The New York Times published an extensive story on Pres. Trump and his current mindset 13 months after becoming president-elect, referring to the daily grind as “an hour-by-hour battle for self-preservation.”
Front and center in the story is the president’s love-hate, yet devout relationship with cable news. Maggie Haberman, Peter Baker, and the now-suspended Glenn Thrush, all of whom have bylines on the story, cite people close to Pres. Trump who say he consumes 4-8 hours of cable news per day, “sometimes with the volume muted marinated in the no-holds-barred wars of cable news, eager to strike back.”
Pres. Trump, as one might expect, disputed the reporting on Monday morning:
Another false story, this time in the Failing @nytimes, that I watch 4-8 hours of television a day – Wrong! Also, I seldom, if ever, watch CNN or MSNBC, both of which I consider Fake News. I never watch Don Lemon, who I once called the “dumbest man on television!” Bad Reporting.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2017
Nevertheless, 4 to 8 hours of cable news viewing is perhaps a reasonable number when compared with many Americans and readers of this site, but it’s an unheard-of number compared to what previous presidents reportedly consumed.
And contrary to popular belief, Trump’s cable news diet is diverse.
Around 5:30 each morning, President Trump wakes and tunes into the television in the White House’s master bedroom. He flips to CNN for news, moves to “Fox & Friends” for comfort and messaging ideas, and sometimes watches MSNBC’s Morning Joe because, friends suspect, it fires him up for the day.
Pres. Trump likes to note that he doesn’t watch much television anymore because he is “reading documents a lot.” But per the excerpt below, he isn’t exactly reading those documents all day. And his TV viewing routine is unique.
“No one touches the remote control except Mr. Trump and the technical support staff – at least that’s the rule. During meetings, the 60-inch screen mounted in the dining room may be muted, but Mr. Trump keeps an eye on scrolling headlines. What he missed he checks out later on what he calls his “Super TIVo,” a state-of-the-art system that records cable news.
Watching cable, he shares thoughts with anyone in the room, even the household staff he summons via a button for lunch of for one of the dozen Diet Cokes he consumes each day.”
The story also notes an interesting experience with former Westchester County DA and Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, whose weekend prime time program he seems to watch with regularity.
Jeanine Pirro, whose Fox News show is a presidential favorite, recently asked to meet about a deal approved while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state that gave Russia control over some American uranium, which lately has become a favorite focus of conservatives.
Mr. Trump, Mr. Kelly and Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, met for more than an hour on Nov. 1 as Ms. Pirro whipped up the president against Mr. Mueller and accused James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, of employing tactics typically reserved for Mafia cases, according to a person briefed on the meeting.The president became visibly agitated as she spoke. “Roy Cohn was my lawyer!” he exclaimed, referring to the legendary McCarthy-era fixer who mentored Mr. Trump in the 1980s, suggesting that was the type of defender he needed now.
At another point, Mr. Kelly interrupted. She was not “helping things” he said, according to the person briefed. Even Mr. Trump eventually tired of Ms. Pirro’s screed and walked out of the room, according to the person.”