Special reports: THE IDEA FACTORY
December 27, 2018
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"The resignation letter of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis runs just shy of 600 words," Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple noted Wednesday. "For the average reader, digesting such a missive is an undertaking of about three minutes, maybe a bit less. Way too much, in other words, for the president of the United States." Wemple pointed to a New York Times report that President Trump did not actually read the resignation letter or understand its stinging rebuke of his neglect of allies and affinity for authoritarians until "after days of news coverage."

After initially praising Mattis, Trump "grew increasingly angry as he watched a parade of defense analysts go on television to extol Mr. Mattis's bravery," describing him "in near heroic terms for standing up to Mr. Trump and making his resignation count as no one else in the president's circle has done," the Times said. On Sunday, Trump had enough and announced "he was firing a man who had already quit," abruptly setting Mattis' departure date at Jan. 1, not at the end of February as had originally been agreed.

In other words, instead of reading a letter addressed to him, Trump "outsourced that job to the people on whom he relies the most: Commentators on cable news and other media," Wemple said. You can see Trump's "depraved dependency" on cable news in everything from his knuckling under to Fox News and Rush Limbaugh on the shutdown drama to his taking policy cues from Fox & Friends and hiring of Fox News alumni, he adds. You can read Wemple's own rebuke of Trump at The Washington Post. Peter Weber