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Trump takes more meetings with celebrities than he does intelligence briefings

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President-Elect Donald Trump Holds Meetings At Trump Tower Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Donald Trump, who gets intelligence briefings only once per week, reportedly met with rapper Kanye West, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, and retired NFL players Ray Lewis and Jim Brown at Trump Tower in New York City today. Trump also announced his pick for Secretary of Energy this morning — former Texas governor Rick Perry who infamously could not remember the name of this department when saying he would like to get rid of it. Perry also appeared on the fall season of Dancing with the Stars, but was eliminated in the second episode.

Trump appears to be supplementing the typical president-elect schedule — filled with scientists, experts, and politicians — with a large serving of celebrities. The details of these conversations are vague. After meeting with the president-elect, West said on Twitter that he discussed “bullying, supporting teachers, modernizing curriculums, and violence in Chicago.” As of this writing there are no reports of what Vogue editor Anna Wintour talked about with Trump, though she has been in the news lately: she recently apologized for criticizing the president-elect while on a train. Former football players Ray Lewis and Jim Brown were at Trump Tower to discuss gang violence, according to Cleveland pastor Darrell Scott, who was with them. Both men have made statements in the past that fall squarely in line with Republicans’ broad sentiment toward the Black Lives Matter movement: that it should focus not on law enforcement abusing its power to commit violence against black people, but rather on “black-on-black crime.” Last week, Trump also met with actor Leonardo DiCaprio to discuss the environment.

The celebrities Trump chooses to interact with then are no true surprise: Wintour and West are extremely famous and influential people who have been quoted with his name in their mouths very recently. He would have seen the headlines and the tweets. Lewis and Brown share a stance on the Black Lives Matter movement that Trump would likely have seen on the sites that a Buzzfeed data analysis claims he reads most often: Breitbart, New York Post, Twitter, and Facebook. DiCaprio is the famous face of climate change thanks to media coverage of his buzzy documentary and his public persona. Trump said in a meeting with The New York Times last month that he would keep an “open mind” on the issue of climate change, a statement that resulted in a flurry of hopeful attention from journalists and from social media. Now that he’s stacked his cabinet and the EPA with climate change deniers, meeting with DiCaprio looks like just another fake-reversal to generate conversation. And more than anything, Trump loves being the center of conversation.

If attention is what Trump wants, it’s certainly what he’s getting. None of these people are experts in the fields he’s asked them to speak on, but they’re sure bets as far as drumming up news posts. The media is much more eager to cover Trump’s transition activities when they involve celebrities — a simple Google search for “Trump Kanye” will pull up hundreds of news articles from just the last few hours. Perhaps the closest a political meeting has come to the media frenzy of celeb spottings is former Vice President Al Gore, who fittingly will debut a sequel to his climate change documentary at Sundance next month.

Trump recently canceled a press conference scheduled for December 15th, at which he had promised to explain in greater detail how he will counteract the many obvious conflicts of interest between his businesses and the presidency. In explanation he tweeted, “Busy times!” Vox reports that seven media organizations were given the opportunity to ask Trump’s transition team questions this morning and none of them asked why the press conference had been canceled, or whether the public was supposed to take two tweets promising Trump would enter “no new deals” while in office as sufficient clarification: “Instead, a CNN reporter requested more details on Trump’s meeting with rapper and clothing designer Kanye West.”

Trump has chosen to prioritize celebrities over crucial intelligence briefings. It’s not hard to guess why: government work is boring, and it doesn’t make for good TV.