Trump's Admininstration Learns The Importance Of Reading Beyond The Headline

by Morgan Brinlee
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Who actually reads beyond the headline of news articles anymore? Apparently no one, not even the person responsible for generating the White House's daily newsletter. In a sign Trump's administration either doesn't understand when it's being mocked or simply doesn't read beyond the headline, the White House promoted a satirical column mocking the president's budget proposal under the headline "Trump's budget makes perfect sense and will fix America and I will tell you why" in its daily newsletter Friday.

On Thursday, the Washington Post published a tongue-in-cheek column from regular columnist Alexandra Petri. Under the headline "Trump's budget makes perfect sense and will fix America and I will tell you why," Petri savagely mocks President Donald Trump's recently released budget for making "all sorts of cuts to needed programs in favor of increasing military spending by leaps and bounds." On Friday, the White House mentioned Petri's column in the roundup of notable news reports included in its daily newsletter. In essence, this is like being stamped as "real news" by an administration that dedicates so much of it's time to sniffing out the so-called "fake news."

Lest you conclude Petri's sarcasm was simply too subtle, I'd like to point out that her column included an overabundance of sentences typed out in all caps as well as gems like, "With the money we will save on these sad public servants, we will be able to buy lots of GUNS and F-35s and other cool things that go BOOM and POW and PEW PEW PEW."

Surely if anyone at the White House had read Petri's column they wouldn't have missed the satire behind, "All schoolchildren will be taught by an F-35 wearing a Make America Great Again hat." Or the joke embedded into "in the future we will cure disease by punching it, or, if that fails, sending drones after it." Or the fact that the article ends on the guttural battle cry of "RAW POWER! HARD RAW POWER GRRRRRR HISSS POW!"

If the error was due to someone at the White House failing to properly engage with Petri's article (by you know, actually reading it), then they're hardly alone. A study done in 2016 found that 59 percent of people would share an article without having read it, Forbes reported. In fact, it's long been said that Americans are largely headline readers, which is to say they routinely read the headline of a news article but nothing else beyond that.

While it's impossible to say whether it was a lack of reading beyond the headline or a complete misunderstanding of the article that caused the White House to slip Petri's column into its daily newsletter, Petri is fine with either. "I was as surprised as anyone to discover that I was Real News," Petri wrote in a column about the incident published in the Post on Friday. "Here I thought that I was toiling away in the Dank Cesspool of the Mainstream Media, but all along I was a Trusted News Source, just like!"

Petri's column has since been removed from 1600 Daily, the White House's regular newsletter.