Trump Fox live tweets
Molly Butler/Media Matters | Gage Skidmore via Creative Commons

Research/Study Research/Study

STUDY: Two years of Trump's Fox live-tweeting obsession, by the numbers

Trump live-tweeted Fox 1,146 times from September 2018 through August 2020 -- 7.5% of his total tweets

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.

  • Executive summary

  • 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.

    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.

  • Key findings

    • 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. Of those, 984 tweets responded to segments on Fox News, 162 to Fox Business, 12 to the fringe-right One America News Network (OAN), and 48 were scattered across other broadcast and cable networks (often rants about coverage on CNN or MSNBC).
    • Trump's 1,146 tweets of Fox shows represented 7.5% of all his tweets during that period.
    • His highest one-day total was 12 Fox live tweets on January 23, 2020, during his Senate impeachment trial. He sent 97 Fox live tweets in December 2019, the most of any month in the study term.
    • He live-tweeted 42 different Fox shows.
      • He sent 355 live tweets about Fox & Friends, 2.8 times more than his next most frequently tweeted program, America’s Newsroom
      • He sent 195 live tweets combined about Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight and Fox News’ prime-time block of Tucker Carlson Tonight, Hannity, and The Ingraham Angle (62, 35, 47, and 51 live tweets, respectively). 
      • More than half of his live Fox tweets responded to weekday shows that air before noon.
    • 37% of his live Fox tweets were about either the Russia investigation or Ukraine scandal.
    • He sent 17 live tweets promoting books authored by people he was watching on Fox.
    • He quoted Fox commentary, chyrons, or graphics in 45% of his live Fox tweets. Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs was the person he quoted most frequently.
  • As I noted in my 2019 report, this data is illuminating despite its limitations:

    By focusing solely on the president’s live tweets, the study represents, by nature, a floor for the president’s obsession with his television. It does not include tweets that the president may have sent in response to television programming but which I could not identify as such. Nor does it include Trump’s frequent tweets of raw video of Fox segments, or his regular retweets of Fox commentators, or other tweets referencing Fox such as the 11 he sent in 2019 promoting his own upcoming Fox interviews, none of which constitute live-tweeting.

    But the 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, and whose dashed-off responses to its reporting can dramatically alter the political landscape.

    The timing and content of the live tweets suggest they largely fit into at least one of three categories. 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.

    Sometimes, the Fox live tweets are a humorous sideshow. A June 2019 tweet about Mars and the moon that baffled journalists turned out to be Trump giving feedback to a NASA official he had just seen on his television. But more often, they’re less amusing -- his reactions to the network have raised tensions with foreign adversaries and savaged U.S. allies; revealed that his response to a deadly global pandemic was driven by the rantings of right-wing talking heads; featured racist attacks on public officials; and even been restricted by Twitter for “glorifying violence” against his fellow Americans. 

    From Trump’s government shutdown to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, from the Ukraine scandal that led to his impeachment to civil unrest after police killings, one thing remained constant over the last two years. Over and over again, the president relied on Fox’s messaging to shape his response -- and federal policy.

  • How often does Trump live-tweet?

  • Trump sent 1,206 live tweets from September 1, 2018, through August 31, 2020 -- 1,146 of them in response to Fox shows. Trump’s live tweets demonstrate that he spent the last two years consuming vast quantities of Fox programming, to the virtual exclusion of other television news outlets. Of his 1,206 live tweets, 1,146 came in response to either the conservative network Fox News (984 live tweets) or its sister network, Fox Business (162 live tweets) -- 95% of the total. Trump also sent 12 live tweets in response to One America News Network, a far-right Fox competitor that Trump has praised in order to encourage Fox to hew even closer to his line. His remaining 45 live tweets over the course of the year were split between ABC (1 live tweet), CBS (1), CNBC (4), CNN (12), MSNBC (25), and NBC (5). 

  • trump tweets by month
  • Of Trump's total tweets during the study, 7.5% were Fox live tweets. Trump sent 15,242 tweets from September 2018 through August 2020, according to the Trump Twitter Archive. That means that his Fox live tweets represent 7.5% of his total tweets during that period. 

