The man watches TV all day long
How is it that the most powerful job in the world allows for this much TV watching? He watches more than I do and I'm a political blogger who does that for a living.
After watching Sean Hannity on Fox News, President Trump tweeted at Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate former rival Hillary Clinton. After listening to Tucker Carlson, he directed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to launch a study on bogus reports of murdered white farmers in South Africa.
And after Fox Business Network’s Lou Dobbs highlighted a questionable claim about Google search results, Trump took to Twitter early Tuesday to complain — prompting his top economic adviser to promise an investigation.
“We’re taking a look at it,” Larry Kudlow told reporters when asked whether the administration thinks Google searches should be regulated.
Cable television news hosts and commentators are among the first voices that Trump hears in the morning and the last he listens to at night. Now he is increasingly relying on those voices in making decisions — often running afoul of his actual advisers in the process.
Many of Trump’s Cabinet secretaries and senior advisers have a cable news shadow. Dobbs might be considered Trump’s television treasury secretary, Hannity his chief of staff and Carlson his secretary of state. Fox’s Jeanine Pirro serves as a de facto attorney general, railing against Sessions and the special counsel’s Russia probe, while regular Fox analyst Pete Hegseth was under consideration to be the actual secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Carlson said in an interview with The Washington Post that he doesn’t think about whether the president is watching his Fox show, “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” and that he was “really surprised” by Trump’s response to last week’s episode on white South African farmers.
President Trump speaks to members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on Aug. 17, 2018. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
“The president tweeted it, and I had nothing to do with it,” Carlson said. “I’m glad he did, because I think the story deserves more attention than it has gotten in this country.”
That Trump reacts so frequently to what he sees on television, rather than what he is reading or being told by aides, underscores the outsize role that commentators and cable programming decisions play in Trump’s administration.
Among his other cable-fueled directives in recent weeks, Trump tweeted disapproval of Federal Reserve interest rate increases that echoed criticism leveled by Dobbs, a vocal Trump supporter. He has repeatedly attacked Sessions and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, citing cable figures such as Fox News Channel’s Gregg Jarrett.
This month, Trump ordered the revocation of John Brennan’s security clearance after the former CIA director said on MSNBC that remarks Trump made at his friendly Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin were “nothing short of treasonous.” The president threatened to do the same to former intelligence officials and CNN analyst Philip Mudd, a former CIA official whose television commentary Trump called “unglued.”
Other presidents have received plenty of advice and ideas from outside the Cabinet Room. Nearly 200 years ago, President Andrew Jackson vexed critics by relying on a “kitchen cabinet” of informal advisers assembled after his purge of officials from the parlor, or official, Cabinet.
President-elect Donald Trump is interviewed by Chris Wallace of “Fox News Sunday” at Trump Tower in New York on Dec. 10, 2016. (Richard Drew/AP)
[From 2016: Donald Trump is holding a government casting call]
Trump’s 21st-century approach, by contrast, uses Twitter and the bully pulpit to amplify cable commentary that would otherwise reach only a small fraction of Americans.
Aides, in turn, try to influence the cable hosts who influence the president.
When Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin led a delegation to China in May, he announced on “Fox News Sunday” that the United States was “putting the trade war on hold.” But soon after, others in the delegation, including China hawk Peter Navarro, found an alternative audience with Dobbs to criticize Mnuchin’s message.
Then Dobbs’s criticisms were picked up on “Fox & Friends” the following day by host Brian Kilmeade. Before long, and on the basis of those media messages, the president made an abrupt change in policy, said an adviser who was not authorized to speak to the news media.
Stuart P. Stevens, a Republican political consultant and writer who was Mitt Romney’s senior strategist in the 2012 presidential election campaign, decried Trump’s reliance on the “insane feedback loop of Fox.”
“Here’s a guy who has access to the most sophisticated intelligence ever available, that cost billions to produce, that people have died for,” Stevens said. “And he’s relying for his information on something you can buy for like $2.98 a month with your cable subscription.”
One major risk for Trump is bad information — as illustrated in the recent flaps over South Africa and Google.
Yeah, I'd say so. But he can't trust he Us Intelligence Community or the FBI. Only Fox and Friends, Sean, Tucker, Laura, Jeanine and Lou know what's really going on.
Last night he was tweeting some nonsense about the Chinese hacking into Hillary Clinton's email server and demanding that the FBI and the DOJ go after her. It was based on a Daily Caller article that "reports" something nobody else has reported based on some wild charges from from Louis Gohmert months ago:
It's pathetic and lame but we can't forget that the president of the United States is the most powerful man on earth.