Explaining Sweden: Trump’s TV Habits (Updated)

This (via TPM) may explaing Trump’s Sweden rant:

This does not, in my opinion, change the basic thesis of my post on this topic.

Worst case scenario is that Trump is using this all cynically to promote his goals  The best case scenario is that Trump is your crazy uncle who takes a wholly uncritical view of what he watches on Fox News and does not understand that just because someone says something in an interview, it does not mean that it is all one needs to know on a subject (especially when the interview is interspersed with dramatic footage of flames and other violent images).

Note: the best case scenario is not reassuring.

The fact that it appears possible to frequently connect public statements by the President of the United States back to cable TV infotainment shows is really disturbing.


Yup, it is all about what he watched on TV.

So Tweets POTUS:

FILED UNDER: Media, US Politics, , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. al-Ameda says:

    Donald Trump makes Sarah Palin seem meditative, deliberate and thoughtful.

  2. dmhlt says:

    I heard that a few survivors of the brutal Bowling Green Massacre are headed to Sweden as a show of solidarity.

  3. CSK says:


    It’s interesting that Sarah Palin was Steve Bannon’s first attempt at creating a presidential candidate. Trump is just Palin on steroids: same witless gabble, same breathtaking ignorance, but far crazier and more vindictive.

  4. gVOR08 says:

    Does that same filmmaker claim to have footage of hundreds of Muslims in NJ celebrating 9/11?

  5. JKB says:

    The fact that it appears possible to frequently connect public statements by the President of the United States back to cable TV infotainment shows is really disturbing.

    Know how you feel.

  6. Jc says:

    Lol JKB, what about the millions of illegal voters? Where did Trump pull that one from? Infowars? I.e. Fake News. News and talking head opinions and nut job conspiracy theories are two different things. Trump seems to love the latter and berate and hate the other. Speaking of news, anyone see those tax returns or divestiture or the doubling of Mar a lago fees since becoming President, or the obvious uptick in cost in dealing with this Presidents travel and family. Enjoy the dictator in chief

  7. @JKB: Because, of course, this is exactly the same kind of thing.

    The same thing would be if Obama got all his info from watching the commentary programming on MSNBC.

    (And yes, the “Fast and Furious” response in those clips was lame).

  8. CSK says:

    Well, The Conservative (Nut)Treehouse says Trump was absolutely correct in his comment.

    So there.

  9. PT says:

    “But I saw it on Tucker Carlson”…

    Oh ffs

  10. @PT: Indeed.

  11. David M says:

    I don’t think Trump gets what being President actually means. He doesn’t have to watch cable news to find out what’s going on, he has people that will find out whatever he wants to know.

    This is in addition to the complete insanity of making public policy based on something he saw on Tucker Carlson’s show.

  12. Davebo says:

    @David M:

    He doesn’t have to watch cable news to find out what’s going on, he has people that will find out whatever he wants to know.

    Well to be fair, he doesn’t have a National Security Advisor and most of the various under-secretary positions still have no one appointed much less confirmed.

  13. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    It’s exactly the same thing…because fast and furious and the IRS thing were both faux scandals made up by Republicans…the same as nothing happened in Sweden or Bowling Green, the EC was not a landslide, there were not millions of illegal voters, Trumps Inaugural was not yyyuuuuuge, and Mexicans and Muslims are not flowing into the country through open borders.
    The problem for this nation is that you Republicans are colossal idiots who choose to live in an alternate universe where bullshit is king.
    Your ignorance and gullibility are helping to destroy the country.

  14. gVOR08 says:

    @Davebo: Read somewhere that a lot of his speech at the rally was read off a teleprompter. So did Trump see something on Tucker Carlson and misstate it, or did he pay someone to see it on Tucker Carlson and misstate it? I read a column by an ex Obama WH fact checker. Does the Trump have WH fact checkers? (Sometimes I just crack myself up.)

  15. CSK says:

    @David M:

    You’re assuming that Trump has the patience or ability to assimilate the information that’s contained in a written or oral briefing.

    In any case, Trump doesn’t think there are any gaps in his knowledge. He gets everything he needs to know from “the shows.” Remember when he said he knew more about ISIS than the generals?

  16. Pch101 says:

    FOX News is busy trying to defend Trump’s statements, while the Swedes mock us.

    I’ve been abroad quite a bit, and I think that it’s fair to say that Americans are often stereotyped as being rough around the edges and ignorant of the world.

