CNN’s Chris Cillizza claims it is impossible for Donald Trump to have read Bob Woodward’s Rage in one night:
Trump: “Well, because I assumed he was a little bit fair. I didn’t do it previously, he only writes bad books. And I actually got to read it last night, I read it very quickly and it was very boring. But there was not much in that book. … That’s a boring book.”
OK, so Trump read the entire book on his flight from Arizona to DC? (He spent all night after his Arizona event on the plane, arriving back at the White House shortly before midnight.) That claim virtually screams for a closer look.
Let’s start with what we know about Trump’s trip on Monday night.
According to White House pool reports, Air Force One left Arizona at 5 p.m. local time, which means it was 8 p.m. back on the East Coast. Trump landed at Andrews Air Force base at 11:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
So, that’s about three and a half hours of travel time. The Woodward book, according to Amazon, is 480 pages long.
A bit of back-of-the-envelope math produces this: Trump would have had to read, roughly, 2.2 pages a minute in order to finish the whole book on the flight. That’s less than 30 seconds per page.
Which is very fast! The average reader (someone who reads 300 word per minute) takes about 1.7 minutes to read a book page, while a fast reader (450 words per minute) just over 1 minute.
In order then for Trump to have actually read the whole book, he would need to have read more than twice as fast as a fast reader, consuming 900 words or more every minute.
And when I say every minute, I mean every minute. As in, all 210 minutes it took him to fly from Arizona to DC. No staring out the window for five minutes. No naps. No checking his phone. No tweeting. (According to his timeline, Trump or his staff sent 12 tweets or retweets while on the flight back to DC.) No nothing — except reading 900 words a minute.
Cillizza must neither be a fast nor voracious reader, for he wrongly assumes that the only way to read a book is to read every single word on every single page. I could easily read Rage in one night if I had sufficient interest in it.
Now I get it, Trump’s a notorious non-reader. But he’s still a smart guy, and it’s not like Bob Woodward’s book is heavy-duty philosophy or theology. It doesn’t take a ton of time to read the important parts of most books nowadays.