FOX & Friends

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  • How Trump uses Twitter to show his love for Fox News

    And his dislike of almost everyone else

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    The mutually beneficial relationship between President Donald Trump and Fox News has been readily apparent for a while, partly because of the network’s Trump mania during the campaign. But after nearly 150 days of Trump’s presidency, Fox -- and in particular Trump’s favorite morning show, Fox & Friends -- has essentially become a propaganda outlet for the president. In return, Trump has praised Fox and echoed claims made by the network, while also attacking Fox News’ competitors as “fake news.”

    One of the main ways Trump shows his adoration for Fox is through his Twitter account, where the president has often been explicit in his appreciation for the network’s coverage. According to a Media Matters search on the Trump Twitter Archive, along with a manual search of Trump’s tweets, between Inauguration Day, January 20, and June 16, Trump has:

    • tweeted at Fox & Friends (@foxandfriends) 16 times;

    • retweeted Fox & Friends (@foxandfriends) 15 times;

    • tweeted or retweeted a link to Fox News or Fox Business’ website at least nine times; and

    • tweeted at Fox News (@FoxNews) 11 times.

    Trump oftentimes retweets misleading or inaccurate Fox reports and graphics. For example, Fox’s tweets highlighting employment gains in the February jobs report failed to note that much of the gains were part of a pattern that preceded Trump’s presidency. In March, Trump retweeted a highly misleading Fox & Friends report claiming terrorists were using religious visas to enter the U.S., even though the report did not cite even one example. And in May, despite his past criticism of anonymous sources, Trump retweeted Fox pushing a dubious report from a single anonymous source who claimed Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, did not suggest to the Russians that they establish a secret communications channel, which was contrary to other reporting.

    In addition, Trump has also shared at least 11 Fox videos and graphics, frequently using them to highlight Fox’s misleading portrayal of economic news, which has been framed to look positive for Trump. Trump also seems to nearly exclusively rely on Fox whenever he wants to share footage of himself from events and ceremonies, such as an inaugural ball, the signing of executive orders, and his speech at a NATO gathering. Trump as president has also tweeted links to Fox stories more than to those of any other individual outlet, tweeting at least seven Fox articles.

    Trump on multiple occasions has even used his Twitter account to laud Fox’s reporting, saying “@foxandfriends is great,” referencing its “great reporting,” praising its segments, and congratulating the show on its ratings. In return, Fox has at least on some occasions showed or read on air tweets by Trump that mention the network. Most recently, on June 16, Trump retweeted Sean Hannity's tweet that he would have on his show a "monologue on the Deep State’s allies in the media."

    Perhaps what makes Trump’s online fawning over Fox most jarring is the sharp contrast to how he talks about other media outlets on Twitter. In line with his administration’s war on the press, Trump has regularly attacked other outlets by name, often calling them “fake news” and even once going so far as to call some media outlets the “enemy of the American People.” Just last week, Trump tweeted, “Sorry folks, but if I would have relied on the Fake News of CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, washpost or nytimes, I would have had ZERO chance winning WH.”

    From a Media Matters analysis:

    • Number of tweets in which Trump invoked “fake news”: at least 49

    • Number of tweets in which Trump attacked The New York Times: 18

    • Number of tweets in which Trump attacked ABC: five

    • Number of tweets in which Trump attacked NBC or MSNBC: eight

    • Number of tweets in which Trump attacked CBS: two

    • Number of tweets in which Trump attacked CNN: nine

    • Number of tweets in which Trump attacked The Washington Post: three

  • Fox hypes misleading job creation numbers to credit Trump on the economy

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    President Donald Trump took to Twitter on June 11 to echo misleading claims from Fox News that job growth in his first four full months in office was proof of his economic success. Both Fox and the president failed to notice, however, that it was the weakest February through May stretch of job growth since the end of the Great Recession.

