Fox has been central to President Donald Trump’s defense from the burgeoning impeachment inquiry into his demands that foreign governments investigate one of his political opponents. Since the story of his abuse of power first broke, Trump has sent at least 223 tweets and retweets about the scandal that were influenced in some way by the right-wing network, according to a Media Matters review.
The hours of Fox News and Fox Business that Trump reportedly watches each day shape his worldview, giving the networks immense influence over U.S. public affairs. Its biggest stars advise the president, while their former colleagues fill his administration. Its coverage drives Trump’s policy positions and his communications strategy, particularly in times of political strife.
The president is obsessed with Fox’s coverage of his administration and in recent days has repeatedly lashed out when he believed the network was insufficiently propagandistic. But there is little evidence that his thirst for the network’s programming has slackened.
Media Matters reviewed all 837 of Trump’s tweets and retweets from 8:56 p.m. EDT on September 18, when The Washington Post reported that a whistleblower had complained about his communications with a foreign leader (later revealed to be Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky), through October 14.
We coded each tweet or retweet for whether it referenced the whistleblower story and subsequent impeachment inquiry. We also determined whether the tweet or retweet was Fox-related: retweeting or mentioning a Fox personality; promoting Fox video, images, or links; quoting from the network’s programming; or live-tweeting Fox coverage.
Of Trump’s 837 tweets and retweets during the period of the study, 479 referenced the whistleblower story or subsequent impeachment inquiry -- and 47% of those tweets and retweets about the story were Fox-related. Overall, 27% of all tweets and retweets Trump sent during the period of the study were Fox-related tweets about the whistleblower or impeachment inquiry.
The president has sent or retweeted tweets containing Fox video, images, or links about the story 102 times, quoted commentators talking about the story on Fox 53 times, and generated at least 56 live-tweets responding to Fox coverage of the story.
He has used Fox content to claim that the impeachment inquiry is a “Witch Hunt”:
To defend his own conduct:
And to vilify media coverage from other outlets:
Trump’s relentless promotion of Fox programming has led some commentators to describe him as “The TV Guide President.”
On Sunday evening, for example, Trump promoted Fox host Mark Levin’s “big show tonight on the Democrat’s [sic] Impeachment Scam.” Before the show aired, he tweeted a quote attributed to Levin that the host subsequently approximated on-air. On Monday morning, he tweeted a clip from Levin’s show containing the Fox host’s comment. And on Monday evening, he tweeted three separate clips from the show and quoted Levin describing impeachment as “a silent COUP effort” in which House Democrats have “gone rogue” and “hijacked” Congress.
Trump has most frequently promoted coverage of the story from the following Fox programs:
Fox & Friends: 28 tweets and retweets
Hannity: 23 tweets and retweets
America’s Newsroom: 20 tweets and retweets
Lou Dobbs Tonight: 18 tweets and retweets
Fox & Friends Weekend: 13 tweets and retweets
Trump has retweeted or quote-tweeted Fox personalities regarding the story 32 times. The personalities whose tweets were most frequently promoted were:
Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo: Seven times
Fox News host Jesse Watters: Six times
Fox contributor Mollie Hemingway: Four times
Fox legal analyst Gregg Jarrett: Three times
Fox host Sean Hannity: Three times
While Trump has been particularly fixated on the Ukraine story and impeachment inquiry over the past four weeks, he has continued to tweet about Fox’s coverage of other stories. He sent an additional 60 Fox-related tweets and retweets about other topics over the course of the study.