President Donald Trump is not only a rabid fan of cable news titan Fox News but also regularly calls the network to praise segments and explain how he’s “learned something,” according to a report published Thursday.
Many have theorized that the commander in chief often parrots exactly what he’s seen on a Fox program—in particular, morning show Fox & Friends—on his Twitter account. But Vanity Fair reports that the president is far more involved with the network than originally believed.
Indeed, Trump has reportedly turned into a de facto Roger Ailes, the late former head of the conservative media outlet, who was known for an iron fist and meticulous control of Fox News’s programming.
“What [Trump] usually does is, he’ll call after a show and say, ‘I really enjoyed that,’” an unnamed former Fox anchor told Vanity Fair. “The highest compliment is, ‘I really learned something.’ Then you know he got a new policy idea.”
An unnamed Fox executive said of Trump, “He’s sort of viewed as this crazy person who calls all the time.”
The president has denied watching much television, but The New York Times reported last month that he watches at least four hours a day.
Furthermore, others claim that Fox hosts and staff are encouraged not to cover reports or stories that could make the administration or Trump look poor.
For example, the network had trouble covering the damning book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff, which claims those around the president have questioned his fitness for office and overall mental stability.
Instead, the network often harps on Trump’s former political foe, Hillary Clinton. Fox News viewers reportedly respond in a far more positive way to negative coverage of Clinton and greatly dislike reports critical of Trump. In turn, the network focuses on coverage tailored to Trump backers and the president.
“He has the same embattled view as a typical Fox viewer—that ‘the liberal elites hate me; they’re trying to bring me down,’” another executive was quoted as saying.
The report largely paints the network as a propaganda machine for the president and conservatives, which makes some of the staff uneasy.
One staffer told Vanity Fair, “It’s freaky to see him tweeting at Fox & Friends. That doesn’t help us. We’re not state television.”
Trump has often praised Fox News and its morning show for its coverage and slammed other mainstream media outlets. CNN and MSNBC, in particular, have been called out by the president for spreading “fake news,” and he says they are failing.