It's well documented that President Trump doesn't have the patience to absorb a great deal of information, preferring Fox News to policy briefings and 140 characters to careful strategy on highly flammable North Korea. So it follows that the president's briefing book now largely comprises screenshots of cable-news graphics.
According to a new Axios report, one of Trump's main complaints about recently departed national-security adviser H.R. McMaster was that he presented complicated world issues as complicated — “a PowerPoint deck dozens of pages long, filled with text” instead of “simple, short bullets, or a graphic or timeline.” In other words, "He used complete sentences!" as an aide told the site. White House aides have become desperate to get the president to absorb even simple information about world affairs, and as such have edited down his briefing book to "basically slogans."
Says Mike Allen at Axios: "'The Book' typically includes briefing sheets about events the president will attend the next day; his schedule for the day, week and month ahead; and a sheaf of policy papers. Separately, the press and communications staffs assemble clippings — often positive, to contrast the bad news he may be seeing on cable news. If he reads something in the press, like if he sees it on TV, that grabs his attention,” said a source close to the president. The packet can even include screen grabs of cable news chyrons." (Those lower-third graphics and headlines you see on CNN, Fox News, et. al.)
This follows an August 2017 report that the White House press office gives Trump a folder of positive news about himself twice a day, including screenshots of those ego-reinforcing news graphics — and on days when there aren't enough positive chyrons, flattering photos of him.
But there are signs that when it comes to his North Korean summit next week, Trump has shunned even this Little Golden Book version of the Cliff's Notes of typical presidential preparation. "I think I'm very well-prepared," Trump told reporters during a photo op with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday. "I don't think I have to prepare very much. It's about attitude. It's about willingness to get things done."
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Trump has been getting "near-daily" briefings and is getting "all the information he needs."
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