Stories

Trump's "corner man" role with his cable TV defenders

Carolyn Kaster / AP

After this week's Russia revelations, the mood in the West Wing is increasingly grim and paranoid. But President Trump seems to relish being embattled: One friend describes him as "acting like a corner man in a boxing match."

  • This is especially evident in Trump's constant patter about TV, as he praises aides for their combative appearances. He periodically asks about surrogates who have scored points on cable: "Why isn't she my press secretary?"
  • In calls and Oval Office chats with supporters who have been on the tube, Trump gleefully reenacts exchanges with anchors blow by blow, referring to CNN as "Fraud News" even in private conversation.
  • Regardless of what he or his staff say, he hate-watches "Morning Joe" — toggling among MSNBC, "Fox & Friends" and CNN's "New Day".

Be smart: Aides say Trump loves the combat, and just wants respect and deference.

An entertaining example of this phenomenon was captured by Axios' Jonathan Swan (whose reporting informed the above) in a piece about how much Trump loves the recent heated TV appearances by a deputy assistant, Sebastian Gorka (Twitter bio: "Irregular Warfare Strategist"):

"Before Trump left for Paris, ... he was asking West Wing staff, 'Did you see Gorka? So great, I mean really, truly great.' Trump loved ... when Gorka told CNN morning host Alisyn Camerota that more people are interested in cartoons than CNN, and that the network's ratings are lower than 'Nick at Nite.'"