President Donald Trump tweeted in response to Fox News or Fox Business programs he was watching at least 1,146 times over the two years from September 2018 through August 2020 -- 7.5% of his total tweets during that period -- according to a Media Matters review.
He live-tweeted 42 different Fox programs, most frequently responding to the Fox News morning show Fox & Friends, which he tweeted about at least 355 times.
For years, I have been tracking Trump's habit of watching Fox programming -- often on delay using a DVR -- and tweeting out often belligerent or self-aggrandizing responses to what he sees on his television, described here as "live-tweeting." On the first day of this study, for example, Trump tweeted a quote from a pro-Trump commentator accusing the FBI and CIA of corruption that had aired a few hours earlier on Fox & Friends Weekend, while on the last day he praised his son Donald Trump's Jr.'s book after seeing him promote it in an interview on Sean Hannity's Fox show.
This study provides a comprehensive review of Trump's live tweets over the last two years, and it expands upon reports I wrote on his 2019 live tweets and those from the first six months of this year. For this study, I reviewed all of the Trump tweets I had previously identified as the result of the president live-tweeting his television, the overwhelming majority of which were in response to the Fox channels. I logged the networks and shows to which the tweets responded, as well as the topics and targets Trump discussed and the personalities he quoted.
Gertz, in 2019:
[T]he data provides a window into how Trump consumes news, revealing a president who is immersed in and fueled by Fox's often conspiratorial and disinformation-laced programming, who prefers the rantings of its hosts to expert analysis . . .
They show Trump trying to fend off a host of scandals by catapulting the talking points of his televised allies into the mainstream; distracted in crucial moments by the rancor and propaganda coming from his television; and so driven by television news programming that he seems almost physically unable to deprive himself of it.
Adapted from Brian Stelter's Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth:
"Everything I know about the Constitution, I learned from you on 'Fox & Friends,'" President Donald Trump once told Judge Andrew Napolitano.
A former New Jersey Superior Court judge who became the top on-air legal expert at Fox News, Napolitano was at once flattered and horrified.
In West Wing meetings in 2017 and 2018, the Fox-addicted president brought up Napolitano's TV analysis with his actual lawyers.
A former Fox News producer confided that Trump's constant phone calls to various Fox personalities are not meant to tell Fox to report certain things a certain way. They are so Trump can find out what he should say at his media briefings and rallies.
NEW STUDY: Two years of Trump's Fox live-tweeting obsession, by the numbers— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) October 9, 2020
Trump live-tweeted Fox 1,146 times from September 2018 through August 2020 -- 7.5% of his total tweets https://t.co/UBNZMWCrUG
First, why Trump’s Fox obsession matters: It dictates policy outcomes.— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) October 9, 2020
Here are 15 ways that happened over the two years of the study, from military strikes to impeachment to the coronavirus to racial justice protests to pardons to personnel and more. https://t.co/4AHz5U2QUq
Now to the data. Trump live-tweeted all major news networks a collective 1,206 times from September 2018 through August 2020, an average of 1.7 per day.— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) October 9, 2020
Of those, 984 tweets responded to segments on Fox News and 162 to Fox Business. pic.twitter.com/HENaKCnP7O
Trump averaged 50 live tweets per month, ranging from a low of 23 to a high of 102.— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) October 9, 2020
That spike came in Dec. 2019, when he was fighting off impeachment charges by live-tweeting Fox’s coverage.
Daily peak: 12 Fox live tweets on January 23, Day 3 of the Senate impeachment trial. pic.twitter.com/dgvpdiM0w0
Trump has live-tweeted at least 42 different Fox shows, with Fox & Friends receiving by far the most attention -- a whopping 355 live tweets over the two-year span, plus 99 more from its weekend edition. pic.twitter.com/oaJwInuDkx— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) October 9, 2020
The rest of the top-ten list shows Trump is largely engaged on weekday morning shows, plus those of Fox Cabinet members Lou Dobbs, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham. pic.twitter.com/9mCnFA9sAN— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) October 9, 2020
I also broke down Trump’s live tweets by topic, as you can see from the chart he covered a variety of subjects, with his focus shifting over time. pic.twitter.com/B5rZlnjsDY— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) October 9, 2020
Subjects Trump sent the most Fox live-tweets about over the two-year period of the study:— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) October 9, 2020
Ukraine scandal: 231 Fox live tweets
Russia probe: 190
2020 Elections: 103
Foreign Policy: 102
2018 Elections: 20
Clemency: 12 pic.twitter.com/MeVNxQjKxX
Fox points out enemies for Trump to attack. He sent 381 Fox live tweets attacking Democrats and 134 attacking the press, including some of his most bigoted and unhinged comments. https://t.co/xZm16ANpSU— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) October 9, 2020
He also regularly tweets about books whose authors he’s just seen on the network saying nice things about him -- 17 times over the study. And of course, he regularly tweets obsequious quotes he sees from Fox hosts like Lou Dobbs. https://t.co/tBbH5rapl8— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) October 9, 2020
Perhaps most of all, Fox distracts him. When the stakes are highest, he is sitting in front of his television tweeting about his favorite shows. https://t.co/UtNdyOJJho— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) October 9, 2020