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Hold On — Joe Biden Has a TV Hidden in the Oval Office?

Donald Trump will likely go down in history as our most TV-obsessed president. If not for the fame Trump achieved on The Apprentice, he might not have made it to the White House. And once there, he reportedly consumed an appalling amount of television. Long stretches of his day were devoted to “Executive Time,” i.e., tweeting and bingeing cable news. Trump even bragged about how he had upgraded the TV in the presidential dining room off the Oval Office, as Time reported in 2017:

But the thing he wants to show is on the opposite wall, above the fireplace, a new 60-plus-inch flat-screen television that he has cued up with clips from the day’s Senate hearing on Russia. Since at least as far back as Richard Nixon, Presidents have kept televisions in this room, usually small ones, no larger than a bread box, tucked away on a sideboard shelf. That’s not the Trump way.

Yet somehow the president who went as far as hiding a TV in the Oval Office itself wasn’t Trump but his successor, Joe Biden. Politico described Biden’s hidden TV on Thursday:

When people step into the Oval Office, they might notice the five presidential portraits hung over the fireplace or the grandeur of the historic Resolute Desk — but not the little television. That’s the point. The TV monitor sits behind Biden on another desk topped with picture frames, encased in a golden frame itself so as to be inconspicuous. But when there aren’t press cameras or dignitaries in there, the 10 or 12” screen is often turned on — and tuned to CNN.

You can see the blank monitor in a gold frame among various photos on a table behind Biden’s desk in this April 2023 photo.

Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The existence of Biden’s TV was not widely known, and it’s unclear when he installed it. Photographer and filmmaker David Friedman spotted the blank frame last summer and wrote about it on Substack. He noted that Biden actually isn’t the first president to have a TV in the Oval Office. Harry Truman beat him to it, and Lyndon Johnson even had a large curved console installed near his desk that allowed him to watch three sets at once. Recent presidents, such as Trump, have preferred to stash their TVs in rooms just outside the Oval.

Photo: LBJ Presidential Library

Politico suggested that Biden’s daytime TV-watching habit shouldn’t be interpreted as a sign that he’s quiet-quitting the presidency:

While Biden isn’t spending hours in his private dining room glued to a big screen as his predecessor was, several current and former White House officials told me that the president will keep an eye on his secret screen behind his desk and react to coverage during less formal meetings with staff.

But anyone who makes such a Trumpian decorating move should probably think long and hard about whether their TV-viewing habit is getting out of control.

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Hold On — Joe Biden Has a TV Hidden in the Oval Office?