President Trump is possessed with the media—consuming it, reacting to it and being portrayed positively by it. That obsession is not just egotism but, as recent reports shows has an overpowering fixation on it. The word “addiction” is not being used here literally, but when reading about his consumption of the media habits, it can be difficult to think of a word that is a fitting substitute.
WHAT HE CONSUMES
“Print copies of three newspapers,” wrote Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei of Axios in an article describing the president’s media habits on Tuesday. “When Billy Bush was on, ‘Access Hollywood’ every night. TiVo of the morning and evening news shows so he can watch the tops of all of them. Always ’60 Minutes.’ Often ‘Meet the Press.’ Lots of New York talk radio.”
Allen and VandeHei also reported that Trump doesn’t read books and avoids reports and briefings he considers too lengthy. That doesn’t mean that Trump is hip to advancing technologies, however—he doesn’t use computers and rarely uses his phone for anything but calls. Even his infamous tweets are often dictated and then entered by others. He doesn’t follow online news outlets, instead choosing traditional outlets including newspapers like “The New York Times” and “The New York Post” (which one friend referred to as “the paper of record for him”) and journalistic programs like “60 Minutes.”
He is mainly obsessed with TV.
Most mornings, Trump flicks on the TV and watches ‘Morning Joe,’ often for long periods of time, often interrupted with texts to the hosts or panelists. After the 6 a.m. hour of “Joe,” he often switches to “Fox & Friends” by 7 a.m., with a little CNN before or after. He also catches the Sunday shows, especially “Meet the Press.” “The shows,” as he calls them, often provoke his tweets. The day of their interview with him, all of his tweet topics were discussed during the first two hours of “Morning Joe.”
Indeed, Trump’s emotional dependence on positive TV coverage has led to some of the earliest mistakes of his presidency.
On Saturday, when Trump saw TV networks comparing his own lukewarm inaugural turnout with Obama’s much more impressive showing in 2009, he became so enraged that his advisers were unable to persuade him to overlook the negative coverage or simply respond to it on Twitter, according to The Washington Post on Monday. Instead he ordered Press Secretary Sean Spicer condemn the adverse coverage, and despite widespread criticism that Spicer had crossed the line by unashamedly promoting lies about Trump’s inauguration (or what Kellyanne Conway later referred to as “alternative facts“), Trump’s main complaint was that Spicer had seemed too dependent on a printed statement and had not been sufficiently convincing. He was more pleased with Spicer’s performance on Monday.
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