Donald Trump’s false claim that “radical Islamic terror” had fuelled a surge in violent crime in Britain was apparently a verbatim repeat of a TV report he was watching from a pro-Trump news network.
Trump cited a “just out report” on Friday that the 13% increase in crimes reported to police had come “amid” the spread of terrorism.
“Not good, we must keep America safe!” he tweeted, in an apparent attempt to win support for his controversial ban on immigration from predominantly Muslim countries.
The suggestion terror fuelled the rise in crime is demonstrably false. Of the 5.2 million offences covered in the statistics, only 329 were terrorism-related.
“It is appalling that we have reached the point where inflammatory and ignorant statements from the President of the United States are now seen as normal,” Labour MP Yvette Cooper said of the tweet.
Journalists later noted Trump sent his tweets six minutes after One America News Network (OANN) was reporting the story with a chyron that said: “UK Crime Rises 13% Annually Amid Spread Of Radical Islamic Terror.”
According to liberal US press watchdog Media Matters, OANN “has a history of shilling for Trump” and “pushing shameful conspiracy theories” about Seth Rich, a murdered employee of the Democratic National Committee whose death triggered pro-Trump conspiracy theories about the 2016 election.
CNN’s Brian Stelter called OANN “a small Fox-like conservative cable channel” and said Trump had quoted one of its graphics “verbatim”.
OANN responded on Twitter to say: “Thanks for continuing to watch, Mr President...”
It pointed to the network’s coverage of the White House’s demonstrably untrue claim that Trump’s crowd at the inauguration had been the biggest ever.
The network attracted a lot of attention in January when Trump called one of its reporters during a press conference and then congratulated him on his “great question”.
Trump was interviewed on the network in August 2015 by guest host Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and Republican vice-presidential nominee who endorsed him.
It also hired Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, as a commentator.
Media Matters noted OANN is available through Directv, a broadcast service which Trump is reported to use.
It is not the first time people have noted a link between Trump’s early morning tweets and the segments being shown on American news.
The president is a fan of conservative network Fox News’ Fox And Friends.
The show once tried to get Trump to switch lights in the White House on and off during their broadcast to show he was watching.