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- Every day, Republicans go on TV in a never-ending cycle of cable news.
- Sometimes, they get a surprising call afterward – from the president of the United States.
- At least four members of Congress have told Business Insider they heard from President Donald Trump after appearing on cable news.
After one of Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz’s first appearances on cable news, he got a call from someone offering some advice.
“Don’t let people talk over you,” President Donald Trump told Gaetz, the Florida congressman recalled in a recent interview.
From one of his biggest fans, Gaetz has received compliments on a new haircut, backup on an argument, and pointers on his presence.
“He did make mention of the fact that he thought I had found a calling in television, which is high praise from someone who found a calling in television,” Gaetz told Business Insider of Trump.
Gaetz is one of four Republican members of Congress who have told Business Insider that Trump often likes to give them a call moments after they appear on cable news.
It is no secret that the president is a frequent consumer of the medium. A quick peek at his Twitter feed on any given day shows him often reacting to a segment on the “Fox & Friends” morning show, promoting a Fox News host’s program or upcoming interview on the network, or slamming coverage from outlets such as CNN.
The New York Times reported in December that Trump spent four to eight hours a day watching TV, though he has insisted that he does “not watch much television.”
“I know he’s watching television because he’s calling me five minutes after a CNN interview and MSNBC interviews and Fox interviews,” said one Republican member of Congress, who requested anonymity to speak freely with reporters at a recent lunch.
He said he had spoken to Trump more in a year than he had with either George W. Bush or Barack Obama throughout their entire presidencies.
“I mean so he’s watching, and he immediately engages,” he said.
Gaetz, a freshman congressman who has seen his profile grow in recent months, said he often heard from Trump after appearing on TV.
After a recent appearance on “Fox & Friends,” Gaetz said, Trump called him to give him a compliment courtesy of first lady Melania Trump.
“One of the last times I spoke with the president, he said Melania had seen me on ‘Fox & Friends,’ and she told him there was this really handsome guy on television talking about him,” he said.
The White House did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
A spokeswoman for the first lady also did not respond to a request for comment.
‘He didn’t think that was a compliment’
Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia has also told Business Insider that Trump likes to give him a call after a TV appearance.
And for Perdue, it extends beyond TV.
In a New York Times article last year, Perdue compared Trump to Winston Churchill, the former UK prime minister, saying that like the legendary World War II-era leader, Trump was “nobody’s choir boy” and “a historic person of destiny at a time and place in America when we’ve got to make a right-hand turn here.”
“And so he saw that New York Times article – he called me up and said, ‘So you think I’m like Churchill?'” Perdue recalled. “He didn’t think that was a compliment.”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has also told Business Insider he got a call from the president after appearing on TV, though he said it had happened only once.
“It was good. He said, ‘You did great,'” Graham said. “Can’t remember the show, but he did it one time.”
But one group of prominent TV guests do not appear to be on the president’s call list: Democrats.
A spokesman for Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, who often appears on cable news to discuss the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election, said the congressman had not received any calls from the president.
Swalwell said his message to the president was simple: “Call me on my cellphone.”