I’d be the last person to question the literacy of a president–under normal circumstances. But, in the Trump era, nothing seems too outrageous. Frankly, evidence suggesting that the president may have literacy issues is piling up.

This is not a fly-by-night, conspiracy theory concern, i.e. as Obama’s citizenship. In the July 30, 2016 issue of The Times of Israel, Michael Jaffe bluntly titled his article “Does Donald Trump have a literacy problem?” Jaffe said, “Almost all of the words he utters are no more than two syllables. Given his authoritarian, narcissistic personality and thin skin, one can imagine a collective reluctance among his entourage to set Trump straight. … This and Trump’s difficulty with stringing sentences together might be an indication that Donald Trump’s language faculty, more specifically his literacy, may be lacking.”

In The Daily Beast, Matt Wilstein headlined his article “Samantha Bee Is Convinced Donald Trump Can’t Read.” Wilstein pointed out that Canadian political commentator Samantha Bee (host of Full Frontal) has “produced significant evidence…that Donald Trump may be, in fact, illiterate.”

Bee said in a recent segment, “[I] began by reviewing tape of a recently unsealed deposition in which Trump was repeatedly asked to read from legal documents and refused, first saying he didn’t have his glasses and then using the excuse that he’s not a lawyer.”

Bee continued, “How can you expect someone who isn’t a fancy-pants lawyer to read words? At first, I thought Trump was lying, but then it hit me…You heard it here first: People are saying Donald Trump can’t read.”


Wilstein continued: “Over the next six minutes, she [Bee] meticulously laid out the evidence, including the fact that the only book title Trump can recall when people ask him what he’s read recently is All Quiet on the Western Front and his unnerving practice of shouting things he wants to tweet at his staffers during the day. Even his signature is suspiciously missing recognizable letters.”

In the Washington Post (July 17, 2016), Marc Fisher wrote, “As he has prepared to be named the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump has not read any biographies of presidents. He said he would like to someday. He has no time to read, he said: ‘I never have. I’m always busy doing a lot. Now I’m more busy [sic], I guess, than ever before.'”

Alex Shepherd wrote in The New Republic, “Donald Trump doesn’t read books.” He points out that following an interview with Megyn Kelly, Kelly sensed “that Trump may not have read a book since sixth grade.”


Politico’s Jack Shafer has similar concerns. He says “Donald Trump Talks Like a Third-Grader.” In an August 13, 2015 article, he pointed out, “Run through the Flesch-Kincaid grade-level test, [Trump’s] text of [debate] responses score at the 4th-grade reading level.”

Shafter concluded, “…Trump’s verbal deficit, as grating as it may be on the ears of the educated class, has not caused him much political pain.”

No one appears, according to my research, to have seen President Trump privately reading a legal brief, the President’s Daily Brief (PDB), a document, or a book. Not even a magazine! I don’t ever recall seeing him wearing glasses either. It is strange, isn’t it?


[L. Milton Hankins, the publisher and editor of Columnist with a View writes a weekly column for the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch.  This article first appeared in the March 13th edition of the Herald-Dispatch.  Hankins can be reached at:  amsmilt@windstream.net.  Comments on articles are also welcome in the webzine.  Those who have editorial-opinion type pieces they would like considered for publication in Columnist with a View may submit them to amsmilt@windstream.net or send hard copy to P.O. Box 913, Ashland, KY 41101.]