President Trump had a lot to say Tuesday morning, but he said very little of it in his own voice. In his first three tweets of the day, Trump quoted people he had seen on Fox News.
In a fourth tweet, he spoke for himself, in two words: “WITCH HUNT!”
It is not unusual for the president to respond on Twitter to what he sees on television — and on Fox News, in particular — but he seems absorbed by his favorite network lately. One-third of Trump's 57 tweets in the past week appear to have been inspired by Fox News.
In many cases, Trump explicitly mentioned a Fox News program or personality. In other instances, his messages aligned with segments that had just aired, suggesting that he was watching and reacting.
Last Tuesday, for example, he mentioned @foxandfriends in his first tweet of the day, then proceeded to tweet five more times about subjects discussed on the show.
Trump's recent Fox News-related tweets can be grouped into two main categories:
Tweets that amplify positive coverage
Fox News is the most-watched cable news network, but even its most popular programs typically draw audiences of a few million viewers that pale in comparison to Trump's 48 million Twitter followers. There are times when it seems that Trump likes something he sees on Fox News because it makes him look good, and he wants to call extra attention to it.
He quotes favorable commentary, retweets video clips and plugs upcoming appearances on the network.
Tweets that suggest Trump treats Fox News like a political consultant
As president, Trump enjoys tremendous agenda-setting power. Whatever he chooses to talk about becomes news.
There are times when Trump appears to cede this power to Fox News. In the examples above, Trump quoted former president Barack Obama, cited an outlier poll, brought up the Pennsylvania congressional map and invoked MS-13 shortly after Fox News did the same.
It is possible, of course, that Trump would have decided to raise these subjects on his own or that an adviser would have recommended he do so. But Trump seems to look to Fox News for guidance on what to think and say.
He also seems to be watching an awful lot of TV these days.