Conservative pundit Adriana Cohen shares her thoughts on the president, the pandemic, and the future of the Republican party.
In a region known for leaning to the left, Adriana Cohen has emerged as a prominent voice for the political right. A syndicated columnist, radio host and frequent commentator on Fox News, Cohen has covered everything from politics to foreign policy to presidential elections. In 2016, Cohen’s work caught the attention of President Trump, who invited her to the White House for a private meeting in the Oval Office. The president has since become a frequent guest on Cohen’s radio broadcast and a central focus of her widely-read column. N Magazine spoke to Adriana Cohen about presidential politics, current events and the future of the Republican party.
N MAGAZINE: Tell us how you came to know Nantucket and what role it plays in your family’s life?
COHEN: I first discovered Nantucket when I was in college. I fell in love with the island immediately and have been back pretty much every summer since. I enjoy biking to Surfside, stopping by Cisco for some live music, visiting Bartlett Farm, and getting dressed up to go to Galley Beach for sunset. Our children have so many wonderful memories there. We’re just huge lovers of Nantucket and I would live there all summer if I could.
N MAGAZINE: You have clearly established yourself as a conservative voice in a state that is not known for being particularly conservative. How did your viewpoint develop?
COHEN: I’ve always been socially liberal but fiscally conservative my whole life. Basically, I support gay marriage, I’m pro-choice, but I don’t like the idea of big government controlling every aspect of our life. I’m very much a free market capitalist that believes our country needs to protect its freedoms, because if you don’t protect them, someone will be happy to take those freedoms away from you. That developed as I grew up. I got a political science degree in college, and I’ve worked on various political campaigns over the years. When Scott Brown was a senator running for reelection, I volunteered on his campaign. About ten years ago, I started going on Dan Rea’s radio show on WBZ and became a regular on his program covering elections and all kinds of political topics. Then I joined the Boston Herald as a columnist and a radio host. And that’s really where my career took off as a political commentator and analyst.
N MAGAZINE: Let’s just talk about the Herald for a moment. Like many newspapers, it is a struggling enterprise. Do you think the Herald has a chance for survival, and if not, what does it do to the landscape in Boston?
COHEN: I don’t know if they have a chance of survival or not. I don’t have access to their financials. But I can say that newspapers in general have been struggling to survive for many years—that was even prior to the COVID crisis. So I don’t know if they will survive. I certainly hope that they do because it’s so important for the public to hear balanced viewpoints. Let’s hear from liberals, let’s hear from conservatives and everyone in between. I want to hear from libertarians; every voice is important. I’m a strong supporter of the First Amendment and not censoring voices. That’s something that’s been really great to work for the Herald—they presented and allowed both sides of political issues that sometimes I don’t see in the Boston Globe.
COHEN: The president has seen me on Fox News over the years and other outlets. He also reads my column and has tweeted or re-tweeted me many times, as has the White House and members of the administration and President Trump’s family. During the 2016 campaign, I had the privilege of interviewing him. He came on my radio show and it went really well. We really clicked and it was a great interview. Of course, it went viral. And then I was invited to the White House last March to meet him in person. I met him in the Oval Office and spoke with him for probably about twenty, twenty-five minutes. It was really an honor and very special. Then I invited him back on my radio show and he did that just a few weeks later. He typically doesn’t do radio, but he told me he would make an exception for me because he really respects my work, and he said so when I interviewed him.
N MAGAZINE: There are some cracks in his support from the Republican side, most notably, Ann Coulter. What do you think about the Republican support, or perhaps breaking of ranks, for the president?
COHEN: I’m not concerned about it at all. If you look at the polling, President Trump has 96 percent support of the Republican Party and that’s been consistent for over a year now. Of course, there’s going to be some dissenters, some Never Trumpers, like Ann Coulter, but his supporters don’t care what she thinks, to be honest. We know that the president, prior to the COVID-19 crisis, led one of the strongest economies in decades. The unemployment rate was historically low, and there have been so many achievements since he got elected. His supporters see that he’s done the best job that he could to navigate our country through this unprecedented crisis. So his support remains strong.
N MAGAZINE: The COVID-19 crisis has been a test for everyone, not the least of which the president. Very few presidents get reelected when an economy is damaged. What is your assessment of how much of a risk that poses to his reelection?
COHEN: It is a slight risk. However, the American people have seen that part of the COVID-19 crisis President Trump led. He ushered in one of the greatest financial comebacks since the financial crash. We went from high unemployment to virtually historically low unemployment for all Americans: women, African Americans, Asian Americans. And he created tens of millions of jobs. And so Americans have seen that he’s been able to do it once, he’ll be able to do it again post-COVID crisis. Now that the economy is reopening, we just need to give him time and the chance to do that.
N MAGAZINE: There’s a lot of questions right now about how an election will be conducted with COVID-19 still a looming threat toward the country. What is your view of how this election will happen and how it may influence the outcome?
COHEN: I think it’s imperative that we maintain voter integrity with our election, and that should be done at the ballot box. Voters should go to the ballot box. If the issue or concern is about the risk of catching COVID-19, we wear masks, we wear gloves, we social distance and we vote traditionally. I share President Trump’s concerns about voter fraud, with having the entire country just mail in ballots. Jerry Nadler, the Democrat from New York, is on a video years ago warning that fraud would take place with mail-in voting. It’s interesting now that Democrats have no problem with that risk.
N MAGAZINE: Speaking of social distancing, there’s starting to be a backlash from not only the president’s supporters, but also objective medical professionals, that the social distancing strategy—which has done enormous damage to the economy—may not have been the reason why case numbers have gone down. What is your view on how this has been handled, and whether indeed the president may have been correct?
COHEN: There’s a lot of conflicting information out there. We were told to lock down and self-quarantine originally to flatten the curve, to give the hospitals time so they could get personal protective equipment and all that they needed. We were all on board with that. However, there’s a big difference between quarantining for two weeks and several months—losing so many of your freedoms and your rights while we don’t even know for sure if quarantining is the best way to combat this disease. For example, there was a study in New York a few weeks ago done by 113 hospitals that analyzed their COVID-19 patients who had been hospitalized. The majority of them were people who stayed home. So that’s problematic. That conflicts with what we were told. Now we’re learning that some of the things we were told to do did not work; they might have had a counterproductive effect. All I would say is practice common sense in terms of keeping your family safe, whether that’s wearing a mask or social distancing, and keeping yourself as healthy as possible.
This interview has been edited and condensed due to space limitations.