At a media briefing Wednesday, ABC's Cecilia Vega noted Trump's sudden “sense of urgency about sending the National Guard to the border” and asked, “Does this have anything to do with a report that the president saw on Fox News?”
“I think it has everything to do with protecting the people of this country,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders replied, declining to provide a straight answer. “I don’t think this should come as a surprise. The president’s been talking about securing the border for years, since he started on the campaign trail.”
He has, indeed, but he began tweeting furiously Sunday morning about a caravan of Central Americans bound for the U.S.-Mexico border shortly after Fox News aired a segment about the subject.
The president's outrage did not subside Monday, when he declared that “DACA is dead” and that the United States must “build Wall and secure our borders with proper Border legislation.”
By Tuesday, Trump had decided that he could not wait for legislation or a wall.
“Until we can have a wall and proper security, we are going to be guarding our border with our military,” he said at the White House. “That’s a big step.”
Trump sometimes mentions Fox News by name in his tweets; other times, a connection between commentary on the network and action by the president is only slightly less apparent.
In January, for example, Trump seemed to second-guess his support for a federal surveillance program after Fox News analyst Andrew Napolitano made a direct appeal on “Fox & Friends.”
“Mr. President, this is not the way to go,” Napolitano said.
Trump ultimately maintained his support for the surveillance program, after House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly intervened.
At a media briefing later that day in January, CNN's Jim Acosta said that “there seems to be a pattern — and correct me if I'm wrong, if there is no pattern — where the president watches something on 'Fox & Friends' and then he tweets about it. ... Is that what happened this morning? And does that go on?”
Sanders tried to deflect the question with humor. “I'm sure you're disappointed that he's not watching CNN,” she quipped.
“In response to the question,” she continued, “as I just said, the president has a great deal of understanding. This is top of mind. He was talking about it last week. He issued a presidential memo on it, so it's not something that just happened this morning. This has been an ongoing discussion and something of great importance.”
The White House won't deny that Fox News affects Trump's thinking but won't acknowledge it, either.