Trump 101: What he reads and watches - Axios
Featured

Trump 101: What he reads and watches

Photo Illustration Greg Ruben / Axios

President Trump spends substantial time and energy ridiculing the media. He spends even more time consuming —and obsessing about — it.

Print copies of three newspapers. When Billy Bush was on, "Access Hollywood" every night. TiVo of the morning and evening news shows so he can watch the tops of all of them. Always "60 Minutes." Often "Meet the Press." Lots of New York talk radio.

He's not a book guy: In fact, some advisers say they don't recall seeing him read one or even talking about one beyond his own, "The Art of the Deal." And, as he told us, he's not one for long reports or detailed briefings. One page usually suffices. Bullet points are even better. But he does consume — often in huge doses — lots of traditional media.

"He's an analog guy," one top adviser told us, saying he never sees the boss on a computer or using his phone for anything but calls.

The president's media diet:

  • When Trump was in the tower, he got hard copies of the N.Y. Times and N.Y. Post (which a friend calls "the paper of record for him" — he especially studies Page Six). He "skims The Wall Street Journal," the friend said. No Washington Post, although friends assume he'll add it now. He had started skipping the other New York tab, the Daily News, because he thought it treated him shabbily.
  • Trump knows specific bylines in the papers and when he's interviewed by a reporter, he can recite how the reporter has treated him over the years, even in previous jobs.
  • Before the campaign, his aides subscribed to an electronic clipping service that flagged any mention of his name, then his staff printed out the key articles. He'll scroll through Twitter, but he doesn't surf the web himself.
  • With an allergy to computers and phones, he works the papers. With a black Sharpie in hand, he marks up the Times or other printed stories. When he wants action or response, he scrawls the staffers' names on that paper and either hands the clip to them in person, or has a staffer create a PDF of it — with handwritten commentary — and email it to them. An amazed senior adviser recently pulled out his phone to show us a string of the emailed PDFs, all demanding response. It was like something from the early 90s. Even when he gets worked up enough to tweet, Trump told us in our interview he will often simply dictate it, and let his staff hit "send" on Twitter.
  • Most mornings, Trump flicks on the TV and watches "Morning Joe," often for long periods of time, sometimes interrupted with texts to the hosts or panelists. After the 6 a.m. hour of "Joe," he's often on to "Fox & Friends" by 7 a.m., with a little CNN before or after. He also catches the Sunday shows, especially "Meet the Press." "The shows," as he calls them, often provoke his tweets. The day of our interview with him, all of his tweet topics were discussed during the first two hours of "Morning Joe."
  • "60 Minutes" is usually on his DVR. "He's so old-school that he thinks it's awesome to go on '60 Minutes," a friend said. "He loves being one of Barbara Walters' '10 Most Fascinating People' of the year." Before Trump ran, a staple that he watched every weeknight was Billy Bush's "Access Hollywood." Same with Time Magazine. His office and hotels are full of framed copies of him on the cover.

Why this matters: Trump has been hooked on coverage, especially of himself, since the glory days of the New York tabloids, when he would happily leak details about his affairs and business deals. He can't quit it. So the notion he will surrender the remote, or Twitter, or his grievances with reporters is pure fantasy. Aides talk of giving him "better choices" or jamming his schedule with meetings to keep him away from reading about or watching himself on TV. But this is an addiction he will never kick.

Earlier: Trump 101: What he means by "America first"


Featured

Pittsburgh sours on Uber's driverless car experiment

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Nine months after Uber rolled out its self-driving car trials in Pittsburgh, the relationship is deteriorating, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Self-driving car companies are forming partnerships with cities that will allow them to test their vehicles on their streets. It's a high-risk, high-reward proposition for city leaders.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto told The Washington Post this fall, "Is there going to be an accident in a robot car? Yes there is. But the greater goal is to make our streets safer in the long term. We have to start at some point and we can't wait for regulation to catch up with innovation."

The city's complaints: Uber began charging for rides that were expected to be free; it withdrew support from Pittsburgh's application for a major federal grant to overhaul transportation; and it hasn't hired local workers as it promised.

Uber's response: "Uber is proud to have put Pittsburgh on the self-driving map, an effort that included creating hundreds of tech jobs and investing hundreds of millions of dollars," Uber told the Times in a statement. "We hope to continue to have a positive presence in Pittsburgh by supporting the local economy and community."

Featured

Another U.S. chemicals giant strikes global merger

Huntsman Corp. of Texas and Switzerland's Clariant have agreed to an all-stock merger that would create a specialty chemicals giant valued at around $20 billion (including debt). Clariant shareholders would hold around a 52% stake in the combined company, which is expected to generate $13.2 billion in annual sales and $2.3 billion of EBITDA.

Why it's a big deal: This tie-up is part of a trend of cross-border consolidation in the mega-chemicals space, following the pending deal between Praxair (Connecticut) and Linde (Germany) and PPG Industries (Pittsburgh) attempting to purchase Dutch rival Akzo Nobel. It's also notable for private equity buffs (yes, such people exist), as Huntsman was at the center of what arguably was the most contentious M&A failure failure of the financial crisis era.

