The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Fans of Trump’s friendliest news network are turning on him

Posters featuring Fox News talent are displayed on the News Corp. headquarters building on April 19 in Midtown Manhattan. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
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There’s a reason that President Trump constantly watches Fox News. Much (though not all) of the programming is about as friendly to Trump as you’ll see, from the early morning show “Fox and Friends” — on which Trump used to have a weekly gig — to the evening opinion programs like “Hannity.” Trump has repeatedly carved out an exception for the network to his “fake news” disparagement, such as when he suggested a contest for fake news, of which Fox would be ineligible.

Trump likes what he sees on Fox, which means that what he sees depicts him favorably. And yet, according to new polling from Suffolk University, those voters who have the most trust in Fox’s reporting have increasingly begun to view Trump unfavorably.

Over the course of Trump’s presidency, Suffolk has asked people to weigh in on their views of Trump multiple times. In March, 45 percent of Americans viewed Trump favorably, but 86 percent of those who identified Fox as their most-trusted news network said they did. By June, that number had grown to 90 percent. But in October and in the most recent poll, Trump’s favorability with Fox News viewers has plunged (as spotted by Adrian Gray on Twitter).

In March, Fox viewers were 40 points more likely to view Trump positively than were voters overall. By December, they were only 24 points more likely to do so — even though the numbers for Republicans — with which Fox viewership overlaps to some extent — remained fairly high. (Among those who trust CNN the most, the second-most popular network, Trump’s numbers have been consistently dismal, ticking up only slightly of late.)

As you might expect, the percent of Fox viewers who see Trump unfavorably has climbed. In the most recent poll, more than a third of that group says they view him negatively, twice as high as the percentage of Republicans.

Suffolk didn’t ask about approval ratings in this poll, but a similar trend was emerging there, too.

And while Trump’s approval among Republicans was still fairly high, the number of voters who said that they strongly approved of him sunk from 55 percent in March among Fox viewers to only 32 percent in October.

What’s interesting is that Trump’s favorability dipped despite people’s opinions of the state of the country turning around. Between October and December, Fox News viewers were slightly more likely to say that the country was headed in the right direction — and quite a bit more likely to view Trump unfavorably.

What’s happening here isn’t clear. Views of those who trust Fox News the most have diverged from Republicans overall in recent months, against Trump, even as Fox continues to regularly stand in Trump’s defense.

The good news for Trump is that, no matter what, no matter how much Fox News fans turn against him, he can be fairly confident that at least one regular viewer of the network will remain supportive of the things that he does: the guy holding his television remote.

A side-by-side look at how President Trump and Fox News pundits discussed the Charlottesville violence. (Video: Thomas Johnson/The Washington Post)