“Turn on Fox,” he told ABC’s David Muir when confronted by criticism of his speech at CIA headquarters, “and see how it was covered.”
Trump said other networks, including ABC, covered the speech “very inaccurately,” but he said Fox got it right. He cited Fox’s coverage three times. “That speech was a home run. That speech, if you look at Fox, OK, I’ll mention you — we see what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches,” Trump said.
Wednesday’s ABC interview illustrated Fox’s newfound influence in the White House. It was visible again on Thursday morning, when the channel’s early morning show, “Fox & Friends First,” had a short segment about Chelsea Manning’s critique of former President Obama.
The on-screen graphic called Manning an “ungrateful traitor” in an oversized font. The host, Abby Huntsman, said Manning called Obama a “weak leader.” (In fact, Manning implied that but did not call Obama “weak.”)
Huntsman’s segment was at 5:50 a.m. At 6:04 a.m., Trump tweeted: “Ungrateful TRAITOR Chelsea Manning, who should never have been released from prison, is now calling President Obama a weak leader. Terrible!”
Trump’s tweets are frequently inspired by things he sees on television. Thursday was one of the clearest-cut examples yet.
“People claim Putin is Trump’s puppet master but it appears that role is actually occupied by Fox & Friends,” The Intercept reporter Glenn Greenwald wrote on Twitter.
Trump’s media diet also includes CNN, The New York Times and the New York Post.
But lately it appears his tweets have been provoked by Fox. On Tuesday he vowed to send “the feds” into Chicago to curb violence shortly after a segment on Bill O’Reilly’s show about the same subject.
He also tweeted his congratulations to Fox for having high Inauguration Day ratings.
Obama expressed criticism of Fox News and other conservative media outlets many times during his presidency. But Trump is going much further by cheering for networks he likes and castigating others as “fake news.”
Trump’s complaint about coverage of the CIA speech centered around the post-speech reactions. CNN and other news outlets reported that some members of the intelligence community were disturbed by Trump’s self-aggrandizing behavior and tone while speaking at the CIA memorial wall.
“There was love in the room,” Trump insisted to Muir, calling the speech “a big hit, a big success” and a “home run.”
Trump said networks other than Fox “tried to demean the speech.”
The president’s remarks fit into a pattern of media criticism. Trump press secretary Sean Spicer said earlier this week that the White House views the media’s narrative as “demoralizing.”
The ABC interview shows Trump seeking out positive reinforcement by tuning into Fox.
At another point in the interview, when discussing his discredited belief about widespread voter fraud, Trump said “millions of people agree with me.”
He didn’t name Fox explicitly, but he said, “if you would’ve looked on one of the other networks and all of the people that were calling in they’re saying, ‘We agree with Mr. Trump. We agree.’ They’re very smart people.”
Fox News host Sean Hannity will be interviewing Trump on Thursday.