Fun fact: "Huntsman... is best known for inventing the clam-shell styrofoam box for McDonald's Big Mac burgers." ― Reuters

Featured

Report: Michael Flynn will plead 5th, decline subpoena

Saul Loeb / Pool Photo via AP

The Associated Press is reporting that Michael Flynn, the former general fired from his National Security Advisor role by President Trump for lying about his contacts with Russians, will decline a subpoena from the Senate Intelligence Committee.

  • The sourcing: "[A] person with direct knowledge of the matter... spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private interactions between Flynn and the committee."
  • Why this was coming: "Legal experts have said Flynn was unlikely to turn over the personal documents without immunity because he would be waiving some of his constitutional protections by doing so. Flynn has previously sought immunity from "unfair prosecution" to cooperate with the committee."

Background on the subpoena, here.

Featured

First-class travel, hotel suites: WHO spending under scrutiny

Raphael Satter / AP

The World Health Organization nearly spent more on travel for its 7,000 staffers in 2016 — $201 million — than its combined programs for AIDS, hepatitis, malaria, tuberculosis, mental health, and substance abuse, which total $213.5 million, per the AP.

  • How it happened: Lax rules surrounding first-class travel and hotel bookings allowed WHO employees to ignore official travel policy. For example, the agency's Ebola head spent nearly $400,000 in West Africa during the crisis, often opting for helicopter travel.
  • Comparisons: Doctors Without Borders spent $43 million on travel for its 37,000 aid workers; UNICEF spent $140 million for its 13,000 staffers.
  • Worth noting: The agency's polio expenditures hit $450 million last year.
Featured

Zuckerberg: I'm not using this trip to run for office

Jeff Chiu / AP

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in a Facebook post Sunday:

"Some of you have asked if this challenge means I'm running for public office. I'm not. I'm doing it to get a broader perspective to make sure we're best serving our community of almost 2 billion people at Facebook and doing the best work to promote equal opportunity at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative."

His learned insight: Zuckerberg said he sees an opportunity for Facebook to connect users beyond people they already know, and is hoping to soon introduce a system that recommends "people you should know," like mentors and people outside of your social circle who can provide "a source of support and inspiration."

Read next: Inside Zuck's real political strategy

Featured

Ford replaces CEO Mark Fields with autonomous driving exec

Carlos Osorio / AP

Ford will announce Monday morning that it is replacing CEO Mark Fields with Jim Hackett, who ran Steelcase furniture for 20 years before joining the car company, reports The New York Times. Hackett most recently headed Ford's autonomous vehicle subsidy, known as Ford Smart Mobility.

Under Fields, who served as CEO for three years, Ford shares dropped 40 percent. He also was criticized by investors and the board for failing to make Ford a competitive player in the development of high-tech vehicles for the future.

Between the lines: The shake-up shows that Ford is shifting its focus to accelerate its self-driving technology. As the NYT points out, Ford has lagged behind other large automakers like General Motors and tech companies like Google, both of which have already begun testing their own autonomous vehicles. Ford is promising it will have a fully operating driverless car on the road by 2021.

Featured

Striking AT&T workers head back to bargaining table

CWA

Over the weekend, AT&T stores were closed in a number of cities — from San Francisco to Boston to D.C. — when 40,000 workers walked off the job on Friday after the company failed to reach an agreement with the Communications Workers of America union. (AT&T told Fortune the majority of stores stayed open.)

In Oregon, Sen. Jeff. Merkley joined the picket line with workers. In New York City, Mayor Bill DeBlasio signaled support on Twitter.

Why it matters: It's the first labor strike AT&T has faced since 2012. AT&T is the largest U.S. telecom company, and the only one with a major union presence in its wireless business — the fastest growing part of the company. As a result, AT&T is having to contend with the pressures of competing with nonunion rivals in the increasingly competitive wireless sector, a company spokesman told the NYT.

At issue: CWA says AT&T has cut 12,000 U.S. call center jobs while moving jobs overseas, and has shifted jobs from company-owned retail stories to third-party reseller chains. Workers are also frustrated about rising healthcare costs and changes to commission rates. AT&T, for its part, says it's offering fair wage and pension increases and healthcare benefits. "Our employees are returning to work, and we remain committed to reaching fair agreements in these contracts," a spokesperson said.

What's next: In an email to members Sunday evening, CWA rep Dennis Trainor said the union will be back at the bargaining table Monday: "We stood up not only for ourselves and for our families, but for all working Americans who are sick and tired of being taken advantage of by greedy corporations. This fight is even bigger than AT&T. Let's congratulate ourselves for a job well done and walk into work tomorrow very proud."

Updated to include AT&T statement.

Featured

Tech adoption skyrockets among older adults

Over 40% of American adults ages 65+ own a smartphone, more than double the amount since 2013, according to the latest survey from Pew Research Center. At the same time, more than two-thirds of seniors use the internet — a 55% increase from 2000. And for the first time, half of seniors have broadband at home.

