On a Saturday in early March, President Donald Trump, clad in a baseball cap, strode into the Situation Room for a meeting with the coronavirus task force. He didn’t stop by the group’s daily meetings often, but he had an idea he was eager to share: He wanted to start a White House talk radio show.
At the time, the virus was rapidly spreading across the country, and Trump would soon announce a ban on European travel. A talk radio show, Trump excitedly explained, would allow him to quell Americans’ fears and answer their questions about the pandemic directly, according to three White House officials who heard the pitch. There would be no screening, he said, just an open line for people to call and engage one-on-one with the president.
But that Saturday, almost as suddenly as he proposed it, the president outlined one reason he would not be moving forward with it: He did not want to compete with Rush Limbaugh.
No one in the room was sure how to respond, two of the officials said. Someone suggested hosting the show in the mornings or on weekends, to steer clear of the conservative radio host’s schedule. But Trump shook his head, saying he envisioned his show as two hours a day, every day. And were it not for Limbaugh, and the risk of encroaching on his territory, he reiterated, he would do it.