It’s worse than we thought. Although it’s been long reported that Donald Trump has an aversion to long-form literature, new interviews have revealed that he’s taken this habit to new extremes during his presidency.
In a long-form article on fired National Security Advisor H.R. McMasters, The New Yorker accidentally divulged some incredibly concerning information on how the president processes information:
‘When Trump assumed office, N.S.C. staffers initially generated memos for him that resembled those produced for his predecessors: multi-page explications of policy and strategy.’
It’s an immense amount of reading. Here’s how Obama used his free time to knock out some of the necessary reading:
Obama's nightly reading: immense stack of briefing papers, memos/docs from across gov't, 10 letters from Americans, speeches..skimmed through NYT, WaPo, WSJ..and still made time for novels ? https://t.co/Q6wpYC4E2H
— Ben Sasse's Tribal Blood Feud (@serratazara) February 11, 2018
Trump, though? This is not how he prefers to spend his time. So one of his staffers directed the N.S.A to shorten any info given to the president:
‘An edict came down. Thin it out.’
It’s honestly an insane request to summarize complicated policy into a single page. Staffers accomplished this feat, but it wasn’t enough:
‘But then word comes back: “This is still too much.” A senior Trump aide explained to the staffers that the President is “a visual person,” and asked them to express points “pictorially.”’
So Trump’s staff had to come up with a solution. Again, to be clear, the president refused to read even single pages with lots of pictures. What they did, according to a former staffer:
‘By the time I left, we had these cards. They are long and narrow, made of heavy stock, and emblazoned with the words “the white house” at the top.’
Tiny notecards. The hopelessness expressed by these staffers is palpable:
‘Trump receives a thick briefing book every night, but nobody harbors the illusion that he reads it. Filling out a card is the best way to raise an issue with him in writing. Everything that needs to be conveyed to the President must be boiled down to “two or three points, with the syntactical complexity of ‘See Jane run.’”’
This is backed up by photo evidence. Remember Trump’s sit-down with the survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida? Here’s a photo from that event:
It’s a long, white, rectangular card, with “The White House” emblazoned at the top. Exactly as described.
When photos of the event were released, the media picked up on the content of the card, remarking on the ridiculousness of needing to remind a sitting president to demonstrate empathy (point 3, “I hear you.”). Now we know that this is the extent of any written information passed to the president.
This extreme lack of intellectual curiosity may have been what led people to respond to Trump’s job offers like this:
"who turned it down, reportedly saying to friends that the job was “a shit sandwich.”
— Officious Bystander (@shaydeeangel) April 23, 2018
Featured image: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty