President Trump likes to watch cable news, and he likes to tweet. Often, he tweets about what he saw on cable news, and some of those tweets may end up becoming White House policy.
Trump has been clear about his TV habit—the President begins and ends each day by tuning into cable news and does not read books, according to the New York Times. During his campaign for the presidency, Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd he even gets military advice from the news.
“I watch the shows,” he said at the time.
At least five times since he took office on Jan. 20, Trump has tweeted about policy ideas and thoughts that seem directly related to news that was being shown on channels such as Fox News. The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.
On Thursday morning, Trump threatened to pull federal funding from the University of California at Berkeley after violent protests over a conservative speaker Milo Yiannopoulos. His tweet appeared to be based on the discussion from Fox & Friends that morning, in which host Todd Starnes called for Trump to block federal funding from universities that aim to “silence conservative voices.”
“Free speech for all or no federal money,” he said.
About a half hour later, Trump tweeted: “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”
This follows a pattern set well before he took office.
In November, he sparked controversy as President-elect after tweeting “there must be consequences” for those who burn American flags about half an hour after Fox & Friends aired a segment about Hampshire College removing the flag from its campus after it was burned in protest over Trump.
During the first week of his presidency, Trump echoed what he saw on TV four times, beginning with a demand that the city of Chicago solve its “carnage” problem, or he would “send in the Feds!” The Huffington Post‘s Michael Calderone pointed out that Trump’s tweet, sent Jan. 24, listed Chicago crime statistics shared on Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor just an hour before.
Two days later, Trump said it was “terrible” that “ungrateful TRAITOR” Chelsea Manning called former President Obama a “weak leader” in a column in the Guardian.
CNN’s Brian Stelter noted that just 14 minutes earlier, Fox News had used the same words to describe Manning, whose 35-year prison sentence for leaking government documents to WikiLeaks was commuted by Obama last month.
Two tweets from Trump about voter fraud followed different television segments about the issue, something he has seized upon, claiming, without proof, that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election. The first, posted Jan. 25 at 7:10 a.m., announced Trump’s plans for a “major investigation into VOTER FRAUD,” and came just as a Today Show segment questioning why he had not called for an investigation concluded.
The Washington Post reported that the White House said an investigation into voter fraud had been under discussion for weeks, but prior to the Today Show episode and Trump’s tweet, officials had maintained they were not yet investigating.
Then, on Jan. 27, Trump tweeted about Gregg Phillips, a Texas man who has repeatedly claimed, without any concrete evidence, that 3 million votes were cast by “non-citizens.”
The note of encouragement from Trump came about 45 minutes after CNN interviewed Phillips about his unfounded claims that 3 million votes were cast illegally.
Phillips accusation was debunked by several independent experts and election officials from both the Republican and Democratic parties. Trump, however, has continued to stand by his claim.