Everyday Ambient Noise

Politico has a story today about the Herculean efforts being made by the professionals on President Trump’s staff to keep false information from his desk:

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus issued a stern warning at a recent senior staff meeting: Quit trying to secretly slip stuff to President Trump.

Just days earlier, K.T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser, had given Trump a printout of two Time magazine covers. One, supposedly from the 1970s, warned of a coming ice age; the other, from 2008, about surviving global warming, according to four White House officials familiar with the matter.

 Trump quickly got lathered up about the media’s hypocrisy. But there was a problem. The 1970s cover was fake, part of an Internet hoax that’s circulated for years. Staff chased down the truth and intervened before Trump tweeted or talked publicly about it.

The episode illustrates the impossible mission of managing a White House led by an impetuous president who has resisted structure and strictures his entire adult life.

Here’s a non-political statement, just an observation that no one can deny:

We have a 70 year old President who doesn’t read or think deeply about issues. He is prone to just go with the last thing someone told him, or lash out about an issue based on whatever he just saw on TV without thinking about nuance, consequences or whether or not it came from a legitimate source. He regularly cites Infowars, Fox & Friends and the National Enquirer while denigrating the New York Times and CNN.

Unfortunately, this will be an uphill battle for the White House staffers that are trying to help Trump be an effective president. It will be a field day for the types of insiders who want to encourage confusion, discord and misinformation in the debates of the day.

The president’s daily media diet, largely consisting of things being slipped to him and the nonsense on cable TV, is, frankly speaking, as shitty a media diet as is humanly possible to consume.

His willingness to tweet or blurt out whatever pops into his head, during any occasion, is the reason why he is gradually being tuned out by intelligent people. Wall Street, made up of people who are professionals at discounting information in real-time, has already begun ignoring his pronouncements entirely. The news media can’t look away from the spectacle, but investors are now treating it more as entertainment than anything else.

This could change. If more of the things the President tweets begin to actually lead to legislation and policy, then the attention will return.

But until then, one should not be looking for the traditional cause and effect between the White House’s messaging and the market’s response to start showing up anytime soon. We’ve discounted this messaging unto the point of it being thought of as just part of the normal ambient noise that investors face every day.


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