Now that he’s in the White House, friends and aides describe a president who still consumes a steady diet of cable news.
Sometimes, at night, he hate-watches cable shows critical of him, while chatting on the phone with friends, said someone familiar with the president’s routine — a quirk a senior official jokingly called “multi-teching.” In the morning, the president typically flips between “Fox & Friends,” Maria Bartiromo’s show on Fox Business and CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” West Wing aides assert that the president stopped watching MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” after the show’s hosts grew increasingly critical of his presidency, but some confidants think he still tunes in, especially for the top of the program.
His feelings toward CNN and its president, Jeff Zucker, who greenlighted “The Apprentice” when he was running NBC Entertainment, are similarly fraught.
“For all the talk about how the media is so tough on Trump, which they are, the most interesting thing about Trump and the media is that in the end, Trump totally manipulated the media,” said Stephen Moore, an economist for the Heritage Foundation who served as a senior adviser to the Trump campaign.
“The media is why he won — because he completely dominated the media.
The president, advisers said, also uses details gleaned from cable news as a starting point for policy discussions or a request for more information, and appears on TV himself when he wants to appeal directly to the public.
Some White House officials — who early on would appear on TV to emphasize points to their boss, who was likely to be watching just steps away in his residence — have started tuning into Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” because they know the president habitually clicks it on after waking near dawn.
That’s the irony of the whole thing.” West Wing staffers have begun including local news clippings in his morning briefing, said one, noting that an issue such as rolling back environmental regulations may earn the president poor press nationally but a more positive headline — “Trump saves coal jobs,” for example — in a local paper.
But Trump — who has boasted to several advisers and friends about having “the world’s best Ti Vo” — remains most focused on what he sees on his flat screens, going so far as to compliment print reporters on their television appearances. When Spicer did his first briefing-room appearance in an ill-fitting gray pinstripe suit, the president made his displeasure known, and Spicer returned the next week more crisply attired.
Foreign diplomats have urged their governments’ leaders to appear on television when they’re stateside as a means of making their case to Trump, and U. lawmakers regard a TV appearance as nearly on par with an Oval Office meeting in terms of showcasing their standing or viewpoints to the president.