In his monologue at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, Hasan Minhaj lobbied a pretty loaded joke in the direction of President Donald Trump. The joke, which said that because the president doesn't drink, everything he says, does, and tweets (yes, even at 3 a.m.) is stuff he really, actually, truly believes. So why doesn't Donald Trump drink? Minhaj's joke suggests that the president isn't a drinker, but there's more to the story than just a laugh.
In an interview filmed for Fox News in September of 2016, Trump candidly talked about his brother, Freddy, who died in 1981 at just 42 years old. Though Trump never said that his brother died from alcoholism, he implies that Freddy's reliance on alcohol and his addiction to drinking played a role in his untimely death. Talking to TMZ founder Harvey Levin, Trump said that his brother Freddy would tell him, "Don't ever drink. Don't ever drink," and it seems like the advice truly struck a chord with the president.
Of course, it's absolutely no one's business whether or not the president drinks and what his reasons for (or against) drinking might be. Because the president is a public figure occupying the most important position in the United States, he definitely has forgone the right to privacy in many ways, but it's absolutely understandable if this was one piece of his life he didn't (or wouldn't) publicly comment on. (Beyond that, the media has had no reason to suspect that the president is impaired by substances or has a history of substance abuse.)
However, the fact that president was candid about his relationship with his brother and his early death speaks volumes about what he's willing and comfortable sharing. And in this case specifically, it's an important distinction to make.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, an estimated 88,009 people die each year from alcohol-related causes. By talking about his relationship with his brother, Trump could help reduce the stigma for people either suffering from alcoholism or people who are (and have been) in recovery. In a culture often accused of glamorizing drinking to excess, being open and honest about his decision not to drink would make major headway for changing the conversation. However, we don't know at this point if Trump's decision not to drink rests solely on his upbringing and his relationship to his brother.
Freddy's warning could have changed the way Trump felt about drinking, or maybe he just chose not to drink anyway because of his own personal interests. Of course, Minhaj mentioned Trump not drinking as a humorous segue into talking about president's never-ending tweeting, but the fact that he abstains from drinking sends a major message.