Shortly before the Egyptian airplane disappeared early Thursday morning, Sean Hannity gave Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump a full hour for an infomercial on Fox News Channel.
In that much has been said and written lately about Mr. Trump’s alleged sexism and misogyny, Mr. Hannity led Mr. Trump into a conversation about sexual accusations against former President Bill Clinton from his 1990s impeachment.
They were important, Mr. Hannity seemed to think, because Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Clinton, is Mr. Trump’s likely Democratic opponent and she supported her husband back then.
“One case, it’s about exposure,” Mr. Hannity said. “In another case, groping and fondling and touching against a woman’s will.”
Mr. Trump gently interrupted.
“And rape,” Mr. Trump said.
“And rape,” Mr. Hannity agreed.
Later Thursday, after discussing the Egyptian airplane and the possibility of terrorism, Ms. Clinton was asked about Mr. Trump by interviewer Chris Cuomo on CNN.
CUOMO: “Do you think Donald Trump is qualified to be president?”
CLINTON: “No, I do not.”
She said Mr. Trump’s comments about women, Muslims and foreigners are “not just offensive to people, they are dangerous.” As for the sexual dimension of his comments, Ms. Clinton said:
“Trump is doing what he does best: Attacking when he feels wounded and dragging the American people through the mud for his own gain.”
Ms. Clinton went on to say she is accustomed to being attacked and has a thick skin for the insults of people like Mr. Trump.
“How unmoored he is when he talks about foreign policy,” she said. “The loose cannon that he has turned out to be when it comes to our national security. So I’m going after him exactly on those issues and statements that are divisive and dangerous.”
Trump has ‘a stunning ignorance of foreign affairs’ that makes him ‘incredibly dangerous.’
When asked if she would defend herself or her husband against Mr. Trump’s attacks regarding sexual behavior, Ms. Clinton replied: “No. I know that’s exactly what he’s fishing for and I’m not going to be responding… Most of what Trump says is pretty negative about America. It’s pretty much fear-mongering, criticizing.”
She said his anti-Islamic comments make him “essentially a recruiter” for ISIS and called him “irresponsible, reckless and dangerous.” Then she repeated: “He is not qualified to be president of the United States.”
Mr. Trump might have demonstrated that early Thursday morning by this Twitter message.
“Looks like another terrorist attack,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Airplane departed from Paris. When will we get tough, smart and vigilant? Great hate and sickness!”
On MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell said Mr. Trump was “certainly jumping to conclusions and there could be a stampede to use this as a political issue.”
On different networks, former Defense Secretary Bob Gates expressed his growing concerns about Mr. Trump.
“It’s always better to wait until you actually know what the facts are before you open up,” Mr. Gates told MSNBC.
On a Yahoo telecast, Mr. Gates added: “I hope it doesn’t suggest how he would respond to a crisis… wait until you get reliable information.” He told Katie Couric that Mr. Trump instead prefers “Ill-informed threats and bluster.”
Is Mr. Trump qualified to be president?
“Right now?” Mr. Gates said. “No.”
Taking a harsher tone on Lawrence O’Donnell’s Last Word, Christopher Dickey—foreign editor of The Daily Beast—considered Mr. Trump’s frequent observation that the United States is viewed as a “stupid country” around the world.
“He’s right,” Mr. Dickey said. “We are viewed as a stupid country because we have Donald Trump running for president and he might get elected… How crazy and stupid can Americans be?”
He added that Mr. Trump is “Obviously a blowhard and a bully.”
Another member of the pane—Tom Nicholls, a professor at the Navy War College—added: “Everything that happens in the world is just raw meat for Donald Trump’s ego and Donald Trump’s mouth… to yell into a microphone and rile up his supporters. Trump talks first and thinks—if at all—much later.”
This was shortly after Mr. Trump addressed a fundraiser in New Jersey to pay the campaign bills of his newest best friend, Governor Chris Christie.
After reading a few remarks about all the wonderful things Mr. Christie has done for The Garden State, Mr. Trump put down the script and began to speak in a louder voice and implied that anyone who doesn’t jump to his conclusions is naïve or weak.
He expressed astonishment that Ms. Clinton doesn’t think he is qualified to lead the free world and then segued into a non-sequitur.
“I’m saying to myself ‘What just happened about 12 hours ago?’” Mr. Trump said. “A plane got blown out of the sky. And if anybody doesn’t think it was blown out of the sky, you’re 100 percent wrong, folks—OK? You’re 100 percent wrong.”
By evening, all the public affairs cable channels had thoroughly covered the airplane mystery and Mr. Trump’s reaction to it. Mr. Hannity—after yelling at a bearded Imam—showed a replay of himself and Mr. Trump discussing “rape” the night before.
A guest of Mr. Hannity, right-wing commentator Laura Ingraham spoke with her host about a Sunday New York Times story that examined Mr. Trump’s treatment of women over the decades. She seemed giddy.
“He has that ace in his back pocket,” she said of Mr. Trump. “The way that Hillary treated all of Bill Clinton’s victims. All those efforts to smear Trump have failed. The fearlessness that he has is very inspiring.”
Down the dial at MSNBC, Mr. Nicholls drew a different conclusion about what he called presidential temperament and what he has seen thus far from the major candidates.
“Are they prone to simply fly off the handle and shoot from the lip about event of which they know nothing?” Mr. Nicholls said.
He said Mr. Trump has “a stunning ignorance of foreign affairs” that makes him “incredibly dangerous.”
Mr. O’Donnell then showed a clip from earlier in the day of House Speaker Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who ran for vice-president in 2012. Mr. Ryan has yet to endorse Mr. Trump. He was asked if Mr. Trump is qualified to be president.
“I’m not going to litigate this thing from the podium,” Mr. Ryan said.
Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.