The President Donald Trump administration seems a lot more "Game of Thrones" than United States White House in a recent expose by Politico.
Reportedly, the president's infamous ignorance and seemingly pathological tendency to act brashly before thinking is played upon by White House aides. If this scares you, it should; whatever news crosses Trump's desk, no matter if it's fake, has the potential to influence the policies that shape our lives.
According to Politico, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told aides at a senior staff meeting to stop slipping stories to the president. The warning came after an incident just days earlier that had nearly escalated into yet another public relations issue for an administration already widely disliked.
Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland had left printouts of two Time magazine covers on the Oval Office desk. Four White House officials who were privy to the incident told reporters that one was from 2008 and addressed the threat of global warming. The other, from the 1970s, predicted a coming ice age and had been confirmed as a hoax years ago. Of course Trump didn't know that.
The president became agitated by the conflicting stories and began to heat up over the hypocrisy of the "fake media." Luckily for the White House, staff was able to uncover the truth and dissuade him from lashing out publically about the issue before he had all the facts.
One White House official defended McFarland to Politico, insisting that it was an honest mistake. Nevertheless, the room for error or manipulation when it comes to influencing the president remains alarmingly large.
Traditionally, what goes into the president's ears is carefully monitored, but Trump has fashioned his office into an open highway of information, and he doesn't bother taking the time to differentiate the lies from the truth. He reportedly rarely uses the internet, so he primarily gets his information from his advisors, staff, and, according to Politico, a carefully curated binder of daily news articles. If someone wants to push an agenda ,and they are morally corrupt enough to use one of the millions of fake news stories out there to do it, the president is an easy target.
“You know that people are going to go around the system. But then it’s up to the principal to decide how to handle it,” explained Lisa Brown, White House staff secretary under Barack Obama. “You need the president to say ‘thanks, I appreciate it’ [when he receives stories] and to hand it off to get it into a process.”
It takes no stretch of the mind to imagine that this just does not happen with Trump in power. If he is left with incomplete or biased information, it's safe to assume that he would not have the wherewithal to seek a more complete picture before launching into a Twitter rant or making monumental policy decisions.
A recent example is Trump's tax plan, which has been panned by Democrats for favoring America's wealthiest and buying into the farce that is "trickle down economics." Per Politico, the plan was almost entirely influenced by a New York Times op-ed written by four economists who advised Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign. After the article mysteriously made it to the president's desk, he ordered that a plan be drawn up in accordance to what was written.
“Several of the White House folks came up to us and said, ‘It’s your op-ed that got Trump moving on this,’” Stephen Moore, one of the economists behind the op-ed, said. “I’ve probably written 1,000 op-eds in my life but that might have been the most impactful.”
All in all, it's a recipe for disaster. Trump (aka the fuse that's always lit) has drastically limited the sources from which he gets the information necessary to be a fair and successful president. This is a huge advantage for those around him looking to push their own agendas or those of their allies, and how this can (and will) sway Trump's policymaking cannot bode well for the average American. After all, we're not the one's whispering in his ear.