That Trump would be watching Fox News in this moment may be remarkable, but it is hardly surprising. Trump’s reliance on Fox News in his media diet is well documented and seems only to have increased as his presidency has faced the impeachment inquiry. One reason that he watches, of course, is that he often agrees with the sentiments he sees. Which means that the numerous other consumers of Fox News, those who live somewhere other than 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., see coverage that meets with Trump’s approval — a steady defense of the president just when he needs it the most.
That Trump supporters are more likely to watch Fox News than other networks is not a new development. Nor is it new to link Fox News viewership with a fervent defense of Trump. In fact, as we reported in October, Fox News viewers are more loyal to Trump than are Republicans overall.
That bit of data, though, doesn’t convey the extent to which Fox News lies at the center of Trump’s support.
Consider search interest on Google. There’s a strong correlation between the extent to which residents of a state prefer Fox News to CNN and support for Trump in the 2016 election.
At the same time, there’s less search interest in the impeachment from those same states.
These are broad trends, but it suggests a soup of correlation: Trump’s strongest states seem to be most likely to embrace Fox News coverage and to express apathy about the president’s impeachment.
Fox News’s coverage often reinforces the idea that the impeachment should be dismissed. We’ve noted before how the on-screen text displayed on Fox News contrasts with that of the other major cable networks. Trump’s viewing of Carlson’s show Wednesday morning treated him to a bevy of copy disparaging the impeachment vote.
Fox News has been twice as likely to use the term “witch hunt” as CNN or MSNBC over the past three months, according to closed-captioning data compiled by the Internet Archive. It was similarly much more likely to use the term “hoax.”
More broadly, the network’s coverage was often more likely to highlight the framing embraced by the president. Fox News has consistently mentioned Hunter Biden — the former vice president’s son, who sits at the center of Trump’s unfounded Ukraine conspiracy theory — more than have the other major cable news networks.
One remarkable effect of this is that the views of people who indicate that they trust Fox News more than other television news outlets are stronger in their support of Trump than are Republicans overall.
A Suffolk University-USA Today poll released this week included views of Trump and impeachment broken out by party and by most-trusted news outlet. On each of a number of questions, those who trusted Fox indicated more strongly pro-Trump positions than did members of his own party.
Fox News viewers were about as unlikely as Republicans to say that they supported impeachment. They were seven points more likely to say investigations of Trump should be dropped and five points less likely to say the Senate should vote to convict Trump (and, therefore, remove him from office). Fox News viewers approve of Trump by six points more than do Republicans, and by a seven-point margin among those who strongly approve of the president.
Trump’s relationship with Fox News goes back eight years, beginning with a weekly contributor gig on “Fox & Friends” in 2011. It’s blossomed since he was inaugurated, with the network, its viewers and the president all jostling one another within the same worldview. So, again: That he’s spent time Wednesday watching the impeachment coverage on Fox News should have been expected, particularly given what he could expect to see.
Shortly after noon, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham updated reporters on what Trump was doing.
“The president will be working all day,” she claimed. “He will be briefed by staff throughout that day and could catch some of the proceedings between meetings.”
Less than 10 minutes later, Trump tweeted this: