The president watches a lot of TV. He watches cable news, especially Fox News, although it’s obvious that only someone who watches a lot of CNN could deny watching it in such specific and lovelorn terms.
Exactly how Trump watches TV has never been clear, although it’s been covered several times. There is the mysterious “Beam TV” streaming system he apparently uses when traveling, although outside of a single mention in The New York Times, it does not appear to exist in a Google-able form. There is the military-administered TV system on Air Force One, which has caused him to fly into a rage upon catching negative coverage about himself several times.
And then there’s the “state-of-the-art Super TiVo” in the White House.
Trump loves TiVo. He has described it several times as “one of the great inventions of all time.” While it is not clear if he means TiVo specifically or the general concept of a DVR, he does always say “TiVo.” And he refers to the system in the White House as a “Super TiVo.”
And so coverage of the TV system in the White House has followed this lead. Here is The New York Times calling it “his ‘Super TiVo,’ a state-of-the-art system that records cable news.” Here is Vanity Fair calling it a “state of the art ‘Super TiVo.’” Here is our sister site Vox picking up on the thread and calling it a “Super TiVo.”
By all accounts, Trump has a “state-of-the-art Super TiVo.” But hey, what’s this from Leslie Stahl’s interview with the president on 60 Minutes last night?
You see that on the table?
That is the DirecTV Genie remote. It costs $4 on Amazon. It is definitely not a TiVo remote, and it is definitely not some custom “state-of-the-art Super TiVo” remote. (You can get a TiVo from DirecTV, but it uses a different remote.)
DirecTV’s Genie multiroom DVR system has been out for several years, but it probably does seem advanced to most people who are walking through the White House. It lets you record five shows at once, store 200 hours of HD video, and watch everything in multiple rooms. You can watch two channels at once side by side, and certain sports channels support something called Mix Channels, which let you watch eight games at once. (DirecTV’s NFL package even has its own custom Mix Channel, but it seems... doubtful that Trump is watching the NFL these days.)
Anyway, why does it matter that Trump’s “state-of-the-art Super TiVo” is actually the same $35-a-month DirecTV package that any American can simply order online? Because it’s a small detail that’s easy to get right, and instead, everyone has gotten it wrong for the sake of the story because it’s a good quote. Every time this happens, I wonder what other small details get mis-covered the same way.
A small detail that’s easy to get right, but instead, everyone gets it wrong
To be clear, hyping up the president’s technology of choice isn’t a partisan phenomenon. The same thing happened with President Obama’s BlackBerry, which was feverishly covered as an “ultra-secure phone” with vendors of weirdo military phones appearing on cable news to pretend they’d sold the president a phone when, in fact, he just had... a BlackBerry 8830. Later, he got an iPad.
Anyway, it appears Trump watches TV like the rest of us. Someone should get him a nicer remote. (And if you know what “Beam TV” is, please let me know.)