That fact that Donald Trump enjoys watching Fox News is no secret. He has become close to some Fox on-air personalities, most notably prime-time host Sean Hannity, who reportedly speaks to Trump by phone nightly just before bedtime. A new research study shows that Trump’s relationship with the conservative cable news network is more than just that of a fan. Trump regularly live-tweets ideas and factoids that he has viewed on Fox News just moments earlier, causing major effects on U.S. government policy.
The study by Media Matters researcher Matt Gertz identified 613 Trump tweets during 2019 that came in direct response to reports or commentary aired on Fox News. Gertz’s study traced the Trump Twitter feed through December 17, meaning that Trump live-tweeted Fox News an average of 1.75 times each day.
The year started with a federal government shutdown that Gertz said came about because Fox News hosts “goaded” Trump into ignoring the advice of Republican leaders in Congress. Throughout the 35-day shutdown, Trump regularly watched Fox News and tweeted his reactions to their coverage, as Fox personalities “told him his strategy was succeeding and urged him to ‘stay strong,'” Gertz reported.
Trump continued regularly tweeting reactions to Fox News throughout the year, with 49 Fox-related tweets in the first 17 days of December, according to Gertz’s count. During the impeachment debate and vote on December 18, Gertz tweeted that he had counted 13 Fox-related tweets, even as White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham claimed that Trump “continues to work” through the impeachment process.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 19, 2019
As Gertz documented in a 2018 Politico report, The phenomenon of Trump live-tweeting Fox News is not unique to 2019. On one day in January of 2018 — the same day Trump returned from an 11-day vacation — Gertz recorded five consecutive tweets that directly corresponded to Fox News programming.
Taking a time-out from Trump's vacation tweets to track today's.
Left, Fox & Friends, 6:24 am
Right, Trump, 7:48 am pic.twitter.com/uQQXeAtOf4
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) January 2, 2018
In November, Trump pardoned two accused war criminals, and restored the rank of another who had been demoted, after “Fox host Pete Hegseth aggressively lobbied for the pardons,” according to Gertz.
Earlier in the year, Trump took to Twitter to threaten Google with a federal investigation, apparently after watching Fox Business host Lou Dobbs broadcast a segment claiming that the online giant would attempt “to illegally subvert the 2020 Election.”
Due to his own personal friendships with various Fox News personalities, Trump sometimes does not even have to rely on Twitter to convert Fox talking points into policy. Reportedly, Fox News host Tucker Carlson has become an unofficial — but important — national security adviser to Trump. In June, it was believed to be Carlson who pushed Trump to cancel a military strike against Iran at the last minute.
Carlson, at that point, had privately advised Trump for weeks, according to reports in the press.