New report reveals how crises trigger Trump's nearly pathological need for fawning praise
US President Donald Trump at a press conference in the East Room of the White House, October 2, 2019. (AFP / Saul Loeb)

One can tell a lot about President Donald Trump’s mentality by how livid he becomes whenever he is criticized by someone at Fox News. Although the vast majority of Fox’s coverage is stridently pro-Trump, that isn’t enough for the president. He believes that the right-wing cable news outlet owes him nonstop adulation. Glowing media coverage acts as a type of security blanket.

In a new report on Oct. 25 for the Daily Beast, Asawin Suebsaeng revealed the extent of Trump’s need to cocoon himself in favorable media coverage — particularly when times are tough.

And this isn’t the way all public officials behave. Some politicians welcome tough questions from the media. Sen. Bernie Sanders drew some criticism from Media Matters for doing a Fox News town hall earlier this year, but as the Vermont senator saw it, explaining his unapologetically left-of-center positions to a generally conservative audience was a valuable opportunity — and he obviously wasn’t intimidated by the hardball questions coming from Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.

But Trump, on the other hand, prefers to be surrounded by sycophants, and Suebsaeng’s article describes the ridiculous extremes he goes to in order to feed his need for adulation.

“Faced with a rapidly escalating impeachment inquiry and a potentially tough re-election fight,” Suebsaeng reports, “Trump is going to even greater lengths than usual to try to banish — or retaliate against — news outlets he perceives as unfriendly, and to build an even more tightly packed media igloo of praise and flattery for himself.”

Surrounding himself with glowing media coverage, Suebsaeng explains, is “a comfort mechanism for the president that intensifies whenever he feels under siege.”  Trump, a senior White House official told the Beast, is avoiding media coverage that doesn’t “make him feel beautiful and powerful.”

Trump needs validation so badly, according to Suebsaeng, that even “the emphatically pro-Trump environments of Fox News and Fox Business…. sometimes aren’t enough for this president.” Indeed, Trump becomes furious on the rare occasions when someone at Fox News or Fox Business — Judge Andrew Napolitano or Chris Wallace, for example — is critical of him.

Trump, as Suebsaeng notes, refuses to appear on CNN or MSNBC. And Trump has ordered federal agencies to cancel their New York Times and Washington Post subscriptions.

The president, according to Suebsaeng, also uses praise on Twitter for validation — and after rallies, he likes to receive printouts of pro-Trump tweets.

“It remains to this day a source of joy for the president,” an anonymously quoted senior administration official told the Beast. “He will sometimes wave (the post-rally printouts) around, talking about how much people love him and what a great job he did…. It’s often  someone from Fox or some guy from the internet tweeting about the president.”

And according to that source, Trump will complain to senior aides if he doesn’t receive a packet of printouts of favorable tweets within 20 minutes after a MAGA rally ends.