President Trump's obsession with cable news is well known. He watches at least four hours a day, some sources claim — and a new report indicates just how particular he gets about it. According to The New York Times, Trump exploded because Melania's TV was set to CNN when the two flew overseas together on the presidential plane, Air Force One.
The incident reportedly occurred earlier this month when the first lady accompanied her husband on his trip to the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Finland. Trump has instigated a rule where Air Force One televisions must be set to Fox News at the beginning of his flights, so their travels got off to a strained start when he learned that Melania's was tuned to CNN.
The incident created "a bit of a stir," according to an email chain obtained by the Times. The thread contains messages between White House staff in the communications department and in the Military Office, and the Times reports that it ends with officials certifying "that tuning the TVs to Fox would be standard operating procedure going forward."
Trump apparently "raged" at his employees for the mistake. He hates CNN — he's bashed it since the campaign — and makes a point to label it "fake news." During a press conference with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May during the Europe trip, he refused to take questions from CNN reporters and instead focused his attention on Fox.
"CNN's fake news," he said, declining to call on Jim Acosta, "I don't take questions from CNN." He moved on: "John Roberts of Fox — let's go to a real network."
The president's relationship with CNN is constantly tense, but occasionally their antagonism flares up into extraordinary incidents like these. Another example occurred last July, when Trump tweeted out a meme of himself attacking CNN on WrestleMania (the network's logo was edited to replace wrestler Vince McMahon's head).
Of course, Trump does like to watch CNN — just not, apparently, at the very start of his trips abroad. In December, sources close to him told The New York Times that he watches non-Fox networks in the morning to get "infuriated" and "energized" for the day. The same report indicated that the president tends to watch at least four hours, and sometimes up to eight hours, of TV a day.
Trump's preferred shows, of course, are the ones on Fox, particularly "Fox & Friends" and "The Sean Hannity Show." He appears frequently on the network and tweets links to its stories, which tend to be very flattering to him. Critics have called Fox News a "propaganda machine" and even "state TV." The Times reports that Fox has been the most popular prime-time cable network every month for over six years.
According to the Times, the emails sent between White House staff about the Air Force One mishap included an additional request. Employees were commanded to obtain two more TVs so that both Trump and Melania can watch television when they're staying in separate hotel rooms. Presumably the president will want those tuned to Fox, too.