    Trump averaged 50 live tweets per month, ranging from a low of 23 to a high of 102. Trump sent an average of 50 live tweets per month over the length of the study. His live tweets spiked toward the end of 2019, as he responded to House hearings that led to his impeachment, and his December 2019 totals (102 live tweets, 97 of Fox networks) were his highest of any month over the term of the study by more than 10%. He live-tweeted the least in February 2019, with 23 tweets, 22 of which were of Fox shows.

    Trump sent as many as 12 Fox live tweets per day. Trump set his personal record on January 23, 2020, when he sent 12 Fox live tweets amid the third day of the Senate impeachment trial. His previous high was 11 live tweets, set on December 18, 2019, the day the House of Representatives passed two articles of impeachment against him.

    With some Fox live tweets, Trump tried to shape narratives during political crises. In the moments of greatest political peril for his administration, Trump heavily relied on Fox to shape the messaging coming from his Twitter account. He live-tweeted Fox commentary about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election both the night before and during Mueller’s congressional testimony, and he channeled Fox commentators’ supportive takes as the House of Representatives held impeachment hearings into his conduct and during the ensuing Senate trial. As the novel coronavirus spread throughout the United States in February and protests against police brutality and racial injustice erupted in May, he responded by lifting up the commentary of his Fox supporters.

    At other times, Trump’s Fox live-tweeting seems to indicate that the president is being distracted from his duties by his television. As Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 storm, bore down on the U.S. coastline in late August and early September of 2019, Trump sent more than 20 Fox live tweets covering topics that ranged from the FBI’s purported “coup” against him to the “very successful Trade battle with China” to criticisms of his presidency by the actor Debra Messing. Before leaving for a nuclear summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, the president turned on Fox & Friends and tweeted about film director Spike Lee. While flying between Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, where he was to comfort grieving families of victims of recent mass shootings, he watched Fox and lashed out at former Vice President Joe Biden and then-Fox host Shepard Smith. In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, he was sending deranged tweets about stuff he had seen on Fox.

  • Which Fox shows does Trump live-tweet?

  • Trump has live-tweeted at least 42 different Fox shows, with Fox & Friends receiving by far the most attention. Trump live-tweeted at least 42 different Fox shows over the past two years, including every single regular Fox News series currently airing on weekends or weekdays. The programs Trump live-tweeted most frequently are Fox & Friends (355 live tweets), America’s Newsroom (125), Fox & Friends Weekend Edition (99), Lou Dobbs Tonight (62), The Ingraham Angle (51), Hannity (47), Mornings with Maria (46), America’s News HQ (40), Tucker Carlson Tonight (35), and Varney and Co. (32). 

  • Trump livetweets 9/18 through 8/20
  • More than half of Trump’s live tweets were of shows that air on weekday mornings. Fox & Friends First, Fox & Friends, America’s Newsroom, FBN:am, Mornings with Maria, and Varney and Co., which all air on weekday mornings before noon, accounted for 583 tweets, 51% of Trump’s total Fox live tweets. That is consistent with Axios’ reporting, based on leaked copies of the president’s private schedule, that he usually spends weekday mornings in the residence watching TV and making phone calls. Another 195 Fox live tweets, 17% of the total, came in response to Fox News’ prime-time block or Fox Business headliner Lou Dobbs Tonight. Otherwise, 19% of his Fox live tweets (213 total) came in response to shows that aired on the weekend, while the other 14% (155 total) responded to the remainder of the afternoon and evening weekday shows.

    Trump favorite Fox & Friends is responsible for three in 10 Fox live tweets -- nearly four in 10 if you include the weekend edition. It comes as little surprise that the greatest source of Trump’s live tweets was weekday morning Fox News show Fox & Friends, which airs for three hours each weekday and generated 31% of all Fox live tweets. Helmed by co-hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, and Brian Kilmeade, who are alternatively propagandists and buffoons, the program helped Trump gain a political footing by hosting him for weekly sessions beginning in 2011, and it now serves as both his personal morning briefing and the site of frequent interviews. Trump regularly praises the program’s hosts as model journalists. He devoted an additional 99 live tweets to the show’s weekend edition (9% of the Fox total), which is co-hosted by the pro-Trump sycophant Pete Hegseth, whose advice the president has privately sought.

