At Politico today, Matthew Gertz of Media Matters shows in detail just how much President Trump's Twitter feed is a reaction to Fox News programming, particularly Fox & Friends. He shows us many moments when Trump's Twitter exactly tracked the goings-on on Fox. Gertz writes:
It’s no secret, of course, that the president likes to tweet about what he sees on TV. Thanks to diligent reporting from the White House beat, we know Trump often watches several hours of cable news each day via the “Super TiVo” he had installed at the White House. And journalists at CNN, the Washington Post, New York magazine, among others, have compiled lists of Trump tweets they believe were inspired by Fox.
But here’s what is shocking: After comparing the president’s tweets with Fox's coverage every day since October, I can tell you that the Fox-Trump feedback loop is happening far more often than you think. There is no strategy to Trump’s Twitter feed; he is not trying to distract the media. He is being distracted. He darts with quark-like speed from topic to topic in his tweets because that’s how cable news works.
Here’s what’s also shocking: A man with unparalleled access to the world’s most powerful information-gathering machine, with an intelligence budget estimated at $73 billion last year, prefers to rely on conservative cable news hosts to understand current events.
None of this should be "shocking," of course. Trump told us at the very beginning of his campaign, in August 2015 on NBC's Meet the Press, that he gets his foreign policy information from "the shows":
Who do you talk to for military advice right now?
Well, I watch the shows. I mean, I really see a lot of great-- you know, when you watch your show and all of the other shows and you have the generals and--
But back then he at least seemed to watch more than one channel. He said he watched Meet the Press "and all of the other shows." Now -- especially since Joe Scarborough and Mike Brzezinski turned against him -- he clearly trusts only Fox. And Fox clearly gives him terrible advice and appeals to his worst instincts.
So I'm surprised that no pundit has argued that TV news organizations other than Fox ought to be nicer to Trump -- for the good of the country. You've heard the argument that even if you're an anti-Trump Republican you should serve in his administration if asked, because you can be a constraint on the president's bad impulses and thus do some good for the nation, right? I'm surprised we aren't being told something similar about broadcast news outlets -- that they should put restraints on their criticism, because then Trump might watch their programming and run the government based on what he sees on CNN or Morning Joe or Face the Nation, rather than on just Fox & Friends and Hannity. Stop calling him an idiot or a criminal! Suck up to him! Your country demands it!
We'll probably hear this from some commentator soon.
Obviously a better solution would be a different person in the White House, but I guess that's not an option yet.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog