Friday, January 27, 2017

The Fox News Presidency

Does Donald Trump read anything longer than his own tweets? Did he read his own book? He is not a studious man nor a reflective man, and that famous book was the product of a ghost writer. He doesn't read books because he's already, like, very smart. He's told us. 

Trump speaks on impulse and decrees on impulse, based on what someone told him -- a golf buddy, the last person in the office, a TV talking head. Trump is said to consume TV compulsively, especially Fox News and most especially Morning Joe on MSNBC, and he obviously Googles his own name like an addict snorting a line.

Somewhat reassuringly, I think, for the future of the planet, at least some of his closest aides know what they're dealing with and are on nursery duty. Leaks coming out of the White House since Minute One paint a picture of Trump as "a clueless child" (Chris Cillizza). 

I like to think that son-in-law Jared Kushner is one of the leakers. He certainly knows Trump better than anybody, as the golden son-in-law with a fortune of his own. He also knows Trump through the eyes of his wife Ivanka, and she knows her dad. She's surely shared impressions with Kushner, who now sees everything at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Kushner has many press contacts; he was recently himself a newspaper owner. He's powerful, though obviously no match for Steve Bannon (see below). 

Kellyanne Conway must also be a prime leaker. Despite her TV act -- "Get-Your-Fortune-Here! One Dime, Get Positive Words. One Quarter, Get the World!" --  she clearly knows by now what she's dealing with. Trump doesn't always listen to her, with regrettable little media storms to follow. (Bannon, again, is stronger than she.) Trump doesn't read memos, and Conway's office is farther away in the WH than Bannon's, so she's resorted to "the best way to reach him, change his mind or otherwise bend his ear -- through a public airing of grievances." She's done it before, gone on TV and said things guaranteed to get his attention, even if it leads to a greater tantrum, so why wouldn't she be leaking an impression of him as a very bad little boy?
Time and again, the image of Trump pushed by his “aides” is one of a clueless child — someone who acts on impulse, disregarding the better advice of people who know better. We know he needs to be managed or else he will say and do stupid things, the message seems to be. "We're working on it." (Cillizza)
The Inner Trump Child
He is his very own North Korean anchorwoman. He can't stop talking about how wonderful he is, and watching to see how much we love his every antic. How's this for childish:
"On the morning after Donald Trump’s inauguration, acting National Park Service director Michael T. Reynolds received an extraordinary summons: The new president wanted to talk to him.
"In a Saturday phone call, Trump personally ordered Reynolds to produce additional photographs of the previous day’s crowds on the Mall, according to three individuals who have knowledge of the conversation. The president believed that the photos might prove that the media had lied in reporting that attendance had been no better than average." (Karen Tumulty and Juliet Eilperin)
His more devoted followers, who evidently can't tell reality TV from reality, think he's just "being real," "speaking his mind," "saying what he thinks," and the hoariest and emptiest excuse of all, "he's  draining the swamp" (as though a 10-year-old knew the first thing about plumbing). Representative Mark Sanford, Republican of South Carolina (the "Appalachian Trail governor"), said wisely, “I think you can move from 'real' to bizarre if you don’t watch out. And some of what he’s done in tweet-world and others certainly fit that mold.”

Steve Bannon Uber Alles
You can certainly see Bannon's fingerprints all over the CIA speech and the raging press conference that followed. If you couldn't see Bannon's fingerprints before, you could certainly see them after the extraordinary outburst yesterday in which Mr. Trump's chief strategist told the press that he views them as "the opposition party" (not the Democrats, who are feckless non-entities) and warned any media not Fox News that it had better just "keep its mouth shut."

Or else?

Before I forget: Fuck you, Mr. Bannon.

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