    Trump regularly live-tweets weekday evening shows featuring pro-Trump hosts with ties to his administration. Fox’s weekday evening shows Lou Dobbs Tonight, Hannity, The Ingraham Angle, and Tucker Carlson Tonight all feature pro-Trump hosts who have served as personal advisers to the president, been considered for roles in his administration, or both. Trump sent 195 live tweets about those programs, 17% of all his Fox live tweets.

    On weekend evenings, Trump most frequently live-tweets The Next Revolution. Trump’s 20 live tweets of Sunday night’s The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton far outstrip his totals for the programs of better-known hosts like Life, Liberty, and Levin, The Greg Gutfeld Show, and Watters’ World (six apiece) and Justice with Judge Jeanine (five). The president seems particularly enamored with Hilton’s fawning praise for his economic record.

  • What topics does Trump live-tweet?

  • Trump’s Fox live tweets cover a variety of topics, with his focus shifting over time. I reviewed Trump’s live tweets to determine whether they discussed: the investigation into Russian interference; the scandal in which Trump abused his power in order to smear Biden, which led to his impeachment; immigration; economic issues; foreign policy; acts of presidential clemency; the novel coronavirus; protests of racial injustice and police brutality; the 2018 midterm elections; and/or the 2020 elections. The focus of Trump’s Fox live tweets varied over the course of the study.

  • Chart of Trump live tweets by topic
  • Topic: Elections

  • Trump sent only 20 Fox live tweets about the 2018 midterm elections. Trump was largely disengaged from Fox’s coverage of the 2018 midterm elections, sending only 20 live tweets about them over the last four months of that year. He lifted up the network’s criticism of Democratic candidates, highlighted polls the network showed that favored Republicans, and promoted its fearmongering about potential election fraud.

    Trump sent 103 Fox live tweets about the 2020 election, 9% of the Fox total. Trump frequently responds to Fox segments by tweeting about the upcoming 2020 election, sending 103 such live tweets over the course of the study, 9% of all his Fox live tweets. Those tweets most often come in response to Fox & Friends, which spurred 27 such live tweets. Trump’s live-tweeting about the election has increased as it approaches, topping out with 20 Fox live tweets in August 2020, his most about any subject that month. Trump used Fox segments to attack Democratic primary candidates including eventual nominee Joe Biden, complain that the press opposed his reelection, and push baseless conspiracy theories that Democrats intend to steal the election.

  • Topic: Coronavirus

  • Trump sent 69 Fox live tweets about the coronavirus. Trump sent 69 tweets in response to Fox’s coverage of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in the months since it spread throughout the world, killing more than 200,000 Americans and triggering economic devastation. He sent 21 Fox live tweets in March and 22 in April, but no more than seven in any subsequent month -- a decline that likely reflects both reduced Fox coverage of the pandemic and his own lack of interest.

    Coronavirus live tweets most frequently followed segments on Fox & Friends, America’s Newsroom. Trump sent 15 live tweets apiece in response to coronavirus segments on Fox & Friends and America’s Newsroom. The remainder of his Fox live tweets on the subject were scattered across 19 other programs. 

    Trump’s coronavirus live tweets were among the most consequential of his administration. Amid a deadly global pandemic, the president was taking advice from right-wing commentators and promoting the network’s slanted programming. This shaped both Trump’s own messaging and the federal response, almost certainly increasing the death toll. In particular, Trump sent Fox live tweets minimizing the danger posed by the coronavirus; promoting the use of untested antimalarial drugs as a possible “game changer” COVID treatment; claiming that social distancing measures would be more damaging than the virus; and endorsing anti-social-distancing protests.

  • Topic: Protests

  • Trump sent 53 Fox live tweets in response to protests against police brutality and racial injustice. The police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor triggered a reckoning on police brutality and racism, including nationwide protests that began in May and continue to this day. Trump frequently gathered information about that civil unrest by watching Fox, and tweeted in response to that coverage 53 times through the end of August. His 33 Fox live tweets about protests in June were the most about any topic that month. 

