Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is lobbying President Trump to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal in the Trumpiest way possible: by appearing on Fox & Friends, the president’s favorite TV show, to urge the president to scrap the agreement.
The prime minister’s appearance was a follow-up to his dramatic live TV presentation on Monday afternoon, in which he presented the results of a daring Israeli intelligence operation that stole more than 100,000 documents from a secret Iranian nuclear archive. Experts found it somewhat underwhelming, but the slickly produced presentation may have been received more warmly in the White House, where Trump has until May 12 to decide whether to pull the US out of the agreement he has derided as “the worst deal ever.”
And if Netanyahu wanted to be doubly sure Trump got the message from his Monday presentation, a follow-up appearance on Fox & Friends, which Trump watches religiously, is just about the best thing he could do. Predictably, nearly all of Netanyahu’s 10-minute appearance was devoted to bashing the Iran deal and urging Trump to pull out of it.
“The deal was flawed from the start,” Netanyahu said. “It’s either fully fixed or fully nixed. Fully fixed, you need a major overhaul; it really means a new deal.”
Think about this for a second. Netanyahu is the prime minister of Israel, with an infinite number of things to do and a robust domestic media he has to deal with. If he really wanted to do American television, he could have gone on any of the more prestigious evening shows on major networks. If he wanted to appeal to the president, he could have called him.
Instead, he used his Fox & Friends appearance to basically speak directly to the president. He also appeared on CNN, another network the president reportedly watches as part of his wakeup routine, to make the same case.
“The person who is going to make [the Iran deal] decision for the United States is one person, and that’s President Trump,” he said during his Fox appearance.
Monday’s presentation, similarly, felt designed to fit with Trump’s sensibilities. It played up the drama of the secret documents, featured props illustrating the amount of information acquired, and included simple slogans (“Iran Lied”) in big letters on a screen behind the prime minister.
Netanyahu’s two-day lobbying blitz shows that he has a savvy understanding of how Trump receives and processes information. So, Americans: On an issue of vital international concern, your president is so easily manipulable that a close ally is shamelessly pushing his psychological buttons on national television.