Twitter users were perplexed by a Thursday morning tweet from Donald Trump, who recommended Fox News host Brian Kilmeade's latest book, Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans: The Battle That Shaped America's Destiny. One problem: Trump has a history of... well, not reading much.
For Trump to recommend a presidential biography is particularly surprising. In Summer 2016, he told The Washington Post that he had "not read any biographies of presidents," and that he could not find the time to read, saying: "I never have. I’m always busy doing a lot. Now I’m more busy, I guess, than ever before." As I wrote back in January, when asked about his favorite books, the 45th POTUS names his own ghostwritten titles.
Trump's reading habits have been the subject of frequent media coverage, largely because the extent to which he appears to avoid reading is so great. His intelligence briefings are reportedly loaded with "maps, charts, pictures and videos, as well as 'killer graphics,'" according to a May article in The Washington Post that quoted CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Trump himself told Axios in January that, when it came to briefings, "I like bullets or I like as little as possible."
Of course, Trump's Thursday book recommendation combines two things he really likes: Fox News and Andrew Jackson. Newsweek calls him "an avid follower of" the Kilmeade-hosted Fox and Friends morning show. Published in November, a Washington Post analysis of Trump's related tweets revealed that he was likely watching Fox News on at least 108 of his first 313 days as POTUS. On Nov. 27, Trump tweeted that the conservative cable network was "MUCH more important in the United States than CNN."
Much like his comments about books and reading, Trump's statements on Andrew Jackson have been the subject of scrutiny. He has stanned for the seventh POTUS many times, claiming that slave-owner Jackson "[w]ould never have let [the Civil War] happen," and voicing his opposition to the Treasury Department's decision to replace Jackson's face with Harriet Tubman's on the $20 bill.
Trump's affinity for Jackson is odd, to say the least. McGill University historian J.M. Opal tells PolitiFact that "Trump is the first president to so openly admire and point to Jackson as a model." Jackson's unpopularity with recent presidents could be attributed to his mistreatment of indigenous populations. His Indian Removal Act of 1830 allowed the president to forcefully relocate Native American tribes from the southern states to areas west of the Mississippi River, leading to the string of events known as the Trail of Tears. In spite of this, the White House recently staged an event to honor three Navajo code talkers in front of a portrait of "Indian Killer" Jackson.
Kilmeade has come under fire for his comments. In addition to his 2010 claim that "all terrorists are Muslims," the Fox and Friends host claimed that American P.O.W. Bowe Bergdahl's father, Bob, looked "like a member of the Taliban" after growing out his beard in a show of solidarity for his captured son. In 2009, Kilmeade also said that Swedish and Finnish populations were "pure," unlike people in the U.S., who "keep marrying other species and other ethnics."
So a POTUS who — by all accounts — doesn't read, recommends a book about a violently racist former president, written by a guy who has made a lot of racist comments in the past? Unfortunately, that sounds about right.