    America’s Newsroom, Fox & Friends, Hannity, and The Ingraham Angle generated the most live tweets about the protests. Trump sent 10 live tweets about the protests in response to America’s Newsroom, eight in response to Fox & Friends, and five apiece in response to Hannity and The Ingraham Angle

    Trump used Fox’s coverage to increase tensions. While the protests were overwhelmingly peaceful, Fox used disinformation to focus on occasional instances of rioting, arson, looting, and vandalism committed by a small minority acting out of anger or opportunism. At times that coverage “grabbed hold of the president’s brainstem,” as New York Times media columnist Ben Smith put it. Notably, Trump’s tweet warning to protesting “THUGS” that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” -- which was restricted by Twitter because it violated the platform's rules against “glorifying violence” -- was a reaction to a rerun of Tucker Carlson’s Fox show. Trump continued to amplify the network’s coverage over the following days, weeks, and months, consistently inflaming tensions and denouncing Democratic mayors and governors who took what he considered an insufficiently harsh line on the protests.

  • Topic: Clemency

  • Trump has sent 38 Fox tweets regarding potential recipients of executive clemency. The president’s virtually unlimited pardon power provides a unique opportunity for Fox to use its control over Trump’s worldview to impact who receives executive clemency -- at least 14 recipients have been in some way connected to Fox or its coverage. Trump sent at least 38 tweets in response to Fox segments about potential pardon recipients over the course of the study, referencing eventual recipients Mathew Golsteyn, Eddie Gallagher, Roger Stone, Rod Blagojevich, and possible future recipient Michael Flynn.

    Fox & Friends Weekend, whose co-host lobbied Trump for war criminal pardons, triggered the most live tweets about clemency. Fox & Friends Weekend generated 12 Trump live tweets about possible recipients of executive clemency, the most of any program. The show’s co-host, Pete Hegseth, played a key role in Trump’s 2019 decisions to grant clemency to several men accused or convicted of committing war crimes as U.S. service members. Notably, Trump publicly said he was reviewing one of their cases in response to a Fox & Friends Weekend segment. 

  • Topic: Ukraine scandal

  • Trump sent 231 Fox live tweets about the Ukraine scandal, 20% of his total Fox live tweets. Fox became central to Trump’s defense from the unfolding scandal surrounding his abuse of power in Ukraine from September 2019 through January 2020, as new revelations triggered impeachment hearings, the passage of articles of impeachment, and his trial before the Senate. He sent a total of 231 Fox live tweets about the story, peaking with 56 in October 2019 and 57 in December 2019. While he sent only a single tweet about the Ukraine scandal before September 2019, the issue still drove 20% of his Fox live tweets for the term of the study -- and 57% of the Fox live tweets over that five-month stretch.

    Trump relied upon Fox & Friends and Hannity for messaging. In discussing the Ukraine scandal, Trump leaned in particular on the messaging from Fox & Friends, which spurred 64 live tweets and guided his effort to shape the day’s media coverage; its weekend edition, which brought in another 28; and Hannity, which generated 18. Thirty-eight percent of Trump’s live tweets of Sean Hannity’s show over the two-year study came in response to the Ukraine story, and the night before the first impeachment hearing, Trump quoted Hannity’s attacks on the “phony showtrial” and praised him as an “amazing warrior.” Trump’s highlighting of Hannity’s spin is particularly relevant given the key role his show played in originally helping to generate the scandal.

    Trump’s Ukraine live tweets feature Fox’s attacks on Democrats and declarations of his innocence. Trump’s Ukraine live tweets highlighted attacks by Fox personalities on the whistleblower, Joe Biden’s son Hunter, congressional Democrats, the media, impeachment witnesses, and senators who voted for his removal. They also featured their denials that Trump had acted inappropriately or committed an impeachable offense or crime; arguments that the process was unfair and impeachment unpopular; claims that impeachment could undermine the 2020 election and that the president’s lawyers had demolished the case against him during the Senate trial; and even the possibility that his removal could trigger a “Civil War like fracture.”

