Asked Thursday why he decided -- seemingly out of the blue -- to pardon conservative author Dinesh D'Souza, President Donald Trump said this-(bolding is mine):
"Only because, only because of I felt from I don't know him, I never met him. I called him last night, first time I've ever spoken to him. I said I'm pardoning you. Nobody asked me to do it."
"I've always felt he was very unfairly treated. And a lot of people did, a lot of people did. What should have been a quick minor fine, like everybody else with the election stuff....what they did to him was horrible."
"I always felt that he was ... I didn't know him. I read the papers. I see him on television."
That's a reminder -- not that we should need one -- of a) how much TV Trump actually watches and b) how much TV forms his views on, well, everything.
Trump's schedule has "executive time" allotted several times a-week -- time in which he watches TV, taped and live, and tweets. Trump's Twitter feed -- today and almost every day -- reflects how seriously he takes that time. His feed regularly features supportive quotes-he hears while watching TV.
"People close to him estimate that Mr. Trump spends at least four hours a day, and sometimes as much as twice that, in front of a television, sometimes with the volume muted, marinating in the no-holds-barred wars of cable news and eager to fire back," wrote The New York Times in December.
(Trump has denied he watches much TV at all.-"I don't get to watch much television," Trump said last November. "Primarily because of documents. I'm reading documents. A lot.")
It's not just that Trump watches TV. It's that TV serves not only as the lens through which he views the world -- D'Souza being on TV made him someone Trump felt like he knew and was worthy of a presidential pardon -- but also the way he learns about issues.
This exchange-between "Meet the Press" moderator Chuck Todd and Trump during the campaign illustrates how Trump looks to TV for information.
TODD: Who do you talk to for military advice right now?
TRUMP: Well, I watch the shows. I mean, I really see a lot of great --you know, when you watch your show and all of the other shows, and you have the generals.
The Point: It is not possible to-overestimate the influence cable TV has over Trump.-And we should never forget that.