    On the June 11 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Sunday, co-host Clayton Morris and economist Peter Morici claimed that Trump’s presidency had been a boon for the economy, hyped that 594,000 jobs had been created in Trump’s first four full months in office, and slammed media outlets for reporting that Trump’s economic agenda has stalled. Roughly an hour later, the president started tweeting what seemed like talking points pulled from the Fox segment. He decried mainstream reporters, whom he derisively labeled “fake news,” in a tweet claiming media outlets refuse to report “great economic news” since he was elected. Trump continued by boasting that the economy had added “600,000+” jobs:

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the economy in fact created 594,000 jobs from February through May of this year. Projections for April and May are preliminary and subject to change, but by comparison to previously established trends for the same timeframe, Trump has little to boast about. More jobs were created during the same four-month window in each of the past seven years under President Barack Obama.

    On June 12 edition of CNN’s Early Start host Christine Romans picked apart various aspects of Trump’s claims on the economy. Romans discussed that while the stock market has gone up since Trump was elected, it had been rising for eight years making the latest gains just “icing on what has been a very big, juicy cake.” Romans also noted that Trump’s job growth claims neglect to mention how job creation was slower than the last three years:

    These simple facts did not stop the pro-Trump sycophants at Fox News from continuing to push their favorable talking points. On the June 12 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, guest Stuart Varney laid out the same argument that Trump had tweeted and added that “it’s a disgrace” that news outlets had been focused on Trump’s scandals instead of giving the president credit for a strong economy. Later on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, guest Melissa Francis again pushed the 594,000 jobs created between February through May as proof of a strong economy under Trump.

    Since Trump was elected, Fox has pivoted from mischaracterizing reports on the economy to blast Obama to mischaracterizing reports on the economy to hype or defend the Trump administration. Fox personalities frequently heap praise on economic indicators weaker than those they had once excoriated. The network has also reversed completely on how it reports jobs data, giving Trump credit for jobs he didn’t even create, and reporting glowingly on job creation under Trump that had become routine under Obama.

  • RNC's false talking point about Comey came from “alt-right” trolls

    Lie that Comey said Trump didn't pressure him on Russia-related investigations came from an “alt-right” troll and then was picked up by fake news purveyors

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    The Republican National Committee (RNC) pushed a false talking point that originated from the “alt-right”/fake news ecosystem to try to discredit former FBI Director James Comey’s June 8 testimony to the Senate intelligence committee.

    During his testimony, Comey said that he believed President Donald Trump fired him due to the FBI’s Russia probe, saying, “I know I was fired because of something about the way I was conducting the Russia investigation was in some way putting pressure on him, in some way irritating him, and he decided to fire me because of that.” He discussed a number of other issues as well, including saying that Trump directed him to end an investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and that he wrote memos on his one-on-one interactions with the president because he feared Trump might lie about the exchanges.

    Responding to the testimony, the RNC tweeted, “#BigLeagueTruth: Comey testified under oath that @POTUS never asked him or anyone else to end any investigation. #ComeyHearing.” The tweet included a video of Comey’s previous testimony before the Senate intelligence committee -- on May 3 -- in which Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) asked him if “the attorney general or senior officials at the Department of Justice” tried to block an FBI investigation, to which Comey replied, “Not in my experience.”

    Contrary to the RNC’s implication, Comey did not contradict himself. On May 3, he was talking specifically about the Department of Justice, not the president. The RNC’s false claim was pushed early on by “alt-right” trolls Jack Posobiec and Nick Short, and was then repeated by fake news purveyors and other “alt-right” outlets before more traditional right-wing media figures and outlets, such as Fox & Friends and Rush Limbaugh, picked it up. Since then, Republican politicians such as Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have also repeated the false assertion. The false claim even impacted the stock market.

    In a statement to Media Matters, Sen. Hirono criticized the RNC for taking “a far-right conspiracy theory as fact,” and noted that she “only asked former Director Comey about pressure from officials at the Department of Justice”:

    “If you listen to the exchange, it’s clear that I only asked former Director Comey about pressure from officials at the Department of Justice, but the RNC chose to move forward and take a far-right conspiracy theory as fact. This sends a clear message that Republicans are willing to share fake news and dangerous narratives in their quest to deny Russian interference in our elections. Unfortunately, we’ve come to expect no less from the mouthpiece of an Administration that deals in alternative facts.”

