Early Friday morning, Donald Trump began tweeting about Senate Republicans’ approval of his budget plan, which will presumably lead the way to his administration’s oft-promised tax cuts. However, the president decided to interrupt his train of thought with a random tweet about an apparent rise in crime in the United Kingdom. Quoting a “report” without any citations or links, he wrote, “United Kingdom crime rises 13% annually amid spread of Radical Islamic terror.” Unable to leave it at that, however, Trump added, “Not good, we must keep America safe!”
He never followed up with a proper link, let alone an explanation for the dubious 13% figure, and hasn’t tweeted since as of this writing. Even so, Trump’s alarmist take on the U.K.’s apparent crime problem sent the British news media into a tailspin. BBC News revealed the aforementioned percentage came from Office for National Statistics’s most recent crime report, which indicated “a 13% increase across all offences in the 12 months to June.” While the American president makes it a habit of consuming 24-hour cable news regularly, however, no prior evidence has suggested an interest in the BBC and others.
Enter Media Matters For America, the news media watchdog organization, which discovered a particularly American source for the 13% figure: the One America News Network (OANN). In a segment that aired at 6:25 am ET, the “racist, conspiracy-mongering” outlet’s main feed was underscored by a chyron that read, “Report: U.K. Crime Rises 13% Annually Amid Spread Of Radical Islamic Terror.” Considering that Trump’s tweet, which arrived at 6:31 am ET, is almost word-for-word the same, it sounds like we’ve got a winner.
Of course, aside from similar wording, the exact same percentage figure and timing, there’s no exact proof that Trump was watching OANN on Friday morning. Then again, he probably was — especially since this is not the first time has responded on social media to something seen on television. Nor is Friday’s tweet the first time the president has emphasized the phrase “Radical Islamic terror,” which has been a staple of his administration since his inauguration speech in January. Interestingly enough, while the OANN report mentioned this specific phrase, the actual ONS crime report did not.
According to The Guardian, Trump’s tweet was “erroneously” linking terrorism et al. to the apparent rise in crime. “The report barely mentions terrorism other than to refer on one occasion to the impact recent terrorist attacks in Britain had on the headline murder rate,” including the London bridge and Manchester concert attacks. And to make matters worse, some believe the actual report’s numbers are rather exaggerated. According to one op-ed columnist, the report’s statistics “are part of a concerted campaign by police forces in England and Wales to resist cuts, boost budgets and bias workloads.”