It’s not exactly news that the president doesn’t read. This is an indictment of the country, and of the news media that covers him—which, despite all the yelling about Media Bias, actually cuts this guy a ton of slack. Because he is the president, a lot of people pretend he might actually have a clue what’s going on. Reporters should just start asking him basic factual questions about the matter at hand. “What is contact tracing?” He would have no idea. Right now, we’re continually asking him which road he’s taking when he’s never seen the map. He doesn’t read anything, including his briefing reports. The New Yorker documented the process of trying to deliver information to The Leader of the Free World back in 2017. It wasn’t a pretty picture—but apparently, it required lots of pictures.
We know this, and yet nobody seems to care he gets all his information from the brain-melting hellscape of cable news—and, according to The New York Times, from Gary Player. Allow us to introduce a paragraph—the one in the middle below—that may well document one of the dumbest things in the history of the American presidency.
Mr. Trump, who has mounted a yearslong attack on the intelligence agencies, is particularly difficult to brief on critical national security matters, according to interviews with 10 current and former intelligence officials familiar with his intelligence briefings.
The president veers off on tangents and getting him back on topic is difficult, they said. He has a short attention span and rarely, if ever, reads intelligence reports, relying instead on conservative media and his friends for information. He is unashamed to interrupt intelligence officers and riff based on tips or gossip he hears from the former casino magnate Steve Wynn, the retired golfer Gary Player or Christopher Ruddy, the conservative media executive.
Mr. Trump rarely absorbs information that he disagrees with or that runs counter to his worldview, the officials said. Briefing him has been so great a challenge compared with his predecessors that the intelligence agencies have hired outside consultants to study how better to present information to him.
How is this acceptable? We’ve got some of the country’s best and brightest tiptoeing around the nation’s chief executive, trying not to piss him off with inconvenient reality while simultaneously holding his quantum attention. (The ability to accept bad news ought to be one of the minimum requirements to be the president. You should be able to hear negative information without throwing a tantrum, maybe.) Briefing the current president on critical national security matters is apparently like my parents trying to ask 14-year-old me what happened at school while I was watching MTV. Except I wasn’t the goddamned President of the United States. We had standards back then, and one of them was that the president had to read things. Really setting the bar high in the ’90s.
Also, I’d actually gone to school. We hired this guy to do a job, and during the one or two hours a day he actually does it, he does it terribly. He doesn’t do the reading, and we expect him to produce a book report? He doesn’t know what’s going on. How much death and economic damage could we have avoided during this cataclysm if the president read his briefing reports in January and February? If he was not constantly bringing up what Sean Hannity said last night while people were trying to talk to him? If he did not treat anyone who says nice things about him as a comparable or better source than people who actually know what’s going on in the world? How many of the 93,000 Americans now dead would still be alive if the president did his job?
This is a results business. He should be fired.
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