    The RNC’s incorrect claim is yet another example of how the “alt-right”/fake news ecosystem has been able to amplify its misinformation out of the fringe, pushing forged documents, baseless conspiracy theories, and smear campaigns into more of the mainstream.

  • After Comey’s “extremely damning” testimony, Fox & Friends focuses on distractions

    How Trump's favorite morning show is deploying a "shiny objects" strategy, in 19 screenshots

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Yesterday, in damning testimony before the Senate intelligence committee, former FBI director James Comey alleged that President Donald Trump had grossly abused his power. According to Comey, the president tried to get him to declare himself loyal, pushed him to end an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and then fired him after the director refused to comply in an effort to terminate the FBI’s investigation into whether Trump’s associates colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election. After each of his seven one-on-one meetings and phone calls with the president, Comey said, he detailed the interaction in a memo because he believed that Trump might lie about what had happened.

    But if you turned on Fox & Friends, the president’s favorite morning news program, this morning, these crucial issues of whether Trump is undermining the rule of law were all but unmentioned. Instead, the program’s hosts dedicated their efforts to undermining Comey’s reputation by directing their audience’s attention toward a series of shiny objects of limited relevance. For their efforts, they were praised and thanked by Trump himself.

    The president is in trouble, and Fox knows it. Immediately following Comey’s testimony, several network personalities expressed concern about the political damage the former FBI director had done to the president and raised questions about whether he would still be able to rally the Republican Party to accomplish his legislative goals. Andrew Napolitano, the network’s senior judicial analyst, warned that it is now all but certain that special counsel Bob Mueller would be interrogating Trump under oath and that Trump’s actions could rise to the level of an impeachable offense.

    “The most damning thing was when Jim Comey suggested a quid pro quo,” Napolitano said at one point. “He suggested that the president basically gave him the impression, ‘Here’s the quid pro quo, Jim: You want to keep your job as director of FBI? Lay off Flynn.’ That to me was new and was extremely damning and quite frankly was not addressed by Marc Kasowitz, the president’s lawyer.”

    But Comey’s “extremely damning” allegations were absent from Fox’s coverage this morning. And Napolitano, who regularly appears on the program to discuss legal issues, was not invited to join the hosts on the show’s curvy couch.

    Instead, a series of Trump lackeys rotated through the program to focus attention on two issues of only tangential relevance: whether Comey had behaved properly in sharing his memos with a college professor and asking him to share them with the media, and a conversation Comey detailed in which then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch asked him to describe the FBI’s review of Hillary Clinton’s email server as a “matter” rather than an “investigation.”

    For the president -- and for Fox & Friends -- Comey’s disclosures around the memos are incredibly damaging to his credibility because they show that he is a “leaker.” In reality, as Politico Magazine Editor-in-Chief Blake Hounshell noted, “It's not a ‘leak’ if you are a private citizen sharing unclassified recollections,” and legal experts -- including Napolitano -- quickly shot down the notion that Comey had behaved improperly. Nonetheless, Fox & Friends was captivated by the statement to Fox from an anonymous “source close to the president” that “they are considering their options and whether Comey’s leak to the media violated his FBI employment agreement.”

    The Lynch incident is similarly being portrayed as critical. But Lynch reportedly wanted “matter” used “to neither confirm nor deny that the investigation existed — as was standard Justice Department and F.B.I. practice,” and she ultimately said she would accept the FBI’s recommendations for the case, leaving Comey to make his own decision to close the investigation without pressing charges.

    Ultimately, these issues are distractions when weighed against the central question in play: Is the president of the United States abusing his power? The president’s media allies are making a conscious decision to avoid engaging with this question. Instead, they are using these sideshows to again bolster a parallel narrative for their audience in which the president is beset on all sides by lying enemies. Only by ignoring what is actually happening can they hope to stem the president’s sinking poll numbers. But the bubble is starting to collapse.

    Here are some screenshots from this morning’s Fox & Friends detailing what the program focused on -- and what it did not: