Fox & Friends has spent years being the punch line of every joke about Fox News. It’s been called “TV’s dumbest news show”: a toxic mix of internet conspiracy theories, right-wing propaganda, and general absurdity. The show’s hosts have accused President Obama of going to school at a madrassa, argued that Spongebob Squarepants promotes a global warming agenda, and once tried to roast marshmallows with a plastic spoon. It’s a show that’s often parodied but rarely taken seriously outside of the Fox News bubble.
And it’s now one of the most influential news shows in the US, because it has a direct line to the White House.
That’s thanks to President Trump, who regularly watches the show and tweets what he sees. Trump regularly tweets about Fox & Friends’ morning news segments, often quotes Fox & Friends chyrons verbatim, and tags the show in his tweets. One study found that Trump tweets most frequently between 6 and 9 a.m. — during Fox & Friends’ timeslot.
Fox & Friends has noticed the attention. A Vox study of 17 months of Fox & Friends transcripts found that, after the 2016 presidential election, the show began using more language aimed at influencing Trump’s behavior — phrases like “we have got” and “we are going.”
That’s given Fox & Friends tremendous power to hijack the news cycle; to get other networks talking about the right-wing horror stories and conspiracies that would otherwise never escape the Fox News bubble.