On the surface, US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s morning routines don’t have much in common.
But the two world leaders actually share a similar habit:
They both receive a folder of glowing press coverage toward the beginning of their respective workdays.
Business Insider’s Sonam Sheth reported that the Trump is sent a daily compilation of “positive headlines, tweets, interviews, and sometimes photographs of him on TV ‘looking powerful.'” According to VICE News, the folder is put together every morning in the Republican National Committee’s “war room.”
The report is usually delivered at 9:30 a.m., though the departure of former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former Press Secretary Sean Spicer has thrown off that schedule lately.
It’s typical for presidential administrations to keep an eye on the media, as VICE reported, but a folder specifically dedicated to favourable coverage is a new concept. President Barack Obama’s senior adviser David Axelrod told VICE that Obama would have “roared with laughter” if he’d received such a report.
But Trump isn’t the only major political figure to kick the day off with encouraging headlines. Putin has a similar morning habit.
After eating breakfast and exercising, the Russian president sits down for his daily briefing. Newsweek’s Ben Judah reports that Putin is “obsessed with information” and receives folders filled with press clippings every day. He usually studies those before even looking at intelligence reports.
The clips are divided into three groups, according to Judah — Russia’s tabloids, Russia’s “quality” press, and the international media. Putin likes to start off by reading clips from the “obsequious national tabloids.” The country’s tabloids tend to take a more overtly pro-Kremlin and nationalistic stance. Just to name one example, Mashable reported that “tabloid king” and LifeNews owner Ashot Gabrelyanov blasts Putin critics as “traitors” and has a shrine to the president in his office.
Freedom House labels Russia’s press as “not free.” Two out of three of the country’s main television networks are controlled by the Kremlin, while the third is owned by a state-controlled corporation, according to BBC. When it comes to Russian newspapers, the BBC reports that “the most popular titles support Kremlin policy” and Russian journalists who criticise the government risk being attacked or killed.
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