Donald Trump is addicted to TV, allowing right-wing propaganda networks to guide his worldview and dangerously shape White House policy.
Donald Trump spends up to 8 hours a day watching television instead of being engaged in the important minute-by-minute details of leading the United States, according to administration insiders who spoke to the New York Times.
A new profile of Trump and his daily habits depicts a disturbing portrait of a man who is unhealthily obsessed with watching television, and who allows the oddball obsessions of cable news to influence his rhetoric and decision making.
Trump became a well-known figure thanks to his role in the manufactured drama of reality TV on “The Apprentice.” He then parlayed that notoriety into a regular role on Fox News, where he endlessly attacked President Barack Obama and used the platform to promote absurd conspiracy theories.
Now in the White House, Trump still has apparently not shaken this TV-addict mindset, to the detriment of the United States and the world.
The Times relays that “people close” to Trump say he “spends at least four hours a day, and sometimes as much as twice that, in front of a television.”
Trump reportedly told his top aides that he expects them to see every day he holds office as an episode in a TV show where “he vanquishes rivals.”
He watches the noxiously right-wing “Fox & Friends,” where crackpot conspiracies flow like water, for “comfort and messaging ideas.”
It was his compulsive TV watching that reportedly worked him up into a lather, prompting tweets criticizing Hillary Clinton and the FBI that “several advisers told him were problematic and needed to stop.”
The tweets, where he described the crimefighting agency as having a reputation in “tatters,” were directly rebuked by FBI Director Christopher Wray who stood up for what he described as the “tens of thousands of brave men and women” working for the bureau.
Previous reports have shown that Trump has been compelled to clear his entire presidential schedule, so that he can live off taxpayer-financed resources and watch TV all day long.
During meetings, where Trump is being trusted to engage on matters of life and death all around the world, he is keeping an eye on scrolling TV news headlines and has issued an edict that “no one touches the remote control” except for him.
He even reportedly records cable news programming and watches it on his device he has nicknamed “Super TiVo.”
Laughably, when Trump spoke to the press while visiting Vietnam, he told them, “I know they like to say — 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.”
He later complained about CNN, an attack which gave aid and comfort to slave traffickers, who smeared a report on the network exposing their illegal trade as “fake news,” an echo of Trump’s anti-free speech smears.
The Times reports that Trump’s devotion to the device some have described as “the idiot box” is so pervasive, that chief of staff John Kelly spends an inordinate amount of time trying to keep Trump away from the bad information on television.
Kelly and others close to Trump appear legitimately worried that Trump is prone to making decisions and actions based not on facts and research and judgment, but based on what he most recently saw on TV.
In one example, Trump recently tasked the head of the CIA with pursuing a half-baked conspiracy theory which claims that the Democratic Party’s servers were not actually hacked in the 2016 election. Where did Trump learn of the conspiracy? By watching his friends on Fox News.
Cable news, particularly on the right, is a cesspool of tabloid imagery and half-truths, where what is “news” is often decided by what is most telegenic and likely to cause controversy and bring in ratings, not what is important.
That Donald Trump seems not only unwilling but unable to apply critical thinking to what he sees on TV is not just an embarrassing characteristic of an unpopular president, but an alarming warning to us all.