    That’s not always fair, but it is guys like Trump who embody and support every negative perception of Americans. This kind of American doesn’t earn any respect, and only makes him and us look dumb and clumsy.

    Between the Russians wanting to cuckold us and our allies being made wary of what’s to come, our stock is falling. The Swedish non-massacre is funny, but it also reduces our credibility.

  17. Jen says:

    After chuckling at all of the “Je suis Ikea” posts I’ve been seeing, it occurs to me that Trump seems to find a heck of a lot more time to watch TV than I do. Isn’t there something else he could be doing with his time? Like learning policy, or maybe filling all of those empty posts across government?

  18. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Being the curious sort I checked out the Tucker Carlson segment in question. It’s with Ami Horowitz…an immigrant who is anti-immigration…who did a film about a non-existent crime-wave in Sweden.
    Policy based on bullshit agitprop being aired on a third-rate cable show. Brilliant.

  19. CSK says:


    I’m pretty sure Bannon, Jared, and Ivanka are working on all those things you mentioned while Trump watches television. He doesn’t do newspapers or magazines, much less actual briefing papers.

    Didn’t he sign the Muslim ban EO without reading it?

  20. gVOR08 says:

    @dmhlt: There were actually two Bowling Green not really Massacres. The other was in Bowling Green Ohio. In 2012 the FBI raided the store of a guy banned from owning guns because of an assault conviction. They found a hidden room full of assault rifles, vests, and such, along with a list of Blacks and Jews the cops described as a target list. The incident was not widely reported. Possibly because the guy was white.

  21. gVOR08 says:


    After chuckling at all of the “Je suis Ikea” posts I’ve been seeing

    I think this wins the internet today:

    Three million screws and one toy wrench. Looks like my last bookcase.

  22. Jen says:

    @gVOR08: That is classic–even better than the “we will rebuild” with a picture of an angled allen wrench.

  23. Joe says:

    So one theory was that Trump was conflating the car bombing Sehwan, Pakistan. Though that seems unlikely, why hasn’t Trump pointed out a car bombing in Pakistan? Is it only terrorism when its focused on Europe/USA?

  24. gVOR08 says:

    @Joe: No. Geography has little to do with it. It’s only terrorism if the perp is a Muslim and the targets are white.

    I say that facetiously, but you may remember that several years ago a white guy flew his light plane into an IRS office and killed several people. It was reported that one of the networks had a staff meeting and argued about whether the incident should be called terrorism. Now you could have a legitimate argument about whether one lone nut constitutes an action to effect a political outcome by instilling fear, but the issue was that he wasn’t Muslim. (I don’t recall what they decided.)

  25. DrDaveT says:

    @David M:

    He doesn’t have to watch cable news to find out what’s going on, he has people that will find out whatever he wants to know.

    You say that as if Trump actually cares what’s really going on.

    I will say this again: when Trump speaks, he has no intent to convey meaning. Asking whether what he is saying is ‘true’ is a category error, like asking whether what the dog is growling is ‘true’, or what the tuba is playing is ‘factual’. Trump uses mouth noises to influence people. He’s good at it, at least with the 1/4 of Americans badly failed by their local educational system. But he genuinely doesn’t care what the sense (if any) of what he uttered was, and he probably won’t remember it tomorrow.

  26. bill says:

    he’s prophetic, deal with it. it’s called “winning”!

  27. bill says:

    @David M: so was tuckers show full of made up facts or something?
    and props to steve for even mentioning the riots there- the msm couldn’t bear to publicize them after slamming trump for his mis-quote.

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:


    that’s a lot of people who don’t need to be here! and you really think the irs didn’t target political groups?! c’mon man….. fast n furious did happen too- even the sanitized version made it to the msm!

  28. An Interested Party says:

    he’s prophetic, deal with it.

    Muhammad was also supposedly a prophet…do be sure to pay deference to him too…

  29. DrDaveT says:


    and you really think the irs didn’t target political groups?!

    Of course they targeted political groups — that’s their JOB when reviewing 501(c)(4) applications. Try to keep up.

    What they didn’t do was selectively target right-wing political groups. (They did, however, take advantage of the fact that many such groups helpfully self-label.)

  30. Tyrell says:

    News: riots break out in Sweden. Swedish leaders speak out, say that Trump actually understated the problems in Sweden (WSJ)

  31. Stephen Bloom says:

    Sweden is riddled with no-go enclaves polulated by Islamic refugees and immigrants. They frequently erupt in riots. President Trump may have generalized but he is not wrong.