Everyone knows President Donald Trump watches means an excessive amount of cable tv information. Ought to he — ought to any president — watch any TV information?
I’m going to present that one a professional, cautious “sure.” Nevertheless it requires an evidence.
Presidents, because the late presidential scholar Richard Neustadt mentioned, ought to crave data. Even our most well-informed presidents merely don’t know sufficient, as a result of there’s far an excessive amount of to know. Nobody can presumably be an knowledgeable on all that presidents should take care of: the politics of dozens of countries, army choices, the economic system, taxes, well being care, training, local weather, agriculture, and on and on and on. Simply the classes are deceptive, since every of them has virtually infinite subdivisions. It’s useful for presidents to no less than have a normal grasp of essentially the most urgent of the coverage points they are going to face in workplace, however anticipating rather more than that’s pointless.
Luckily, presidents have extra sources for acquiring data than anybody else on the planet. They’ve an enormous paperwork accessible to them, and so they can order up something they need from the manager department’s departments and companies. However presidents found way back that these departments and companies have agendas of their very own, and so their data can include a bias. That’s one of many foremost causes presidents from Harry Truman on developed the “presidential department,” which amongst different issues has its personal collection of specialists in companies such because the Nationwide Safety Council or the Council of Financial Advisers, who’re accountable solely to the president and subsequently, presumably, talking solely out of their very own experience.
Presidents additionally obtain data from curiosity teams, political events, different governments (together with each international nations and U.S. state and native governments) and extra. Most of these include a transparent perspective, however that doesn’t imply they’ll’t add to the president’s data.
So why transcend that?
As a result of it’s laborious to know what’s right. Presidential aides could be susceptible to groupthink, the tendency of groups of advisers to see issues the identical means. They’re additionally susceptible to giving the president no matter she or he desires — or no less than no matter individuals across the president imagine she or he desires. And specialists include their very own biases, which can be obscure to these outdoors educational or skilled circles.
The issue, in fact, is getting out of the president’s personal data bubble. That’s the place presidents have usually turned to “kitchen cupboards” of casual networks of associates, a few of whom are actually outdoors of politics altogether, for a actuality verify. It’s additionally why presidents are sensible to control the mass media. It’s not that it will get presidents away from bias. It’s that it permits them to go to different bubbles than their traditional ones, giving them a technique to see what their specialists and the people who’ve common entry to them are lacking.
I’d be OK with a president together with cable information as a part of that complement to their data weight loss plan. Solely with the understanding, nonetheless, that it’s the additional sugar they’re pouring onto their Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs, not the core dietary meals. From all we’ve heard, Trump has it backward. However that doesn’t imply there’s nothing a president who has already achieved his or her homework might study from these exhibits.
Jonathan Bernstein is a Bloomberg View columnist. He taught political science on the College of Texas at San Antonio and DePauw College and wrote A Plain Weblog About Politics.