White House aides often rely on the president’s voracious appetite for news in order to push certain policy agendas, according to a Politico report.
The president frequently peruses cable news, praising shows that favour him, like Fox News’ “Fox and Friends,” and blasting channels that are more critical of him, like MSNBC and CNN. In addition to cable news, Trump also routinely reads print publications like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New York Post, and The Wall Street Journal.
West Wing aides, who are aware of Trump’s habits, sometimes slip him news stories in an effort to advance their policy agenda, but other times they do so “to gain an edge in the seemingly endless ‘Game of Thrones’ inside the West Wing,” the Politico report said, apparently referencing the frequent infighting among top White House staffers like chief strategist Steve Bannon and senior adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.
But the constant stream of input from “both official and unofficial channels” can lead to consequences. Recently, for example, deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland reportedly gave Trump a printout of two Time magazine covers. One was supposedly from the 1970s and warned of a coming ice age. The other, Politico notes, was from 2008 and was about surviving global warming.
Although Trump was quickly incensed by what he saw as the media’s dishonesty, the 1970s cover was apparently fake — the result of an Internet hoax that’s been circulated for years.
McFarland did not respond to Politico’s requests for comment, but a White House official familiar with the matter told Politico her move was an honest mistake that was “fake but accurate.”
“While the specific cover is fake, it is true that there was a period in the 70s when people were predicting an ice age. The broader point I think was accurate,” the official said.
In this case, the report said, West Wing staff were able to intervene and figure out the truth before Trump made any public statements about the topic, as he has frequently done in the past after becoming frustrated with media coverage.
The Time cover wasn’t the only hoax placed in front of Trump recently.
In February, someone reportedly gave him an article from GotNews.com, which is run by Charles C. Johnson, a far-right personality who was banned from Twitter after multiple complaints of harassment were made against him. The article said that deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh was “the source behind a bunch of leaks” from the White House. Upon reading the article, Trump reportedly started asking his staff about Walsh.
“I can tell you unequivocally that the story was shared all around the White House,” Johnson, who said he tracks the IP addresses of visitors to his website, told Politico. Walsh left the White House and went on to advise a pro-Trump group.
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