Reproduced from 'Tech Adoption Climbs Among Older Adults' Pew Report

Why it matters: Despite these milestones, seniors still report feeling disconnected from the internet and digital culture. The study also found that roughly one-third of older internet users say they have little to no confidence in their ability to use electronic devices to perform online tasks, and roughly half of seniors say they usually need someone else to set up a new electronic device for them or show them how to use it. As more aspects of daily life become dependent on technology, particularly health care, senior adoption of new technologies will become increasingly important.

Other takeaways: The study also found that broadband access was dependent on household income and education levels. It's important to note that tech adoption among seniors is happening as the average population of seniors is on the rise in the U.S. Today, people ages 65+ account for 15% of the overall U.S. population and that number is expected to jump to 22% by 2050, according to U.S. Census Bureau projections.

Featured

Why it's a great time to be a telecom company again

Lazaro Gamio / Axios


A busy season of regulation-slashing in Washington has big upside for a major industry: phone & cable companies.

For the past eight years, tech firms like Google, Facebook, Netflix and Amazon have been seen as having a leg up in Washington over the phone and cable companies that run the nation's broadband networks. But that's changing under the Trump administration. The country's biggest telecom providers — Comcast, Charter Communications, AT&T and Verizon — have already racked up some major policy victories.

Why it matters: The shift is indicative of the types of companies the Trump administration sees as being crucial to the economy, and it's no secret there's no love lost between Trump and Silicon Valley. It also reflects a de-regulatory approach that generally squares less with the popular online platforms than with the physical pipes that deliver them.

A few reasons why the telecom industry is well positioned these days:

  • While tech companies mostly have employees on the coasts, telecom companies like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Charter Communications are important employers throughout the country.
  • The telecom industry is typically aligned with Republican politics while tech companies are liberal-leaning — one factor that helped them cozy up to the Obama administration.
  • Trump has an affinity for traditional jobs, like manufacturing. Although telcos don't run factories, they employ hundreds of thousands of workers to run fiber and cable lines and install wireless equipment — therefore supporting a segment of Americans who feel left behind by the high-tech industry.
What's happened so far:
  • Net neutrality reversal: The most obvious win for telecom companies is the FCC's proposal to undo Obama-era net neutrality rules that subject broadband internet service providers to more regulation. The telecom industry has repeatedly sued the FCC over this topic during the past decade. Chairman Ajit Pai last week cleared the first hurdle in the process to dismantle the rules, a move the tech companies oppose.
  • Privacy rules rollback: Congress killed the FCC's privacy rules that would have forced ISPs to get their customers' permission before sharing or selling their personal details to third parties like advertisers. That means ISPs can better compete against the likes of data-giants Google and Facebook in the growing online advertising market.
  • Infrastructure: Telecom providers are hoping a hefty slice of Trump's infrastructure package will spur broadband network buildout — a very capital-intensive effort — to fill in coverage gaps around the country.
  • Zero-Rating: Pai rescinded a report slamming some so-called "zero-rating" offerings, giving the providers the green light to offer their free data programs.
  • Business lines: The FCC made reforms to the $45 billion special access market — which governs access to the large-capacity data lines going to big businesses and banks — that favor companies like AT&T, Verizon, Frontier and CenturyLink.
  • Curtailing conditions: The agency eliminated a condition attached to the merger of Charter and Time Warner Cable, so Charter no longer has to "overbuild" its broadband network to certain areas where broadband service already exists.
  • Mergers: Despite Trump's populist bent, Wall Street and telecom CEOs see the new administration as more open to industry consolidation, opening the door to potential combinations like Sprint andT-Mobile, or even the rumored marriage of Charter and Verizon. Meanwhile, there's growing pressure to reign in the power of data behemoths like Google, Facebook and Amazon.
At the White House: Under the Obama administration, the Office of Science and Technology Policy was led by Silicon Valley techies such as former Googler Megan Smith and former Twitter general counsel Alex Macgillivary. Today, that office remains largely unstaffed.

The other side: Generally speaking, the administration's early days haven't been terrible for the tech industry, despite the ugly fight over net neutrality. Trump and Pai have both met with Silicon Valley companies. And web companies stand to benefit if efforts to expand broadband to unserved areas are successful — more people hooked up to high-speed broadband means potential new users for their services.

Featured

Medicaid cost increases by state, under the AHCA

The House health care bill would require many states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to pay much more for their newly eligible enrollees beginning in 2020. Here's what it would look like, based on projections from Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy's office:

Data: Government Accountability Office data analyzed by Sen. Bill Cassidy's office; Table: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Why states would have to spend so much more:

  • For newly eligible people who sign up before 2020, the federal government will keep paying for 90 percent of their costs — the higher matching rate under the Affordable Care Act.
  • But if they sign up starting in 2020, they only get the state's regular matching rate. In California, for example, this is 50 percent.
  • So the state goes from paying 10 percent of that person's costs under the ACA to paying 50 percent of his or her costs.
  • Massachusetts, Vermont and Montana also expanded Medicaid, but they've been left off of this list. Massachusetts and Vermont already had generous state Medicaid laws, so the ACA treated them differently. Montana expanded late, so data was unavailable.
  • These projections are based on 2016 spending. They don't account for variables like changes in the population or increased medical spending.