  • Topic: Russia probe

  • Trump sent 190 Fox live tweets about the Russia probe, 17% of his total Fox live tweets. Trump’s communications strategy in responding to Mueller’s investigation has involved a consistent stream of live tweets of Fox’s programming on the subject. He sent a total of 190 such live tweets over the course of the study, doing so at least once in 22 of 24 months. The Russia probe was the most-live-tweeted subject in 10 of the months of the study, with a high of 18 Fox live tweets in May 2019, as conservatives sought to change the narrative from Mueller’s report to an investigation into the investigators.

    Trump relied upon Fox & Friends and Lou Dobbs Tonight for messaging. Trump sent 46 Fox & Friends live tweets, 22 Fox & Friends Weekend live tweets, and 21 Lou Dobbs Tonight live tweets about the Russia probe. He sent more Dobbs live tweets about the Russia probe than about any other topic, representing 34% of his total live tweets of the program. Lou Dobbs offers a particularly propagandistic take on Trump that stands out even at Fox, and the president privately consults him for advice.

    Trump’s Fox live tweets promote claims of his innocence, levy attacks on his perceived enemies. Trump used Fox segments to argue, in his own words or by quoting commentators on the network, that “The whole Russia thing was a Hoax” and the president himself “DID NOTHING WRONG,” that Democrats engaged in “abuses of power” in investigating him, that people at the FBI are guilty of “TREASON” for trying to “overthrow” him “through an illegal coup” and initiating a “complete setup” of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and that the “WHOLE SCAM INVESTIGATION” was “A FIXED HOAX” whose results “should be thrown out” because “THE PARTY IN POWER ILLEGALLY SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN” through “OBAMAGATE.”

  • Topic: Immigration

  • Trump sent 93 Fox live tweets about immigration, 8% of his total Fox live tweets. Trump sent 93 Fox live tweets about immigration over the term of the study, representing 8% of his total Fox live tweets that year. His 21 immigration tweets in January 2019 were his highest total on the topic in the year and the most of any topic I tracked that month. It was also his most repeated live tweeting topic in October 2018, as he responded to the networks’ coverage of a caravan of migrants approaching the U.S. southern border with fearmongering intended to stoke voter turnout. Trump has largely dropped his fixation on the subject, sending only six live tweets about immigration over the first eight months of 2020.

    Fox & Friends, Fox & Friends Weekend Edition, and Lou Dobbs Tonight were the leading sources of Fox live tweets on immigration. Trump sent 44 live tweets of Fox & Friends immigration segments, 14 of Fox & Friends Weekend Edition segments, and seven of Lou Dobbs Tonight segments. Dobbs privately advised the president on his shutdown strategy, and the White House reportedly reached out to him in February 2019 seeking his support for a final deal to reopen the government.

    Trump used Fox’s immigration coverage to shape his messaging before and after shutting down the government. Thirty-four of Trump’s Fox live tweets on immigration came in December 2018 and January 2019, as Trump responded to the network’s demands by partially shutting down the federal government in order to get more funding for a border wall. Trump used Fox programming to suggest that he was winning the shutdown debate, amplify commentators calling for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, highlight reporting about crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and in Mexico, and stoke fears about migrant caravans. During the shutdown, Trump reportedly sought strategic advice from Fox hosts, relied on their talking points during a national address, and sat for multiple interviews with the network’s hosts. Other live tweets later in 2019 highlighted the need for and construction of the border wall, praise from Fox commentators for Trump’s immigration policy, and attacks on Democratic opposition to his policy.

  • Topic: Economic policy

  • Trump sent 147 tweets about economic policy, 13% of his total Fox live tweets. One hundred forty-seven of Trump’s Fox live tweets dealt with his administration’s economic policy and record, constituting 13% of his total Fox live tweets. His highest total in any month came in December 2019, when he had 17 Fox live tweets about economic issues. He sent Fox live tweets about economic policy in 21 of the 24 months in the study, but the issue never rose higher than the second-most-discussed topic. 

