For more than ten years now, I've been writing about the failures of the mainstream media to do their jobs and how it was hurting democracy.
The proof of that hypothesis is now sitting in the White House.
Donald Trump is not a smart man. He is, however, a big consumer of partisan news. Apparently, his attention span is such that he prefers delicate and nuanced intelligence to be presented to him in easily digestible bullets on a single page. He would rather spend hours watching (and tweeting his commentary to) punditry-disguised-as-cable-news and printouts from right wing blogs and you have a recipe for a complete lack of understanding of the events of the day. Trump either cannot or will not use critical thinking skills to test his cognitive biases.
So as Washington Post reporter Robert Costa tells Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, he "reviews news organizations information sometimes even more than intelligence information."
So he trusts Breitbart and Mark Levin over his presidential daily briefings.
He'd rather listen to Andrew Napolitano than James Comey.
He relies on Alex Jones over the CIA, NHS, FBI, and any number of intel agencies.
Chew on that for a while.
This is the same argument we've made here on C&L for years: watching cable news does not inform people of actual facts. In fact, the most informed news consumers are those who listen to NPR. It's no surprise that cutting funding to public broadcasting is one of Trump's first acts. Can't have Americans realizing how ill-informed the president is, amirite?
And while Trump may be a proud, preening example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, his willful ignorance has an impact on democracy itself, if not the entire globe.
Setting aside for a moment the horrifying prospect of how this polemic and untethered-to-reality commentary finds its way to our foreign policy, how can the presidency itself be sustainable when the occupant picks fights with EVERY institution of this country? If he spends all his time praising Putin but hating on the media, the military officers corps, every level of the public service bureaucracy, the foreign service, the intelligence community, the leadership of the many key companies and industries he’s trashed on Twitter, and a growing list of our allies abroad, how does he--and WE--survive that? How soon will it be before all of these agencies start fighting back?