A New York Times story released this weekend, based on interviews with 60 insiders, offered a stunning new portrait of President Trump as an unprepared commander-in-chief who, rather than luxuriating in his power, is engaged in an “hour-by-hour battle for self-preservation.” It’s sparked a wave of comment on the Web.
Trump himself fired back with a tweet Monday morning, denying what the article said about his TV-watching habits. But that was just one of the many intriguing details in the story.
Here’s 10 things to know from the story:
■ Trump watches at least four hours of television a day, and sometimes as much as eight. Trump on Twitter called those figures “Wrong!” He also disputed the article’s reporting that he sometimes watches CNN and MSNBC, saying he considered both of them “Fake News.” The article reported that he “hate-watches” CNN to get worked up, particularly Don Lemon. Trump on Monday denied watching Lemon, but also noted that he has called Lemon the “dumbest man on television.”
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
■ The 71-year-old Trump drinks a dozen Diet Cokes a day. He gets five or six hours of sleep.
■ Trump remains delighted to see his name in the headlines, even though he may be the most famous person on the planet. And he is on a never-ending quest to see it there.
■ House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi thinks he was totally unprepared for the job. “The bigger problem, the thing people need to understand, is that he was utterly unprepared for this. It would be like you or me going into a room and being asked to perform brain surgery. When you have a lack of knowledge as great as his, it can be bewildering,” she told the Times.
■ Some aides said he has a “tenuous grasp of facts, jack-rabbit attention span and propensity for conspiracy theories.” In almost all its interviews, the Times reported, Trump associates raised questions about his “capacity and willingness to differentiate bad information from something that is true.”
■ Chief of staff John Kelly works 14 hours a day to impose discipline on the chaotic White House, limiting access to Trump. Kelly monitors what information Trump consumes, trying to keep him from seeing “garbage” given to him by outsiders. Kelly reserves the right to listen to calls to the president that come through the White House switchboard. If Kelly cannot listen in, he or an aide will check back with the callers to find out if the president made any promises in “unguarded moments.”
■ Trump craves the approval of Kelly, calling him up to a dozen times a day. Aides denied that he seeks Kelly’s blessing, but confirmed that Trump sees Kelly as a “crucial confidant and sounding board,” the Times reported.
■ Trump is an avid reader of newspapers, but former adviser Stephen Bannon has told people he only “reads to reinforce.”
■ Trump has expressed frustration at the departure of long-time security chief Keith Schiller, saying his Oval Office suite now seems “empty.”
■ Before he took office, Trump told top aides they should think of each presidential day as an episode in a TV show in which he “vanquishes rivals,” the newspaper reported.