He wasn’t kidding. Now, as leader of the free world, he gets up in the morning and, long before receiving his intelligence briefing (if he receives one at all), he flips on cable news and starts tweeting. His comments are in the style of a guy in a La-Z-Boy shouting at the television, except the guy in the La-Z-Boy has 26 million Twitter followers and controls a nuclear arsenal that could destroy the world many times over.
Fox News’ morning show flashes a graphic alleging that 122 released “Gitmo prisoners reengaged in terrorism.” Within an hour, Trump tweets from the White House: “122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!” (As The Washington Post’s Jenna Johnson pointed out, 113 of the 122 were released during the George W. Bush administration.)
A “Fox & Friends” host calls for Trump to block federal funding to universities that try to “silence conservative voices,” after violent protests at the University of California at Berkeley over a speech by conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. Half an hour later, Trump tweets: “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view — NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”
Fox News’ “O’Reilly Factor” cites statistics about crime in Chicago. An hour later, Trump tweets the same statistics: “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!”
Fox News labels Chelsea Manning an “ungrateful traitor” who had called President Barack Obama a “weak leader.” Fourteen minutes later, CNN’s Brian Stelter notes, Trump tweets: “Ungrateful TRAITOR Chelsea Manning, who should never have been released from prison, is now calling President Obama a weak leader. Terrible!”
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson airs a report alleging that Sweden has been trying to “cover up” an outburst of violence caused by Muslim immigrants. The next day, Trump tells a crowd in Florida: “You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden? Who would believe this?”
Swedes have no idea what Trump is talking about; an international incident ensues.
Trump’s virtual shouts at the television aren’t limited to Fox News (NBC, MSNBC and CNN have fired him up, too), and they have been about everything from Russia to Obamacare to flag burning.
Clearly we are not going to get Trump to turn off the idiot box and do his homework. But perhaps somebody could change the channel in the residence? This way, Trump could still get his frustrations out, La-Z-Boy-style — and the republic would not have to fear that the commander in chief might at any moment start World War III because of something he just heard on Fox News.
With some guidance from Hank Stuever, the Post’s TV critic, I searched the proverbial dial for shows that might prove useful distractions for Trump. Following, with the necessary SPOILER ALERT, are examples of how Trump could be occupied with fictional drama to prevent him from creating real crises.
Instead of dire warnings of terrorist threats, he could tweet about Showtime’s “Homeland”: “Ungrateful TRAITOR Carrie Mathison, whose law firm helps Radical Islamic Terrorists, has daughter taken away. We are already winning again, America!”
He could channel personal animosity not at Democrats but at the contestants of Discovery’s “Naked and Afraid”: “CHOKER Jason, highly overrated with 6.8 PSR, drops out on Day 11 because of ‘parasites.’ Weak! Too much pixelation covering Lacey. Sad.”
His unnerving rants about crime and violence could find an outlet in recent actions on CMT’s “Nashville”: “Rayna escapes knife attack but then killed after car crash. Carnage stops right now!”
He might direct his conspiracy theories about rigged elections into demanding an investigation into how crooked Blake Shelton won five of 11 seasons on “The Voice.” His curious fondness for Russia could find a healthy outlet by watching FX’s “The Americans”; everybody roots for Russian spies Philip and Elizabeth. And he could work through his issues with women and minorities by focusing them on HBO’s “Girls”: “Shocker! Total zero Lena Dunham gets pregnant by the foreign Muslim, Riz Ahmed.”
And — who knows? — maybe watching the Weather Channel now and then might get him to reconsider climate change: “Winter Storm Reggie coming followed by 2 more storms — and 49 Midwest tornadoes. I INHERITED A MESS!”
Who wouldn’t retweet that?
Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank. (c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group