    Fox & Friends and Mornings with Maria generated the most economic policy live tweets. Trump sent 46 live tweets of Fox & Friends and 19 of Mornings with Maria dealing with the topic. The latter figure made up 41% of Trump’s live tweets of Mornings with Maria. Maria Bartiromo’s purported business news show frequently cheerleads for Trump’s administration and provides a platform for pro-Trump conspiracy theories.

    Trump’s Fox live tweets largely trumpet good economic news. Trump’s live tweets highlight Fox personalities cheering for stock market highs and other positive economic indicators, praising the president for his tax cuts and overall economic record, and attacking Democrats and the Federal Reserve. He has been particularly intent on talking up economic performance in the wake of staggering damage caused by his failure to contain the coronavirus -- and on claiming that damage wasn’t his fault.

  • Topic: Foreign policy/national security

  • Trump sent 102 Fox live tweets about foreign policy and/or national security, 9% of his total Fox live tweets. One hundred two of Trump’s Fox live tweets dealt with his administration’s foreign policy and/or national security, constituting 9% of his total Fox live tweets. His highest total in any month came in December 2018, when he had 15 Fox live tweets on the topic. He sent Fox live tweets about foreign policy in 19 of 24 months.

    Fox & Friends powered the highest number of Fox live tweets about the subject. Trump sent 45 Fox & Friends live tweets about foreign policy, the most of any show. No other Fox show triggered more than 11 live tweets on the topic.

    Trump’s Fox live tweets threaten diplomatic incidents. While relatively few in number, Trump’s Fox live tweets about foreign policy have included hyperaggressive responses to incredibly complex diplomatic situations. Trump has, in response to Fox coverage over the course of the study, threatened “the official end of Iran”; accused a U.S. company of committing “treason” with the Chinese government; commented on tensions with North Korea and Chinese trade wars; urged the Israeli government to ban two Democratic congresswomen from entering the country; attacked French domestic policy and a politician in the United Kingdom; claimed to have ordered the Navy to destroy Iranian ships if provoked; proposed mediating a military conflict between Iran and China; and threatened to cut off aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador and to close the U.S. southern border over migrant caravans.

  • What targets does Trump live-tweet?

  • Target: Democrats

  • Trump sent 381 Fox live tweets attacking Democrats, 33% of his total Fox live tweets. Trump frequently responded positively to segments on Fox that treated Democrats as a malignant force in public life (a common theme on the network). He attacked the Democratic Party or specific Democrats in 381 of his Fox live tweets, 33% of that total. The number peaked at 52 in December 2019, as the Ukraine scandal triggered an impeachment inquiry. He live-tweeted Fox to attack Democrats in every month of the study, and he sent at least 10 such tweets during 17 separate months.

    Fox triggered racist Trump live tweets that overwhelmed the news cycle. Trump’s racist July tweets about Democratic Reps. Elijah Cummings (MD), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Ilhan Omar (MN), Ayanna Pressley (MA), and Rashida Tlaib (MI) came in response to segments about them that ran on Fox & Friends Weekend. Both sets of tweets generated media firestorms that lasted several days and caused widespread condemnation of the president’s comments.

    Trump’s Fox live tweets target a wide range of Democrats. In addition to Cummings, Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pressley, and Tlaib, the laundry list of Democrats Trump attacked in response to Fox programming includes former President Barack Obama, former Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA), Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (NY), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State John Kerry, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (NY), Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (MI), Gov. J.B. Pritzker (IL), Gov. Jay Inslee (WA), Gov. Kate Brown (OR), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA), Sen. Joe Manchin (WV), Sen. Cory Booker (NJ), Sen. Chris Van Hollen (MD), former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (NY), House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (CA), Rep. Debbie Dingell (MI), former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (TX).

  • Target: Media

  • Trump sent 134 Fox live tweets attacking the press, 12% of his total Fox live tweets. Fox personalities frequently lash out at news media outlets and individual journalists, and Trump frequently highlighted those attacks in his live tweets. He sent 134 live tweets attacking media outlets or personalities, which constituted 12% of his total Fox live tweets. He sent at least one such live tweet in 22 of 24 months. The number peaked with 15 such live tweets in September 2019, amid media scrutiny of his Ukraine abuse of power.

