Our president is a Fox News Grandpa, which continues to be an intriguing choice for the most powerful country in the history of the world. Donald Trump is a low-information voter who we made the president. He learns about things through the television, which some reports hold he watches for four to eight hours every day. He often does not read written intelligence briefings, and the stories of how those tasked with briefing him orally have tried to hold his attention and get information across can be comically horrifying. Why listen to reports on the world when your friends in the teevee can tell you exactly what you want to hear? Plus, they might put your tweets up on the screen!
Believe it or not, even when I’m in Washington or New York, I do not watch much television. People that don’t know me, they like to say I watch television—people with fake sources. You know, fake reporters, fake sources. But I don’t get to watch much television. Primarily because of documents. I’m reading documents. A lot.
Even disregarding the merits of the argument, the fact that Trump is tweeting at Fox anchors on a first-name basis, imploring them to back his manically delivered argument on the Tweet Machine, should again be cause for concern. But nobody even seems to bat an eye anymore. Nothing to see here, folks. That's just the president. It's not unlike Trump's ChopperTalk at the end of last month, where he stalked around the reporters' scrum calling Robert Mueller's team of investigators "some of the worst human beings on Earth" and ranting about "Article II." That was just a Thursday in America.
No matter that Trump once again hinted here at a Secret Deal with Mexico after he threatened escalating tariffs against our southern neighbors if they did not block more migrants and asylum-seekers from making their way to the border from Central America. This came not long after we finally renegotiated the NAFTA agreement with Canada and Mexico, with a few modest changes the president and his allies heralded as revolutionary. Trump's threat to re-escalate trade tensions was coldly received by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, whose head of international affairs, Myron Brilliant, went on CNBC to argue against it all. The American president responded to this by calling into the same CNBC show almost immediately after, declaring "tariffs are a beautiful thing when you're the piggybank," because all battles must be fought through the television.
(In fairness, Trump made a good point about the Chamber caring more about its members than the country, a staple of American big business in our new gilded age.)
Soon after Trump announced the Secret Deal had been made so artfully, Mexico's foreign minister denied it really existed. It appears Mexico had already agreed to many of the terms before Trump made and backed away from the tariff threat. No matter: there was an entire praise cycle for President Tariff Man last night on the Fox Business show hosted by Lou Dobbs, the fashy Benjamin Button. The American president then...directly shared clips from the show. Thus persists the all-consuming feedback loop, where Fake News—a label which the president now regularly admits includes any negative coverage—cannot penetrate. It's only Real News here, folks, and it's all positive. It honestly doesn't matter what you do!
Nobody ever illustrated our national state of affairs better than Bendikt Kaltenborn in The New Yorker.
For this week’s issue of @newyorkermag I’ve made a drawing of Trump watching his favourite morning show @foxandfriends . I couldn’t resist connecting the show’s prominent “curvy couch” with the oval office. The illustration is accompagnying a great and funny article by Andrew Marantz. #trump #foxandfriends #illustration #illustrasjon #thenewyorker #drawing #potus #editorial #ovaloffice #redaksjonell
A post shared by Bendik Kaltenborn (@benkalt) on Jan 8, 2018 at 7:45am PST
Politics Editor Jack Holmes is the Politics Editor at Esquire.com, where he writes daily and edits the Politics Blog with Charles P Pierce.