Report: Donald Trump relies on Fox News programming to set the White House agenda

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Politico is reporting that White House chief of staff John Kelly’s relationship with President Donald Trump is withering and that as they “have proven increasingly incompatible,” Fox News shows and personalities seem to be filling the void in the White House.

Media Matters has documented the Trump-Fox News feedback loop since the early days of the Trump administration, but as Trump continues to bring on former Fox News employees for White House positions, Fox’s influence over the administration is becoming more stark. Less than one month ago, Trump hired disgraced former Fox News executive Bill Shine as White House communications director (a move Trump sycophant and “unofficial chief of staff” Sean Hannity staunchly endorsed). And now Politico reports that Kelly, who was ostensibly hired to “impose order on a chaotic” White House, has been unable to prevent the president from soliciting advice from a “coterie of outside advisers, including Fox News host Sean Hannity.” Trump is even reportedly setting his daily agenda by simply tuning into his favorite show, Fox & Friends, as a former White House official told Politico that Trump “comes down for the day, and whatever he saw on 'Fox and Friends,' he schedules meetings based on that.”

From Politico’s July 30 article, by Eliana Johnson:

Kelly has done away with “meeting crashers,” the West Wing aides who showed up for meetings uninvited, according to a White House aide, but he has not been able to curb Trump’s practice of adding and subtracting advisers to meetings throughout the day or of turning scheduled gatherings into freewheeling discussions of subjects that suit his interests — including those suggested to him by his coterie of outside advisers, including Fox News host Sean Hannity.

“He comes down for the day, and whatever he saw on 'Fox and Friends,' he schedules meetings based on that,” said one former White House official. “If it’s Iran, it’s ‘Get John Bolton down here!’ … If he’s seen something on TV or [was] talking to Hannity the night before, he’s got lots of flexibility to do whatever he wants to do.”

With closer contact, Trump and Kelly have proven increasingly incompatible. The president makes decisions in part based on the blurts emitted from a media world of his own creation, his television tuned to Fox News and his cellphone at the ready to dial up any number of its on-air talent. Kelly, by contrast, rarely watches television and doesn’t follow Twitter, the forum on which the president announces many of his decisions.