If the Trump presidency reminds you of a Monty Python sketch, you may be closer than you realize. Reports surfaced this week that White House staffers have added “bright side of life” to their job descriptions, delivering President Trump a twice-daily folder that only contains positive images and stories about himself.
At 9:30am and 4:30pm, the president is handed 20- to 25-page packets full of “screenshots of positive cable news graphics, admiring tweets, transcripts of fawning TV interviews, praise-filled news stories, and sometimes just pictures of Trump on TV looking powerful,” reports Vice News.
The press office refers to it as “the propaganda document,” and recently departed press secretary Sean Spicer and recently fired chief of staff Reince Priebus competed for who would get the chance to deliver it to the president.
The ritual began after the White House communications staff was told their deliverables to the president need “to be more f-cking positive.”
The packets are assembled in the Republican National Committee’s “war room,” a group of 10 people that monitor TV news, social media, print media and online reporting to gauge how the president is being portrayed. Beginning at 6am, three staff members start sending clips and screenshots to the White House Communications office, which then curate the clips, send positive headlines to journalists and prepare the propaganda document.
“Maybe it’s good for the country that the president is in a good mood in the morning,” said one former RNC official.
But briefing the president on only positive news struck former White House officials as weird. “If we had prepared such a digest for Obama, he would have roared with laughter,” said David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to Barack Obama. “His was a reality-based presidency.”
Spicer disputed Vice News’s characterization of the folder. “While I won’t comment on materials we share with the president, this is not accurate on several levels,” he told them in email. When asked to elaborate, he did not respond.
This report comes a week after Trump launched a “real news” video series on his Facebook page. Delivered by his daughter-in-law Lara Trump, the first edition covered stories such as the president donating his salary, the construction of a new Foxconn manufacturing plant in Wisconsin and the economic growth rate, while saying nothing about the week’s White House staffing turmoil, including the departure of chief of staff Reince Priebus and new communications director Anthony Scaramucci; the failure of the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare; and the president’s tweets announcing he would ban transgender people from serving in the military.