President Trump. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

President Trump is “frustrated” by the monstrous job of running the federal government and often changes the subject when discussions descend into the nitty-gritty of official actions, reports Politico. This difficulty with complexity and detail also surfaces in his favorite pastime, which is criticizing the media for no good reason. It appears that Trump has little understanding of how a major national newspaper uses technology to stay abreast of breaking news stories. Have a look:

How ill-informed is that tweet? Pretty darned. The president appears to be referring to this New York Times story: “Trump Tells Xi Jinping U.S. Will Honor ‘One China’ Policy.” Asked to comment on the Trump tweet, Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for the newspaper, breaks things down this way:

Here is the chronology:
The original story published at 9:03 last night.
The story was updated at 11:35 after the White House read out on the call came at 11:04PM.
The first national edition (delivered in DC) went to print prior to the update and there was not a second national edition last night because of the snow storm.
The city editions (in NY) did have the updated story.
And the updated story has obviously been online since 11:35 last night.

Which is to say that the updated version of the story was online for about nine hours before Trump tweeted another broadside at the newspaper. Perhaps Trump’s tweet is based on the hard-copy version that he may have seen in D.C.

Such a scenario merges with what we know of Trump’s media-consumption habits. Though he’s clearly a prolific tweeter, his “daily routine has long begun by reading print newspapers — usually The New York Times and New York Post — and watching TV news shows, rather than reading articles online,” noted CNN.

The updated version of the story puts all the events in perspective. In December, Trump, following a much-discussed phone call with the president of Taiwan, questioned why the United States would be “bound” by the “one China” policy that this country has pursued for decades — i.e., maintaining “formal ties with China rather than the island of Taiwan, which China sees as a breakaway province to be reunified with the mainland one day,” as explained by the BBC. Thursday’s call signaled that Trump wouldn’t, in fact, part with the approach of his predecessors.

Yes, the attack on the New York Times via Twitter could be a tactic deflection and distraction: Focus on the media, again, instead of the fact that Trump, who’s always harrumphing about his leadership and negotiating skills, had failed to deliver on tough China talk during the transition period. If so, it’s a strategy that 1) further diminishes public trust in the media; and 2) showcases the media illiteracy of the president. Mark Landler, one of the reporters of the story, tweeted:

Just minutes before his New York Times blast, Trump tweeted this excerpt from a Lawfare posting that had been featured earlier on the MSNBC program “Morning Joe”:

That Lawfare piece actually supported the “disgraceful decision.” As The Post’s Marc Fisher noted months ago, “Donald Trump doesn’t read much. Being president probably wouldn’t change that.”



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