With Trump calling into "Fox & Friends" today, here's a thread about the morning show's power, from the sources I interviewed for HoaxTheBook.com (1/7)
The length of Trump's phoners is something of a punchline among rank-and-file Fox staffers. "When Trump was booked for 8:10, and we had an assignment for 8:40, we didn't bother writing it, because we knew he'd talk until the end of the hour," a morning show producer said
Another running joke among the staff: The fact that Trump rates the hosts. Ainsley Earhardt: a 10. Steve Doocy: a 12. Trump graded Brian Kilmeade to his face in a 2019 interview: "I used to say you, you were a solid 6, maybe a 7, but you're getting much better."
"Fox & Friends" embodies everything that Fox fans love and critics lament about the network: The cheap partisanship, "resentment news" bent, the lack of vetting and fact-checking. Trump has been a friend of the show for a decade, dating back to his weekly call-in segment in 2011.
In the weekly calls, Trump got to know Fox’s priorities and the viewers who became his voters. From Page 46 of HOAX: "Through the topics chosen by producers, through the coaching of the hosts, and through the feedback on Twitter, Trump learned how to be the Fox News president."
When Trump was elected, "the hosts realized, 'This is a real opportunity for me too,'" an insider said.

"We started to make decisions for Trump," a former host said, "meaning a lot of the decisions that were made on stories to cover were based on the fact that he was watching."
This quote from a former A.M. producer has gotten a lot of attention: "People think he's calling up Fox & Friends and telling us what to say. Hell no. It's the opposite. WE tell HIM what to say." There's a LOT more in the book – order your copy at BuyHoax.com (7/7)

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More from @brianstelter

21 Sep
Is America slouching toward autocracy?

That's the Q I opened Sunday's @ReliableSources with. Almost every day there are new signs of democratic backsliding, new warnings from political scientists. Alarm bells are ringing for all to hear, like Trump mocking @AliVelshi's injury
Gloating about a reporter being hit by a rubber bullet is autocratic, not democratic. We all know this, don't we? cnn.com/videos/busines…
A segment of the U.S. population, a minority, has long held authoritarian leanings. E.g.: Polls showing a preference for a strongman leader to provide protection. Trump has enlivened that segment. E.g.: Rallygoers cheered when Trump told the Velshi story.

mediaite.com/tv/cnns-stelte…
Read 5 tweets
4 Sep
Trump: "It's a HOAX. Just like the fake dossier was a hoax. Just like the Russia-Russia-Russia was a hoax. It was a total hoax."

Okay, it's time for a thread on Trump's favorite four-letter word...
Trump has been using the word "hoax" more and more every year. The word has become a building block in his permanent campaign of disbelief, as I wrote in this NYT op-ed nytimes.com/2020/08/24/opi…
"Hoax is a potent word, in being an angry and mean one," the linguist @JohnHMcWhorter told me. It "carries an air of accusation, of transgression," in a way that "fake news" does not. McWhorter called it "the quintessence of Trumpian self-expression."
Read 6 tweets
29 Aug
I see that the president is tweeting about ratings again. Time for a #thread...
In HOAXthebook.com, I describe how Trump twisted his "Apprentice" ratings to tell a persuasive story about his popularity even when his audience was slipping away. He used to send media reporters 🙋‍♂️ angry messages when we didn't buy his spin.
Billy Bush recalled a day when he called out Trump for this:

"Wait a minute, Donald, you haven't been #1 in 5 or 4 years, not in any category, not in any demo."

Trump: "Well, did you see last Thursday? Last Thursday, 18–49, last five minutes!"

Bush: "Nope, still not true."
Read 9 tweets
3 Aug
Thread: Fox News normally has a big, steady daytime audience. Example: Wednesday's 9am and 3pm hours both had 1.7 mil viewers. But Thursday was different — because many, many Fox viewers changed the channel during the John Lewis funeral. (1/3)
Fox had nearly 1.9 mil viewers in the 9am hour, but once the funeral began, viewership collapsed: 825,000 viewers in the 11am hour, 540,000 in the 1pm hour. CNN & MSNBC gained audience, which is normal during a big event (2/3)
After Obama's eulogy for Lewis, Fox viewers started to come back... The network averaged 595,000 viewers in the 2pm hour, 1.1 mil at 3pm, 1.4 mil at 4pm. Yet more evidence that Fox has totally demonized Democrats? (3/3) cnn.com/videos/busines…
Read 4 tweets
30 Jul
This is a thread about Trump's "delay" tweet, democratic backsliding, and the importance of believing your own eyes & ears. It begins on Sunday, January 22, 2017, the first weekend of the Trump presidency. (1/14)
Anchoring a weekly news program can be strange sometimes. You get one shot a week. Gotta make it count. So in late 2016 and early 2017 I repeatedly brought up Trump's authoritarian tone. Right wing blogs piled on the ridicule. (2/14)
"This is what strongmen do. This is what happens in authoritarian regimes." I second-guessed myself from time to time, like any journalist should... I probed my own scripts and arguments for weaknesses. Was I describing the situation correctly? (3/14)
Read 14 tweets
23 Jul
This must-read by @ErikWemple, about Tucker Carlson's false accusations against the NYT, contains a statement from Times editor Dean Baquet that's worth quoting in full... washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/…
Carlson "misled his viewers into believing we would publish his address when he was aware that we had no intention of doing so & when the network was specifically told we would not reveal his home. Many wrongly think that we did publish his address & even a picture of his house."
Tucker's lie "inspired the exact same kind of personal harassment against others which he so indignantly & falsely claimed to be a victim of himself. Hours after the broadcast someone attempted to break into the home of a photographer who doesn't even know where Carlson lives..."
Read 4 tweets

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