December 27, 2018

"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

December 11, 2018

President Trump's search for a new chief of staff has take on "the feel of a season of The Apprentice, his former NBC reality show," The Washington Post reports. "Candidates for the job are unsure of the status of the president's deliberations and are being kept largely in the dark from the White House." But there is one major different between reality TV and reality, The New York Times adds: In real life, Trump "famously avoids one-on-one interpersonal conflict," and he absolutely hates firing people.

After months of deliberation, Trump had decided he wanted to poach Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, Nick Ayers, to replace his own chief of staff, John Kelly. To make room for Ayers, Trump "had been trying for awhile to pull the trigger on firing Mr. Kelly," the Times reports, adding:

Famous for the "You're fired!" catchphrase and also for hating confrontation, Mr. Trump had looked for others to do the work for him last week — even attempting to arrange for Mr. Ayers to fire Mr. Kelly — according to three people familiar with the events. Finally, Mr. Trump persuaded Mr. Pence and Mr. Ayers to join him in hashing things out with Mr. Kelly in the presidential residence on Friday night. But instead of sticking to the plan to let Mr. Kelly leave with dignity, which Mr. Ayers and others in the White House had urged the president to do, Mr. Trump decided to announce it himself on Saturday. [The New York Times]

Ayers turned down Trump's job offer on Sunday, after Trump had been telling people Ayers had accepted the position, the Post reports. Still, the Times adds, "on Monday, according to several people close to the administration, the president was more focused on his success in dispatching Mr. Kelly than on his anger at Mr. Ayers." Peter Weber

December 3, 2016

Ford Motor Company could be persuaded to halt outsourcing plans and keep manufacturing jobs here in the United States, executives indicated in interviews with Bloomberg and the Detroit Free Press on Friday. But if President-elect Donald Trump hopes to replicate his deal with Carrier, an air conditioning manufacturer that wanted to move some 2,100 jobs from Indiana to Mexico, he'll have to pony to Ford's demands.

"We will be very clear in the things we'd like to see," said Mark Fields, Ford's chief executive officer, to Bloomberg. High on his list are tax reform, free trade rules, and a relaxation of fuel economy regulations that have automakers producing more electric vehicles than they can sell. Fields argued Ford's position is not identical to Carrier's, as the automaker is repurposing its factories to build other models when it shifts some models' production abroad.

At the Detroit Free Press, Ford Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks acknowledged that a call from the president-elect did influence Ford's recent decision to keep making a Lincoln SUV model in Kentucky. Shanks expressed hope that going forward, "there [is] some adjustment that can be made to the present regulatory framework that recognizes the market realities."

For more on whether the Carrier deal — and the inevitable subsequent demands from companies like Ford — was a terrific or terrible idea, check out The Week's dueling analyses. Bonnie Kristian

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