President Donald Trump had words for several Fox Business regulars on Tuesday over criticisms they’d made about his trade policy.
In a series of tweets addressed to Fox Business co-hosts Maria Bartiromo, Dagen McDowell, Stuart Varney, and Forbes Media chairman Steve Forbes, the president defended proposed tariffs as “a great negotiating tool” and emphasized that he was “very happy with the deal” he’d made with Mexico.
Trump came under heavy criticism last week, even within the Republican Party, after he threatened to impose a 5% tax on imports from Mexico if that country did not do more to stop the flow of migrants crossing into the U.S. The tariffs were set to rise each month until they reached 25%. Then on Friday, the White House announced that it had come to an agreement to avoid the tariff hikes altogether.
Many of the actions Mexico agreed to take had actually been negotiated months earlier, officials from both countries told The New York Times, throwing into question how effective a tool Trump’s threatened tariffs really were.
Trump’s Tuesday tweets seemed to come in response to a segment on the show “Mornings With Maria,” in which Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) spoke to Bartiromo, Forbes and McDowell about the president’s aggressive use of tariffs.
Dingell said tariffs are an important tool to “level the playing field for workers,” but criticized Trump’s unpredictable trade policy.
“His consistency is he kinda lobs them in like grenades,” she said. “What I worry about is no one is quite sure where he’s going to be on a given day.”
For his part, Forbes denounced tariffs as a “sales tax,” questioning their effectiveness.
“Studies show that when President [George W.] Bush put in steel tariffs in the early part of his first term, for every job saved in the steel industry, five to 10 were lost by those who bought the steel,” he said.
Shortly after the segment aired, Trump chimed in, voicing a rare reprimand of the network that has been friendly to him throughout his presidency. Even in the segment at hand, Bartiromo was quick to defend the president, arguing that he has been “very consistent in putting America first” and suggesting that his unpredictable trade policy could be “by design.”
“The president is tweeting and apparently watching,” she later said.
Trump has denied reports that his usual day includes a heavy dose of cable news, but his tweets frequently match up with news segments. Though his criticism of other media has been harsh, he rarely attacks Fox News, and even his Tuesday tweets were much less aggressive than his usual media fare.
“Thank you, Mr. President, for watching,” Bartiromo said.