I’m asking that question earnestly. I don’t know the answer. But it’s fun to speculate, as part of a new game we’re going to be playing for the next four years called “What the hell inspired that?” We played it just last week, if you remember, when he tweeted one morning out of the blue about locking up flag-burners and maybe stripping their citizenship. That subject was completely off the political radar until some mysterious unknown stimulus inspired a thought to flit across Trump’s mind, raising the question: What the hell inspired that?
Lefty site TPM has a theory. A story about Boeing’s CEO criticizing Trump’s trade policy went live on the Chicago Tribune website this morning at 7:30 a.m. Trump tweeted about the exorbitant cost of Boeing’s new Air Force One models just 22 minutes later. Did he see the Tribune story and retaliate? I’m thinking … no. Read the Tribune story and you’ll see that there’s nothing in it that’s so harsh that would have required a staffer to bring it to Trump’s immediate attention. It’s some anodyne hand-wringing about how a trade war with China might hurt business. It’s also hard to believe that Trump is routinely checking the Tribune website or, as one Twitter pal suggested, that he or his staff have some sort of Google alert set up to flag new news stories that include his name. He’s the president-elect; every story includes his name.
Besides, how often does Trump tweet about print news apart from stuff in the New York Times or Washington Post? He is, famously, a fan of “the shows,” especially the morning shows. He phones into “Fox & Friends” regularly (or used to, at least). He feeds scoops to Joe Scarborough. Chances are, if he’s flying off the handle about something in the early hours of the day, it’s because cable news just did a segment on it. That’s the leading theory for how the flag-burning tweet came to be, in fact:
— Katherine Faulders (@KFaulders) November 29, 2016
Any proper game of “What the hell inspired that?” should begin with a review of what was airing on cable news between 6 and 9 a.m. that day. As luck would have it, John Ziegler decided to conduct that review for this morning’s programming and found this news tidbit that aired on Fox at around 6:40:
>>> more jobs may be headed overseas. the “washington post” reporting the obama administration is working on a deal to build fighter jets in india instead of the united states. both lockheed martin and boeing agree to manufacture f-16 and f-18 jets in india bringing 1,000 jobs oversea, days after president-elect donald trump worked to keep the same number of jobs at carrier manufacturing in indiana.
Assuming that transcript is accurate, that’s actually not what the Post reported. The story on Boeing and Lockheed Martin building F-16s and F/A-18s for India mentioned specifically that “any partnership to manufacture jets in India would not result in a net loss of American jobs but would create Indian employment.” They’re going to manufacture those planes abroad and, presumably, reassign U.S. workers who used to build those jets to other projects. The way Fox presented the story, though, made it sound like outsourcing. Is that why Trump brought up Air Force One, because he thought Boeing was set to embarrass him by sending jobs overseas right as he’s preparing to take office and is enjoying some goodwill after the Carrier deal? Or is there something else going on behind the scenes that inspired the Air Force One tweet? When you’ve chosen someone known for lashing out in retaliation at enemies to be the most powerful man in the world, there’s no end to the possibilities.
Here’s Rush relishing the idea of a president-elect attacking a company as retribution for, among other things, donating to his political opponents. In lieu of an exit question, read this darkly funny story at CNBC about Wall Street nerds trying to design an algorithm that’ll help make trading decisions based on Trump’s tweets. If he’s going to try to tank companies’ shares by threatening to withhold federal contracts (which he did today with some success in Boeing’s case), savvy investors should be prepared to cash in.
Update: I didn’t see their item until I had finished this post but it turns out Mediaite had the same thought about the Fox News segment this morning that Ziegler and I had. They’ve posted the video, wondering if that’s what inspired Trump’s tweet. Go judge for yourself. Oh, and yes, Fox did misrepresent the WaPo story about Boeing and Lockheed Martin supposedly “outsourcing” jobs.