Donald Trump isn’t the first US president who was big on screen before coming to office – Ronald Reagan was a successful actor before arriving in the White House – but it’s safe to say Mr Trump, once a regular cable news and reality TV fixture, is America’s most TV news-obsessed president.
And a forthcoming book from Ohio congressman Jim Jordan confirms just how important television was to Mr Trump, despite the former president’s repeated, transparently false claims he didn’t watch much TV.
In an excerpt of Mr Jordan’s book, Do What You Said You Would Do: Fighting for Freedom in the Swamp, which comes out in November, the Republican representative said he realised not long after Mr Trump took office that TV was one of the best ways to reach him.
“They each understood that every time we were on TV, we weren’t just talking to people in the television audience; we were talking to POTUS,” Mr Jordan says of his staff, according to a selection of the book obtained by Spectrum News. “We didn’t necessarily need to schedule a phone call with the president or try to arrange a meeting. We could talk to him directly through Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC.”
Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump reportedly watched up to seven hours of TV a day, but he claimed he didn’t spend much time in front of the tube.
“I don’t get to watch much television,” he told reporters in 2017. “Primarily because of documents. I’m reading documents. A lot.”
“I don’t watch very much TV. Nobody knows what I do,” he added in 2020. “I work very long hours, actually, very long hours, probably longer than just about anybody. And I think more importantly, I think I work effectively.”
A look at the former president’s now-deleted Twitter account would quickly disprove these claims, as Mr Trump regularly retweeted clips from cable news, and commented so frequently on the coverage of his favourite conservative networks like Fox News and Newsmax he became a sort of politician-media columnist.
Despite this more high-profile venue, it is Donald Trump’s private communications that are now under scrutiny in the congressional investigation into the 6 January riot at the US Capitol. Democratic legislators have subpoenaed a number of top Trump aides, and the investigative committee has suggested at times that Mr Jordan could be one focus of the investigation.
The Ohio congressman admitted to speaking with Mr Trump the day of the riot. He has been unclear about exactly when it occurred, though has denied any involvement in the day’s riot.
After the 6 January committee voted to hold former Trump advisor Steven Bannon in contempt over his refusal to comply with a subpoena request from investigators, Jordan blasted the effort as a “complete assault on Americans’ liberty”.
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