President Trump once again tweets info he first saw on Fox News
On Saturday, President Trump sent out an early morning tweet complaining about the media's lack of reporting about a decline in the national debt during his brief tenure.
The debt statistics, which first appeared earlier in the week in a post on the conservative blog Gateway Pundit. were rated "mostly false" by PolitiFact.
"Considering that Trump hasn't enacted any fiscal legislation, it's a bit of a stretch for him to take credit for any changes in debt levels," Dan Mitchell, a libertarian economist and senior fellow at the Cato Institute, told PolitiFact. "Debt levels go up and down in the short run based on independent factors such as quarterly tax payments and predetermined expenditure patterns."
Nevertheless, less than an hour before the president's tweet, the statistic was touted by former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain on Fox News, who credited Trump with reducing the national debt after serving just a month in office.
While Trump has attacked other news channels and publishers, he almost always speaks glowingly of Fox News, often congratulating the network on its ratings and labeling its coverage of him "great." He has said that Fox & Friends is one of his favorite programs, and he has called the hosts "very honorable people," saying "they have the most honest morning show."
In fact, it's so well known Trump watches morning news shows like Fox & Friends and Morning Joe that HBO host John Oliver bought ads during the early morning hours on MSNBC, CNN and Fox News in an attempt to reach the president.
"Trump sees something that jibes with his worldview, doesn't check it, half-remembers it, and then passes it on, at which point it takes on a life of its own and appears to validate itself," Oliver said.
So it's not surprising that many of Trump's tweets can be traced back to segments on Fox News. Boston Magazine scribe David Bernstein predicted Trump would tweet about the debt numbers after watching the Cain segment.
Trump's apparent penchant for repeating facts from Fox News hasn't come without controversy. Last weekend, the White House had to clarify comments the president made during a Florida rally where he seemed to suggest there was a terrorist incident in Sweden the night before.
As it turns out, Trump was referencing a misleading Fox News segment that aired the night before his speech, focusing on a supposed rise in crime Sweden due to the country's admittance of a large number of refugees (government statistics from Sweden do not corroborate the claims made on Fox News).
Here are three other times this month Trump has appeared to tweet something he likely first saw on Fox News (New York magazine has tweets going back to last November).
Feb. 15, 2017
Surrounded by controversy over his administration's potential ties to Russia, Trump pointed out that Crimea, a region in Ukraine, was taken by Russia during his predecessor's administration.
As New York Times reporter Sopan Deb pointed out, that was a fact that was mentioned on Fox & Friends less than an hour earlier.
Feb. 14, 2017
In a Valentine's Day tweet, Trump blasted the media for reporting information that was leaked by the intelligence community.
Trump seemed to get the wording from a chyron that was displayed on Fox News just minutes before the president's tweet.
Feb. 2, 2017
Before the sun was up, Trump was on Twitter posting about the controversy surrounding former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, whose talk at U.C. Berkeley was canceled amid protests on campus.
Just a half-hour before the president sent his tweet, Todd Starnes appeared on Fox & Friends to suggest that federal funding at U.C. Berkeley should be pulled because of the controversy.