President Donald Trump sees his poll numbers as the same thing as television ratings, according to panelists on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
Host Joe Scarborough and others shared anecdotes showing the president's obsession with poll numbers and TV ratings, and his compulsion to push back when those popularity metrics are challenged.
"You have to to think back to that period you just described, 2015-2016, when reporters would go up to the 26th floor of Trump Tower," said Washington Post reporter Robert Costa. "President Trump would have all these framed ratings from 'The Apprentice' in picture frames on the wall. He would use the phrase ratings, and he would interchange it with the discussion of polling. He would say, 'My ratings are doing really well.'"
"This is back in 2015," Costa added. "We'd say what do you mean by your ratings? He meant his polling. Polling to him is connected in an almost personal way to his own popularity and status. He's sensitive to polling because he sees it as political ratings. That's why people in his inner circle are reluctant to give him bad polling information, because he takes it in that way. He doesn't just take it as data, he takes it as a reflection of his own popularity, but he does want to see the data."
Scarborough and co-host Mika Brzezinski recalled how Trump used to brag to them about his NBC reality show.
"He used to send us ratings and circle stuff and write little notes to us," Brzezinski said.
"On the back side of 'The Apprentice's' success, he will still fax us ratings: 'No. 1 again! Donald,'" Scarborough added. "You look at the ratings and it would be, like, 17. I'd hand it to Mika. Do you get this? I don't understand this, and it's so funny. I don't know what year it was. Maybe it was in 2011 or 2012, but it was the end of a remarkable run. But we could not figure out how he was saying he was No. 1. There are a lot of people that will tell you this story, he would fax it around, 'Still still No. 1.'"
Sam Stein, senior politics editor at HuffPost, recalled a time when Trump chafed at a tweet criticizing his appearance on "The View."
"During the height of his birther story stuff, he went on 'The View' or something, and I put out some random tweet (asking), is this all like theater or does he actually believe this stuff?" Stein said. "About a week later I got a piece of mail from him, printed-out tweet, scribbled all over by him, 'We'll never know but it sure is great ratings.'"
Brzezinski noted that Trump couldn't even win his time slot by personally promoting TV interviews.
"Sunday night's ABC News special that the president personally promoted on social media turned out to be a ratings bust," she said. "The show was third in its Sunday nighttime slot with 3.91 million viewers, a sharp drop from the week before, when 'Celebrity Family Feud' pulled in 6.1 million viewers. So he didn't get the ratings."
"Well," Stein said. "It's the 'Feud,' man."
"Come on," Scarborough agreed. "Gee, it's the 'Feud.'"