In Fear, Bob Woodward’s scalding exposé about the Trump administration, the author writes that the president is so enraptured by his Twitter usage that he has his best tweets printed out so he can study them. (The same type of tweets that so alarmed Trump’s top aides that, by Woodward’s account, they allegedly asked him to tweet by committee.)
“[President Trump] ordered printouts of his recent tweets that had received a high number of likes, 200,000 or more,” the veteran journalist writes in Fear, on sale now. “He studied them to find the common themes in the most successful… The most effective tweets were often the most shocking.”
Calling Twitter his “megaphone to the world,” and a way to “speak directly to the people without any filter,” Trump didn’t care that his tweets weren’t “presidential,” according to the book. On June 29, Woodward writes that Trump tweeted at former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, who co-host MSNBC’s Morning Joe and had morphed from campaign supporters to “regular detractors.”
“I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore),” Trump tweeted. “Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”
White House chief of staff Reince Priebus was less than thrilled. He described Trump as “going bananas” and approached the president, according to Fear.
“I know what you are going to say,” Trump reportedly told Priebus before he could say anything. “It’s not presidential. And guess what? I know it. But I had to do it anyway.”
“Priebus knew not to ask why,” Woodward writes.
“It’s not politically helpful,” director of strategic communications Hope Hicks reportedly told the president. “You can’t just be a loose cannon on Twitter. You’re getting killed by a lot of this stuff. You’re shooting yourself in the foot. You’re making big mistakes.”
She then joined forces with staffers Rob Porter, Gary Cohn, and White House social media director Dan Scavino to create a Twitter committee, Woodward writes.
“They would draft some tweets that they believed Trump would like,” he writes. “If the president had an idea for a tweet, he could write it down or get one of them in and they would vet it. Was it factually accurate? Was it spelled correctly? Did it make sense? Did it serve his needs?”
While Trump said he agreed with the plan, “he ignored most reviews or vetting and did what he wanted.”
Ironically, the president has taken to Twitter to denounce Woodward’s book.
“The Woodward book is a Joke – just another assault against me, in a barrage of assaults, using now disproven unnamed and anonymous sources,” Trump tweeted on Sept. 10. “Many have already come forward to say the quotes by them, like the book, are fiction. Dems can’t stand losing. I’ll write the real book!”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement earlier this month denying the claims made in Woodward’s book.
“This book is nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the President look bad,” reads the statement. “While it is not always pretty, and rare that the press actually covers it, President Trump has broken through the bureaucratic process to deliver unprecedented successes for the American people.”
Despite these White House denials, people are eager to read Woodward’s book. It’s based on hundreds of “deep background” interviews with sources close to the president.
And those sources revealed to Woodward that Twitter isn’t Donald Trump’s only bad habit. In fact, the president often went on Twitter after indulging in another addiction: watching TV.
“The president and the first lady had separate bedrooms in the residence,” writes Woodward. “Trump had a giant TV going much of the time, alone in his bedroom with the clicker, the TiVo and his Twitter account. [Reince] Priebus called the presidential bedroom ‘the devil’s workshop’ and the early mornings and dangerous Sunday nights ‘the witching hour.’”
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In an attempt to quell Trump’s TV-to-Twitter raging, Priebus arranged Trump’s schedule on Sundays so he would return later in the day “when MSNBC and CNN generally turned to softer programming” that wouldn’t upset him, according to the book.
Even ousted White House chief strategist Steve Bannon tried to distract the president from allegedly watching TV six to eight hours a day.
“During Trump’s first six months in the White House, few understood how much media he consumed,” Woodward writes. “It was scary. Trump didn’t show up for work until 11:00 in the morning. Many times he watched six to eight hours of television in a day. Think what your brain would be like if you did that? Bannon asked.”
In the book, Bannon recalls typical Saturdays in February or March at Mar-a-Lago when Trump “got worked up” watching CNN. Melania would be in another room nearby, Woodward writes.
“What are you doing? Why do you do this? Cut this off,” Bannon reportedly claims he told Trump. “It’s not meaningful. Just enjoy yourself.”
Trump typically responded with something like: “You see that? That’s a f—ing lie. Who the f—‘s…”
Bannon would say, according to Fear, “Go play some slap and tickle with Melania.”