Frankly, one of the most amusing parts of the Trump presidency at this point is watching him completely PWN the mainstream media. With 140 characters or a tiny ad lib in a speech he has complete control of “the story.” Critics of his approach may make accusations of a lack of discipline or hot temper. That may or may not be true, but regardless that it is also much, much more.
People – by which I mean the Press – seem to forget that Donald Trump is not a politician. He is not going to act like a politician. They are not considering what he is. He is a high profile developer who has spent decades having his projects and personal life under media knives scrutiny. He is owner of Miss USA and all the media scrutiny that has gotten. Most important, he is the man that helped define the genre of reality TV.
In short, Donald Trump is a media mastermind.
I suspect, as part of the above, he is also a keen observer of the media and how they have functioned historically. His success in the above could hardly occur without that. And this, more than anything else is the explanation behind his use of social media and attacks on the mainstream press.
Nixon. Ford. Reagan. Bush #1. Bush #2. He’s seen how the press treats Republican presidents. He’s also seen all the things that these same reporters let slide during Democrat administrations. Based on nearly 40 years of history only a fool would expect fair treatment of Trmp. When the New York Times is publishing op-eds above the fold calling on the press to take Trump down, it’s pretty clear that there will not be any getting along with them. The tone set by the press is that their job is to take him down, not to hold him accountable.
President Trump has taken his weakness and turned it into a strength. If the entire press corp is going to jump like rabid gerbils on every little jibe that Trump throws their way, then Trump has already won the battle with the press. Trump’s entire public persona is crafted around his bombast and snark. This kind of rabid press is not going to hurt him.
It will, however, make a media that the public already does not trust or respect look like fools. At best it will reinforce the prevailing low opinion. I predict the more likely result will be to destroy any remaining credibility that the institutional press has. These reporters have enjoyed touting Trump’s low approval in the 30s according to a CNN poll (though I noticed they ignored the Rasmussen one putting him at 56%). They seem to forget that press approval is only in the teens. By latching on to stories that don’t matter beyond simply attacking Trump because he is president, they are on a short road to irrelevance.
This brings up the other huge benefit for Trump’s approach. By press attacks on every irrelevance Trump utters, there is no credibility on their challenges on Trump’s actions to implement the agenda on which he campaigned. If you happen to be aware of his actions since the inauguration, it is clear he intends to actually carry through on his campaign promises.
Consider the media meltdown on attendance at the inauguration. That was the central story all weekend and into this morning’s (Monday) talk. At the same time, Trump has actually begun the dismantling of Obamacare, repaired the relationship between the rank-and-file intelligence community, frozen government hiring, pulled out of the TPP, and begun the process of dismantling federal regulations that have choked small business for years. What little (commonly negative) is reported on these has typically been wrapped in the same stories expressing press outrage at Trump’s other comments.
Like it or not, the advantage is strongly in Trump’s favor and he is simply giving a willing press all the rope it needs to hang itself.