On Friday, President Trump tweeted a quote from an article that was, for him, an odd news source: the legal news blog Lawfare. Citing the article, without any context or a link, he called this week’s court decision blocking his travel ban “disgraceful.”
LAWFARE: "Remarkably, in the entire opinion, the panel did not bother even to cite this (the) statute." A disgraceful decision!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2017
Was Trump reading Lawfare? The answer seems to be no — he was watching TV.
Just minutes before Trump’s tweet, several journalists quickly realized, MSNBC’s Morning Joe aired the quote on-screen. (For the record, Lawfare editor Benjamin Wittes soon suggested Trump was taking his words out of context.)
8:03am on MSNBC, 8:15am on @realDonaldTrump. (h/t @EthanKlapper) pic.twitter.com/ldHB4sWow2— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 10, 2017
Trump has a well-documented love of cable news, but it’s only in recent weeks that his habit of tweeting about what he sees is coming into focus.
For no immediately noticeable reason, Trump tweeted about sending “the feds” to Chicago to fight crime in the city.
If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible "carnage" going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
Just before, this graphic appeared on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:
Here was the graphic on The O'Reilly Factor just over an hour before Trump started tweeting Chicago crime statistics https://t.co/KMYxDiRHOa pic.twitter.com/NwPXeIT3G2— Michael Calderone (@mlcalderone) January 25, 2017
The list goes on. A Fox News segment about Chelsea Manning apparently inspired Trump to call her an “ungrateful traitor.”
14 minutes apart: Fox says "ungrateful traitor," Trump says "ungrateful traitor," Fox says "weak leader," Trump says "weak leader." pic.twitter.com/f7urTOUG1L— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 26, 2017
And a segment on CNN led to Trump voicing support for an extremely questionable project on “voter fraud.”
7:25am, CNN has Gregg Phillips on, @ChrisCuomo challenges Phillips' lack of voter fraud evidence. 8:12am, Trump tweets about Gregg Phillips. pic.twitter.com/gQAvSAMXlB— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 27, 2017
Sending seemingly off-hand tweets is hardly new behavior for Trump, but the link to TV has been either little-noticed before now or more pronounced since he took office. But as he keeps tweeting — and, reportedly, keeps watching cable news in the White House — it’s not unreasonable to expect even more, similar incidents soon.