The sources of information for many of President Trump’s tweets and some of his public statements have become clearer over time.
Trump has in recent months tweeted information after apparently seeing it on a television news program or reading it in on a news website.
The president seems to favor certain news programs — Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” talk show in particular, which he tagged in two tweets this morning.
For eight years Russia "ran over" President Obama, got stronger and stronger, picked-off Crimea and added missiles. Weak! @foxandfriends— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 7, 2017
Don't worry, getting rid of state lines, which will promote competition, will be in phase 2 & 3 of healthcare rollout. @foxandfriends— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 7, 2017
He referred to “Fox & Friends” three additional times on social media in the past eight days. He hasn’t directly mentioned any other news sites in that period except to highlight a favorable poll result mentioned in The National Journal.
Older tweets include tags of various other news outlets, though those tweets are largely his critiques of their coverage.
Trickle down to Twitter
Trump has been open about how he regularly watches cable TV news, and the gaps seem to be shrinking between when something airs on a news show and when it ends up in his Twitter feed.
How Trump consumes cable news can be on display in public appearances, as at a Florida rally Feb. 18, when he said, “You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden.”
He tweeted the next day that his comment “was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden.”
Trump’s tweets appear to originate from a mix of conservative sources, as seems the case with his Saturday tweets of an unsubstantiated allegation that President Obama tapped his phones before the election. A Breitbart News article highlighting similar allegations made on a recent episode of conservative radio host Mark Levin’s program was circulating in the West Wing the day before Trump tweeted the charges about Obama, sources told ABC News.
Fox News aired a segment the night before in which House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was asked about concerns that “the Obama administration may have been surveilling members of the Trump campaign.”
Tweeting unverified information can result in sharing inaccurate content.
That was the case this morning, when Trump tweeted that "122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!"
The tweet followed reporting this morning on “Fox & Friends” that included an onscreen graphic of the number of Guantanamo Bay “prisoners re-engaged in terrorism.” Fox did not break down when those detainees were released and under which administration.
But Trump did, making his tweet inaccurate. According to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 113 of the prisoners in question were released during George W. Bush’s presidency, and only nine were released during Obama’s tenure.
Asked about the claim this afternoon at a news conference, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said, “Obviously, the president meant in totality,” not just under Obama.
Such an inaccuracy is an example of what can happen when sources and information are not verified, according to presidential historian and ABC News contributor Mark Updegrove.
“The danger in a president using television coverage to assess national and international events is that it’s so often based on punditry — people’s opinions and not fact,” Updegrove said on “Good Morning America” in a segment that aired today.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described The National Journal. The publication, owned by Atlantic Media, describes itself as nonpartisan.