A New York Times piece published Saturday delivers a blow-by-blow guide to President Trump’s strange and unnerving daily routine. “For Mr. Trump, every day is an hour-by-hour battle for self-preservation,” the Times writes. It is a battle fueled by resentment, Diet Coke (Trump apparently drinks 12 per day), and, above all, an ungodly amount of television news.
A lot has been written about the 45th president’s addiction to TV, which, like most everything about Trump, stands in stark contrast to his predecessor, who famously shunned the 24-hour news cycle. But the Times paints the clearest picture yet of how, exactly, he consumes the poisonous miasma of cable news, and the details are predictably jarring. Here are the five most worrying:
1) Trump watches four-to-eight hours of television a day.
True, this puts him squarely in the category of average, screen-addicted American — screen time, plus his remarkably high-cholesterol diet, may be the most populist thing about him. But most of us aren’t juggling the demands of being what was once known as “the leader of the free world.” Then again, a constantly distracted Trump may be preferable to the alternative.
2) Trump’s mood can rise and fall based on morning shows.
It has long been clear that Fox and Friends, the headquarters for inane pro-Trump babble, is a primary driver of Trump’s tweets. (The Times reports that “aides monitor ‘Fox & Friends’ live or through a transcription service in much the way commodities traders might keep tabs on market futures to predict the direction of their day.”) But sometimes, Trump starts his day off with CNN or MSNBC, saving Fox’s daily Trump affirmations for later, via his presidential “super TiVo.” If he doesn’t wake up with a healthy dose of Fox propaganda, Trump is “likely to be in a foul mood,” which, in our delightful reality, makes the odds of nuclear armageddon tick upward by about 0.8 percent.
3) Trump only likes news about Trump.
One former top adviser said Mr. Trump grew uncomfortable after two or three days of peace and could not handle watching the news without seeing himself on it,” the Times reports. It’s news to nobody that for Trump, attention is the be-all and end-all of human existence; the worst fate isn’t unpopularity or rejection, but irrelevance. The presidency likes the news because he is the news.
4) Trump sees his presidency as a TV show.
“Before taking office,” the article reports, “Mr. Trump told top aides to think of each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals.” This is in keeping with Trump’s vision of life as an eternal revenge plot against those who have deigned to underestimate him. Part of what makes Trump so dangerous is his insistence on creating a foe at every turn to sustain that narrative.
5) Trump is president of the United States.
Okay, this one’s not exactly new. But it should never stop being a shock that the leader of the country is an addled couch potato whose addiction to his own image supersedes any intellectual curiosity or empathy.