Trump greets Americans freed by North Korea

Warmbier negotiator Mickey Bergman: President Trump deserves credit for getting American prisoners back from North Korea.

Posted: May 11, 2018 10:48 AM
Updated: May 11, 2018 10:48 AM

In the very early hours of Thursday morning, President Donald Trump traveled to Andrews Air Force Base in order to personally greet the three American prisoners released by North Korea as they landed back in the United States.

It was the sort of thing presidents do. When they score a major accomplishment -- and this release is certainly a big deal -- they make sure people know about it. Trump isn't the first president to do it and he won't be the last.

But even in this most traditional of presidential photo ops/credit takings, Trump found a way to reveal just how different he is than anyone who has held the office before him.

As he wrapped up his brief remarks beside the three former prisoners, Trump said this (bolding is mine):

"I want to thank you all. It's very early in the morning. I think you probably broke the all time in history television rating for three o'clock in the morning. That I would say."

It is 3 a.m. Trump is standing beside a trio of men who have been held captive in an authoritarian regime for months and, in some cases, years. And he talks about how many people must be watching on TV.

It's a reminder of just how much reality TV -- and TV more generally -- serves as the most useful lens through which to look when you are trying to understand the Trump presidency.

All modern presidents have been aware that their every movement and pronouncement is being recorded, played back and analyzed to death. None -- not one -- have consumed more of the coverage of themselves than Trump. Television is his near-constant companion -- he uses it to get policy ideas, to judge how his presidency is playing and even to find new enemies to attack.

To Trump, good ratings mean success. It's that simple. If people are watching you, you are winning. It's a uniquely reality TV way of thinking -- and one that would fit comfortably as a life mantra for, say, Kim Kardashian or Jake Paul.

Failure is not having people judge you poorly. Failure is not being interesting enough to have them judge you.

Trump's obsessions with ratings is nothing new; a search through the invaluable Trump Twitter Archive produces 263 separate tweets in which he mentions the word "ratings."

As far back as May 2010, Trump was tweeting about his great ratings: "The ratings for the Celebrity Apprentice were fantastic and everyone had a great time. It was a terrific season -- congrats to everyone!"

And even when he transformed from reality TV star to presidential candidate, Trump's focus on ratings never wavered.

"Congratulations to @seanhannity on his tremendous increase in television ratings," Trump tweeted in May 2016. "Speaking of ratings- I will be on his show tonight @ 10pE."

Some expected Trump to change -- or act more presidential -- when he became, um, President. Nope!

"Wow, television ratings just out: 31 million people watched the Inauguration, 11 million more than the very good ratings from 4 years ago," Trump tweeted two days after becoming President.

What's remarkable about all of this is that Trump doesn't seem to distinguish between talking about ratings for a TV show, ratings for his inauguration or ratings for the arrival of former prisoners of the North Korean regime.

It's all ratings to him. And good ratings are something to be proud of, to talk about. People are interested in you, he was telling the three newly-released prisoners. There's a lot of good buzz out there about you! You are going to do great!

That is Trump. He sees himself only as people see him. If people are interested in him -- and ratings are how he judges that -- then he must be doing something right.

Don't overthink it. It's that simple.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 22947

Reported Deaths: 977
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin7695581
Ramsey2698110
Stearns199512
Nobles14963
Anoka128963
Dakota120249
Olmsted58210
Washington57630
Kandiyohi4761
Rice4232
Clay41625
Scott3832
Todd2960
Wright2801
Mower2311
Sherburne2222
Carver1892
Benton1733
Steele1490
Blue Earth1261
Martin1265
St. Louis11714
Freeborn1020
Unassigned9410
Pine890
Nicollet827
Winona7815
Carlton730
Cottonwood690
Watonwan640
Otter Tail630
Goodhue603
Polk592
Crow Wing591
Chisago541
Itasca548
Dodge460
Le Sueur441
Meeker440
Chippewa441
Morrison410
Jackson390
Douglas390
Lyon380
Murray360
Becker360
Isanti320
McLeod300
Waseca250
Rock220
Mille Lacs191
Wabasha170
Fillmore171
Pennington170
Swift170
Sibley150
Beltrami140
Brown142
Cass132
Faribault130
Wilkin113
Norman110
Kanabec111
Pipestone100
Marshall90
Wadena80
Pope80
Aitkin70
Koochiching70
Yellow Medicine60
Lincoln50
Mahnomen51
Renville50
Big Stone40
Red Lake40
Redwood40
Clearwater30
Traverse30
Lac qui Parle30
Grant30
Houston20
Roseau20
Hubbard10
Lake10
Kittson10
Stevens10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 18559

Reported Deaths: 506
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk3930118
Woodbury267232
Black Hawk172443
Linn94176
Marshall88215
Dallas87517
Buena Vista7020
Johnson6078
Muscatine54941
Wapello5456
Crawford4892
Tama40026
Scott35210
Louisa34210
Dubuque33418
Jasper25816
Pottawattamie2348
Sioux2130
Washington1858
Wright1450
Allamakee1204
Plymouth1191
Warren1160
Story991
Mahaska918
Poweshiek898
Bremer676
Henry671
Clinton601
Des Moines591
Boone570
Taylor490
Guthrie463
Cedar461
Clarke450
Benton391
Monroe385
Jones360
Iowa350
Shelby340
Clayton323
Osceola320
Buchanan320
Webster321
Marion310
Hamilton290
Madison271
Fayette260
Cerro Gordo251
Monona240
Cherokee240
Lee240
Winneshiek230
Davis200
Grundy190
Lyon190
Jefferson190
Harrison190
Floyd181
Sac170
Dickinson160
Mills160
Hardin160
Hancock160
Humboldt150
Butler150
Delaware150
Appanoose143
Ida140
Keokuk140
Greene130
Clay130
Howard120
Audubon121
Emmet120
Lucas120
Cass110
Jackson110
Page110
Winnebago110
Franklin100
Pocahontas100
Carroll90
Van Buren90
Kossuth90
Chickasaw80
Adair80
Union70
Adams70
Montgomery60
Mitchell50
Ringgold40
Fremont40
Palo Alto30
Worth30
Calhoun20
Wayne10
Decatur10
Unassigned10
Rochester
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Lingering showers Thursday AM will turn to sunshine by the afternoon
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