By now you’re probably aware of the special relationship between the president and his programs. But in this new Washington Post article, Ashley Parker and Robert Costa delve deeper into Trump’s TV-watching habits, and the result is predictably insane. At 70, America’s oldest president isn’t giving up his habits anytime soon, including regular visits to his vacation home in Florida, playing presumably around twelve thousand rounds of golf per week, and watching cable news all day, every day. Here are five of the nuttiest, and most telling, things we learned about our fearless leader’s love of TV.
1. Trump won’t fire Sean Spicer because “That guy gets great ratings.”
You might have noticed that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is, uh, how do I put this delicately, fucking terrible at his job. Trump may have been upset when Melissa McCarthy brilliantly lampooned Spicer on SNL, but he knows the value of good ratings better than anyone. Spicer’s not going anywhere, Trump reportedly said in a “working lunch” at the White House, likening his ratings to that of a daytime soap. “Everyone tunes in.”
2. Foreign leaders and U.S. lawmakers alike have figured out the best way to get the president’s attention: Appear on TV.
Some White House officials have taken to starting their day with Fox & Friends — which Trump watches every morning — to get an idea of what might be on the president’s mind. And both foreign diplomats and U.S. lawmakers have figured out that the best way to get Trump’s attention is to show up on a TV program that, chances are, he’s watching. U.S. representatives consider a TV appearance as good as a visit to the Oval Office (!), and foreign leaders are urged to go on TV while they’re stateside to similarly catch the president’s eye/ear. In January, Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings went on Morning Joe and addressed the camera directly, asking Trump to call him. A couple days later, he did.
3. For Trump, appearances are very important — especially when you’re on TV.
This may come as a shock, so make sure you’re sitting down: Trump is very critical of people’s outward appearances, especially when they’re on TV. After Sean Spicer’s disastrous first televised press conference, Trump demanded he find a better-fitting suit; he’ll often chat about this or that staffer’s TV appearance with aides, emphasizing the way he or she looked on camera. And that extends to a person’s demeanor, as well: Kellyanne Conway told Parker and Costa that Trump “appreciates when you don’t look like people are bothering you or getting the best of you.” Oh, Kellyanne, that explains so much.
4. He hate-watches news programs that are critical of him.
Presidents: They’re just like everyone else! They don’t get enough sleep, they don’t always eat right, and they can’t resist a little hate-watching. Except when you’re President Trump, you’re hate-watching yourself. According to Parker and Costa, Trump will sometimes watch cable news shows that are more critical of him late at night, while chatting on the phone to friends. Who knew the president had so much in common with your mom?
5. His TV obsession began in earnest after The Apprentice premiered in 2004.
CNN president Jeff Zucker infamously gave candidate Trump hours upon hours of free ad time by airing uncut footage of his rallies throughout the campaign. But Zucker had already created a monster when he signed a deal with Donald Trump to host The Apprentice in 2004, when Zucker was president of NBC Entertainment. The reality show didn’t just make Trump a household name; it also stoked his desire for ratings supremacy, which he began to boast about and fret over “much as he now handles political polls.”