NEW YORK CITY — US President Donald Trump has a folder delivered to him twice a day that’s full of positive headlines, tweets, interviews, and sometimes photographs of him on TV “looking powerful,” VICE News reported on Tuesday.
The folder, dubbed “the Propaganda Document” by some in the White House, is prepared by the communications team. The only feedback the White House press shop has ever gotten about the folder, VICE said, was that “it needs to be more f—— positive.”
The process of putting the folder together is long and tedious, and starts at 6 a.m. ET every morning in the Republican National Committee’s “war room,” according to VICE. Staffers keep tabs on the morning shows on three major cable news networks — CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News — while searching for positive headlines about Trump on the internet. They then email the White House communications team proposed tweets, transcripts, and headlines to include.
And when there isn’t enough positive information to show the president, his communications office asks RNC staffers for photos that depict Trump favourably, VICE reported.
Although White House sources told VICE that former chief of staff Reince Priebus and former White House press secretary Sean Spicer used to vy for the chance to personally give Trump the folder, Spicer disputed the account when he was contacted.
“While I won’t comment on materials we share with the president, this is not accurate on several levels,” he told VICE. He did not elaborate on what, specifically, about the story was untrue.
Before his inauguration in January, Trump told the news website Axios that he liked bullet points, and that he didn’t need “200-page reports on something that can be handled on a page.” Intelligence officials thus condensed the main points Trump could bring up in his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin into “tweet-length sentences.”
Reuters, citing an anonymous source, reported in May that National Security Council officials would strategically include Trump’s name in “as many paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he’s mentioned.”
Trump and the media
Trump’s relationship with the press is more tumultuous than past presidents’. He has shown a tendency to focus on outlets that are more favourable to him, like Fox News. He frequently praises the network’s morning show, “FOX & Friends,” as well as pro-Trump commentators like Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs.
In July, he drew condemnation for launching a personal attack “Morning Joe” co-host Mike Brzezinski, who frequently lambastes him on the air.
“I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came … to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!” Trump said in a pair of tweets.
Trump also raised eyebrows earlier that month, when he tweeted out a video of him body-slamming and punching WWE CEO Vince McMahon.
In the edited video Trump tweeted, an image of the CNN logo was superimposed on McMahon’s face to make it appear as though Trump was pummelling the news network.
“#FraudNewsCNN #FNN,” Trump wrote, presumably shortening his moniker for the channel, “Fraud News Network.”
A July Gallup poll found that 35% of Americans thought media coverage of Trump was “too tough,” while 34% said it was “not tough enough.” Another 28% think the tone of his coverage is “just right.”
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