- REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House aides often rely on the president’s voracious appetite for news to push certain policy agendas, according to a Politico report published Monday.
The president frequently peruses cable news, praising shows that favor him, like Fox News’ “Fox and Friends,” and blasting channels that are more critical of him, like MSNBC and CNN.
Trump also routinely reads print publications like The New York Times, The Washington Post, the New York Post, and The Wall Street Journal.
Aides aware of his habits sometimes slip him news stories in an effort to advance their policy agendas or “gain an edge in the seemingly endless ‘Game of Thrones’ inside the West Wing,” the Politico report said, alluding to the frequent infighting among top White House staffers such as Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law.
But the constant stream of input from “both official and unofficial channels” can lead to consequences.
Recently, according to Politico, Deputy National Security Adviser KT McFarland gave Trump printouts of two Time magazine covers – one from the 1970s that warned of a coming ice age, and one from 2008 about surviving global warming.
Although Trump was quickly incensed by what he saw as the media’s dishonesty, the 1970s cover was apparently fake – a longtime internet hoax.
McFarland did not respond to Politico’s requests for comment, but a White House official familiar with the matter told Politico her move was a mistake that was “fake but accurate.”
“While the specific cover is fake, it is true there was a period in the ’70s when people were predicting an ice age,” the official said. “The broader point I think was accurate.”
- Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
In this case, the report said, West Wing staff intervened before Trump made any public statements about the topic, as he has frequently done after becoming frustrated with media coverage.
The Time cover wasn’t the only hoax placed in front of Trump recently.
According to Politico, in February, someone gave him an article from GotNews.com, which is run by Charles Johnson, a far-right personality who was barred from Twitter after multiple complaints of harassment were made against him. The article said Katie Walsh, the deputy chief of staff, was “the source behind a bunch of leaks” from the White House, and Trump started asking his staff about Walsh, according to Politico.
“I can tell you unequivocally that the story was shared all around the White House,” Johnson, who said he tracks the IP addresses of visitors to his website, told Politico. Walsh has left the White House to advise a pro-Trump group.