President Trump’s pathological need for constant flattery and validation is as pathetic as it is well-documented. He is incapable of taking any kind of criticism and is far more thin-skinned than the “snowflakes” his followers love to constantly mock.
Given this weakness of character, it’s not surprising that his media diet consists almost entirely of Fox News, where he is constantly praised for imagined achievements and his worst blunders are either ignored or misrepresented. One White House official explained the problem created by Trump’s constant Fox viewing.
“Sometimes on Fox, a lot of stories are embellished, and they don’t necessarily cover the big news stories of the day. When they cover the smaller stories, if that gets the president riled up, then that becomes an issue. Whenever he tweets, all of us do a mad dash or mad scramble to find out as much information about that random topic as possible. We’re used to it in a lot of ways, so it’s part of our morning routine.”
Now, it’s been revealed that Trump’s obsession with Fox goes beyond just live-tweeting his favorite right-wing shows. According to New York Magazine, just about every night, the president hops on a phone call with his personal propagandist Sean Hannity to discuss the day’s events.
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One White House official said that Hannity is essentially the “leader of the outside kitchen cabinet,” and that he has largely filled the role of advisor-coddler vacated when Steve Bannon left the administration. His job, as he sees it, is to confirm what the president already believes, praise his decisions and opinions, and encourage him to continue doing whatever he’s been doing.
Since First Lady Melania Trump sleeps in a different room than the president, Hannity also serves as a sort of de facto spouse, allowing Trump to decompress and giving him an emotional outlet after his work day.
They spend a lot of time complaining about the unfair “witch hunt,” which is to say the perfectly legal, necessary, and already-vindicated by multiple indictments Robert Mueller investigation into collusion between the Trump team and Russia.
“You can’t function without that,” one person who knows both Trump and Hannity said of the emotional release Hannity provides. And while the Fox host may legitimately like the president, “he knows how nuts he is. He’s decided that you’re all in or you’re not.”
A former White House official cut to the heart of the problem with the relationship between Trump and Hannity. They only serve to ossify each other’s worst opinions and there is no intellectual or critical honesty in the way they communicate with each other. It’s all raw emotion and instinct, which is no way to run a country.
A former White House official described the relationship as “a fucked-up feedback loop” that gets Trump “in a weird headspace. What ends up happening is Judge Jeanine or Hannity fill him up with a bunch of crazy shit, and everyone on staff has to go and knock down all the fucking fires they started.’”
It’s clear that Sean Hannity is exerting more power over world affairs than his qualifications, intelligence, or morality should allow, but with a president as incompetent and vile as this one, it was inevitable that creatures like Hannity would find a home, even an informal one, in his administration. The sooner he leaves office, the sooner Hannity can be relegated to the sideline where he belongs.