A New York Times report Saturday detailed President Donald Trump’s complicated relationship with TV news and his heavy consumption of it.
People close to Trump estimate that he spends “at least four hours a day, and sometimes as much as twice that, in front of a television,” sometimes on mute, “marinating in the no-holds-barred wars of cable news and eager to fire back.”
Trump reportedly begins his day around 5:30 each morning tuning into TV in the White House’s master bedroom. He flips to CNN for news, moves to “Fox & Friends” for “comfort and messaging ideas,” and sometimes MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” because it “fires him up for the day.”
Aides also monitor “Fox & Friends” in the morning “the way commodities traders might keep tabs on market futures to predict the direction of their day.” They’ve learned that if Trump does not immediately tweet about “something memorable” on Fox, he may be saving it for later viewing on his “Super TiVo” recorder and instead watch MSNBC or CNN live—both of which put him “in a foul mood to start the day.”
These habits set the stage for how the “ammunition for his Twitter war is television.”
In Trump’s world, “no one touches the remote control” except for himself and the technical support staff. He reportedly “keeps an eye on scrolling headlines” on a 60-inch screen during dining room meetings.
As he watches the news, he “shares thoughts with anyone in the room, even the household staff he summons via a button for lunch or one of the dozen Diet Cokes he consumes each day.”
However, Trump doesn’t like being viewed as someone who watches so much TV that it “reinforces the criticism that he is not taking the job seriously.”
NYT notes that during his recent trip to Asia, Trump was told of a list of 51 fact-checking questions for this article, including one about his “prodigious television watching habits.” Trump then pushed back on the assertion—and slammed the media while at it.
“I know they like to say—people that don’t know me—they like to say I watch television,” Trump said. “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.”
Trump’s constant need to consume TV is reportedly chronic enough that one former top adviser told NYT that he “grew uncomfortable after two or three days of peace and could not handle watching the news without seeing himself on it.”
NYT’s insider look into Trump’s TV news consumption habits comes the same day he railed against CNN and ABC over erroneous reports.