    Trump sent the most Fox live tweets attacking the press in response to Fox & Friends. Trump sent 37 live tweets attacking the media in response to Fox & Friends, by far the most of any program, reflecting the show’s fixation on delegitimizing mainstream news outlets.

    Trump sent 36 Fox live tweets criticizing the network and its employees. Trump occasionally lashes out when he sees commentators on Fox criticizing his administration, either because he is constitutionally incapable of hearing even occasional criticism or as a strategy to work the refs. He sent 36 live tweets criticizing Fox during the study, specifically calling out the coverage of anchor Chris Wallace, correspondents John Roberts, Gillian Turner, and Doug McKelway, and hosts Neil Cavuto and Martha MacCallum. He’s also lashed out at the network as a whole for its polling and for hosting Democrats like Schiff, Dingell, then-presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA), contributor Juan Williams, and Democratic National Committee Communications Director Xochitl Hinojosa. At times, he has urged viewers to watch OAN instead on weekend afternoons (advice he generally does not take himself).

    Here are the mainstream journalists and media outlets Trump attacked in response to TV programming. Along with several generic attacks on the “Fake News,” Trump sent live tweets in response to Fox programming that criticized outlets including ABC, NBC, CNN, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, and singled out NBC’s Chuck Todd, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, CNN’s Don Lemon, and The New York Times’ Jonathan Weissman and Peter Baker. He also attacked journalists and networks on Twitter during the apparently rare occasions when he watched other channels, with a particular focus on MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.

  • Who does Trump quote in live tweets?

  • Trump quoted Fox personalities or from its on-screen text in 45% of his Fox live tweets. Trump sent 513 Fox live tweets that quoted an on-air personality or on-screen text, doing so in 44% of his total Fox live tweets.

    Fox Business host Lou Dobbs is the person Trump quoted most frequently in Fox live tweets. Trump quoted Dobbs, a notorious sycophant, in 16 Fox live tweets over the term of the study. Here is the rest of the top-10 list: Kilmeade (13 live tweets), Ingraham (12), Bartiromo (11), Hilton (11), Fox contributor Jason Chaffetz (10), Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) (9), Varney (9), pro-Trump pastor Robert Jeffress (8), and Carlson (8). Trump also quoted Fox chyrons in 43 live tweets and Fox graphics in 19 live tweets.

    Trump sent 17 tweets promoting the books of authors he had seen interviewed on Fox. Trump is notoriously not a reader, but he frequently tweets praise for books shortly after seeing their authors interviewed on Fox. He sent 17 such tweets during the study, promoting books by former Trump White House aides Sebastian Gorka and Michael Anton, former Trump Organization official George Sorial, conservative historian Doug Wead, pro-Trump retired Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, pro-Trump pastor Darrell Scott, conservative writers Victor Davis Hanson and Andrew McCarthy, Fox contributors Chaffetz and Gianno Caldwell, moronic Trumpist grifter Charlie Kirk, Fox host Jeanine Pirro, and the president’s son, Donald Trump, Jr.  

    Trump frequently promotes ludicrously over-the-top praise that aired on Fox. There are numerous examples of the president tweeting out the sort of ridiculously sycophantic commentary typically relegated to North Korean state television. Here are a handful of examples:

  • Methodology

  • The author has been matching Trump’s tweets against the TV news segments that inspired them since October 2017. This study compiled all Trump tweets identified as live tweets for the two-year period from September 1, 2018, through August 31, 2020. 

    For each live tweet, we recorded the network and segment to which Trump was responding. If Trump’s tweet quoted a person on Fox or a graphic or chyron, that was also recorded.

    Each tweet was coded based on whether it discussed one or more topics including:

    • The Russia probe.
    • The Ukraine scandal and/or ensuing impeachment.
    • Immigration.
    • The economy.
    • National security and/or foreign policy.
    • Potential or actual recipients of Trump executive clemency.
    • The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
    • Protests and/or civil unrest spurred by police brutality and racism.
    • The 2018 elections.
    • The 2020 elections.

    Each tweet was also coded based on whether Trump:

    • Criticized Democrats (either the party in general or a specific individual).
    • Criticized the press.
    • Criticized Fox or its personalities.