Nearly 100 days into his presidency, Trump consumes TV almost as voraciously as he did prior to occupying the Oval Office, according to a Washington Post report published on Sunday.
According to the article, Trump turns on the TV as soon as he wakes up, watches periodically throughout the day, and continues into the late evening when he retires to the White House’s private residence.
“Once he goes upstairs, there’s no managing him,” one White House aide told the Post.
Trump routinely watches a host of cable news networks, starting his mornings off with CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Fox Business Network’s “Mornings With Maria” which is hosted by Maria Bartiromo, and Fox News’s “Fox and Friends.” Trump has repeatedly praised “Fox and Friends” for its favourable coverage towards him, while blasting networks like MSNBC and CNN for their more critical coverage of his administration and policies. He has called the latter “fake news” on a number of occasions, both in public and on Twitter.
At night, the report said, the president occasionally “hate-watches” cable news shows that are critical of him, sometimes talking on the phone with friends while doing so. Shows and journalists that Trump has frequently lampooned include MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” NBC’s “Nightly News,” and CNN’s Jeff Zeleny and Don Lemon.
Though Trump claimed in a recent interview that he no longer watches MSNBC and CNN, some advisers believe he still tunes in to “Morning Joe” to watch the top of the program. The Post notes that most televisions in the West Wing also almost always have the following four channels airing at all times: CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and Fox Business.
One prominent downside resulting from Trump’s ubiquitous cable news consumption is that the president’s aides are often in damage control mode after he sends out spontaneous tweets moments after watching news segments, particularly those that air on “Fox and Friends.”
One tweet Trump fired off in March said, “122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!”
The tweet appeared to be a direct response to a “Fox and Friends” segment on the subject that aired half an hour earlier.
Trump has also done complete reversals on key campaign stances based on what he last saw on TV.
In the beginning of April, Trump authorised the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles targeting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s infrastructure and airfield following a devastating chemical weapons attack in a northwestern Syrian province thought to be perpetrated by Assad.
Trump’s decision was a swift departure from the noninterventionist “America First” stance he touted throughout the presidential campaign.
When explaining his justification for the military strike, Trump said he had been moved by the horrendous images of Syrians — particularly infants — who had died and been injured from the attack that dominated television broadcasts at the time.
“There are many conversations where it ends: ‘But of course, God knows, he could watch Fox News tomorrow and change his whole position,'” Rick Wilson, a Republican consultant and frequent Trump critic, told the Post. “They don’t get him, because he’s a creature of television and they’re creatures of politics. They care about the details, he cares about what’s on TV.”