Hours before Donald Trump hit the stage at a South Carolina rally on Monday evening, where he encouraged Republican voters to turn out for incumbent Gov. Henry McMaster in the primary, the president had seen a Breitbart article.
The piece, published on Sunday, aggregated an interview acclaimed director David Lynch had recently granted to The Guardian and included the filmmaker offering some caveated praise of the 45th president of the United States. The Breitbart headline, which Trump gleefully quoted on Twitter on Monday, read, “Director David Lynch: Trump ‘Could Go Down as One of the Greatest Presidents in History.’”
A White House official told The Daily Beast that President Trump was “delighted” after he had read the Breitbart post and talked about it in the same upbeat manner he has used when he has come across news of other A-list celebrities praising his presidency, including rapper Kanye West.
And it didn’t take long for the president to start broadcasting his newfound affection for Lynch to hundreds of Trump fans at a political rally. It was about 20 minutes into Trump’s freewheeling speech on Monday evening when he pulled out a printed copy of the Breitbart story and started reading from it to wild applause and cheers from the audience.
The president conveniently left out the qualification from original Guardian interview that says Lynch is actually “undecided” about the president.
The bulk of the president’s speech, delivered to support an incumbent governor, was pure campaign-mode Donald Trump—a red-meat-heavy stream of consciousness of cultural grievance, personal score-settling, and hardline politics.
When he wasn’t talking about trade wars, or North Korea, or addressing baseless rumors that first lady Melania Trump recently got a “facelift,” the president dove right back into the popular-culture wars.
“Did you see Jimmy Fallon?” he asked, prompting boos from the crowd. The president was referring to a recent interview The Tonight Show host gave in which he expressed regret for playfully messing with Trump’s hair during a particularly softball pre-election sit-down in the fall of 2016.
“I made a mistake,” Fallon admitted. “I’m sorry if I made anyone mad. And, looking back, I would do it differently.”
Noting that Fallon “was so disappointed” to find out his hair was “real,” Trump said, “So Jimmy Fallon apologized, he apologized for ‘humanizing me,’ the poor guy, because now he will lose all of us.” He said that Fallon, a “nice guy who looks like a lost soul” called him up to thank him for the “monster ratings.”
As he has done before, Trump proceeded to call “the guy on CBS”—Late Show host and frequent Trump critic Stephen Colbert—a “low-life” with “no talent.”
“Are these people funny?” he asked to shouts of “no!” from his audience. “I can laugh at myself,” he added. “And frankly if I couldn’t, I’d be in big trouble.” It was a rich comment coming from the man who has skipped the White House Correspondents’ Dinner two years in a row and most definitely did not laugh at himself when he attended in 2011 and was famously roasted by Seth Meyers and President Barack Obama.
And then there was Jimmy Kimmel.
On stage at a political rally, Trump spent several minutes making fun of yet another late night host and comedian for supposedly treating him in a deferential way when he appeared on his ABC show several years back. “Now I wouldn’t do his show, that guy’s terrible,” he said.
“They’re not, like, talented people,” Trump lamented. “Johnny Carson was talented.”
Carson, the legendary Tonight Show host, held the coveted late-night gig until 1992. He passed away in 2005.
Yet all of Trump’s musings about the pop-culture landscape paled in comparison to his continued airing of grievances regarding the U.S. judicial system. In claiming, dubiously, that an official came to him “three days ago” requesting an additional 5,000 judges “on the border,” Trump asked, without a hint of irony, “What other country has judges?”
“I don’t want judges,” the president added, as the crowd roared. “I want ICE and border patrol agents.”