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Is This Weird Graphic of Japanese Investments an Authentic White House Memo? 

Jack Crosbie Oct 19, 2018. 17 comments

On Thursday night, President Donald Trump tweeted out what appears to be a photo of a slightly-crumpled, printed-out graphic showing “Updates of Recent Major Japanese Investment in the U.S.,” which consisted mostly of pictures of things and arrows pointing to states.

I have a lot of questions about the document, which looks very much like it was made in MS Paint, chief among them being where did this come from???

Did... Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe give this to him? Or is this a White House document... is this how Trump gets his memos?

The latter would actually make sense. The Independent ran a report last year detailing all of the weird things administration staffers were doing in order to get our galaxy-brain president to absorb information.

Staff members are being forced to strategically include the President’s name in the reports to ensure that he keeps reading and doesn’t get distracted, they said. National Security Council officials make sure “as many paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he’s mentioned”, they told Reuters.

The trick is part of a range of techniques developed by officials to keep Mr Trump’s infamously short attention span focused on important information.

Officials have also learnt to keep all reports to a single page, and to include as many pictures, maps, charts and graphs as possible.

The President also likes to look at a map of wherever he is reading about, officials said.

This... all checks out. We may be looking at an official White House memo here!

Here is my next question: where the hell are all these numbers from? It sounded dumb to ask that, so I did a lot of Googling and found that most of the numbers do check out, sort of. I found results for Teijin (carbon fiber) breaking ground in South Carolina, although the press release said 220 jobs, not 300. Maybe staffers are rounding up. Kubota Tractors did recently buy land in Ponder, Texas, but per BizJournals, it’s not clear if that that ranch will add any jobs. It has moved a sizeable amount of operations to Texas and has a large executive center planned for Kansas, so there’s no reason to doubt those numbers that I can see (I am not an expert in Kubota Tractors though).

The Panasonic bit is just a photo of a Tesla Model 3 (Tesla nerds correct me if that’s a Model S) and an aerial shot of the Tesla gigafactory, which is indeed in Nevada. There are certainly more than 3,000 people working there, per Electrek in August, but... they don’t all work for Panasonic, most of them work for Tesla, an American company. Electrek notes that those numbers are from a report that covers up to the end of 2017, and should be much higher by now, so sure, we’re in the ballpark.

Essentially, none of these numbers are like, flat out wrong, but they also don’t have a whole lot to do with Trump’s personal accomplishments. Still, they look good in a slick graphic, baby, and he was clearly excited enough to tweet it out there. My favorite part is the wildly different font sizes and colors to accentuate stuff, and also thinking about how much longer this must have taken some junior staffer to like, clip-art together rather than just typing the information on a sheet of paper for an adult to read.

Correction 10:14 A.M 10/19/2018:

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the Tesla Gigafactory was in Arizona. It is in Nevada, which the chart clearly points out.

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