An article in Friday’s Washington Post about President Trump’s unorthodox intelligence briefings has become spin fodder for MSNBC talking heads, who would have their viewers believe that the President is utterly disinterested in matters of national security.
The concerns of some in the intelligence community, as described in the Post article, prompted a dramatic overreaction from Nicolle Wallace on Live With Katy Tur on Friday. Wallace initially maintained her cool as she explained the significance of the President’s Daily Brief, or PDB, but she inevitably launched into a panicked tirade about national security.
I was speaking with [James Clapper] and he said, you know, it is not the President’s job to come to our level. It is our job to go to his. So it is our job to brief him on threats to the nation in whatever manner he wants it. And the idea that he likes pictures and graphs, that is his prerogative, and he is the President. But what’s troubling is that it doesn’t seem that there’s anything that’s briefed to him consistently.
“Are you surprised that nothing has happened?” Tur prodded. “I mean, that nothing major has happened?”
“I’m shocked,” Wallace exclaimed. “That we have a president that doesn’t even want to know what the threats are to the nation on a daily basis is shocking.”
The article in question was aptly titled, "Breaking with tradition, Trump skips president’s written intelligence reports and relies on oral briefings." The authors allege that President Trump has deviated from the norm by eschewing the President’s Daily Brief, or PDB. This document, which is compiled daily by intelligence officials, contains “the most pressing information collected by U.S. intelligence agencies from hot spots around the world.” Rather than read the PDB, the piece explains, the President prefers to be briefed orally by intelligence experts in meetings that occur on a near-daily basis, according to aides.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo is quoted in the article as commending that President Trump is “deeply engaged” during the meetings, and that he “asks hard questions.” However, there is some disagreement among intelligence officials about the efficacy of these oral briefings as compared with the more detailed PDB that the previous seven Presidents relied on.
Wallace’s outburst is just the latest example of network pundits taking considerable liberties with the lines between truth and fiction.