Despite the mainstream media, save Fox, either being openly hostile to Trump or often slanting headlines against him even if the actual reporting is “Just the facts, ma’am,” may be doing Trump favors far more routinely than they understand.
Despite regularly treating Trump with disdain and hostility, the press, particularly newspapers fighting for survival, is in an unholy alliance with him.
During the campaign, cable networks couldn’t get enough of Trump. As Forbes said in December:
Donald Trump wasn’t the only winner of this year’s election. The three major cable news networks earned record profits and attracted record audiences as millions of Americans tuned in to watch the dramatic showdown between Trump and Hillary Clinton…
In November, Fox averaged 3.3 million viewers in primetime, a 68% increase over November 2015. CNN averaged 1.5 million viewers, a 128% increase from last November. MSNBC attracted 1.3 million viewers, a 98% increase. Among daytime viewers, Fox News averaged 2 million audience members, compared to 993,000 for CNN and 736,000 for MSNBC. Year over year, daytime viewership grew by 60% for Fox, 75% for CNN, and a remarkable 83% for MSNBC.
Even though the coverage was routinely unflattering, it was no secret that Trump got the equivalent of billions of dollars in free advertising.
Similarly, the New York Times saw an over ten-times increase in new subscriptions shortly after the election versus the same period in 2015. Other publications made very successful post-election subscription pushes.
The wee problem is that more intensive coverage of Trump is not necessarily as bad for Trump as it appears, particularly given the press fondness for focusing on Trump’s hot-headed reactions to criticism and willingness to make stuff up. Of course, it’s not as if politicians don’t do that occasionally, but Trump does it regularly and clumsily.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the big actions Trump took yesterday.
Trump made nice to the heads of the Big Three automakers. After having boxed their ears on Twitter, he played conciliatory, promising them breaks on emissions regulations and tax goodies if they kept more production in the US. Superficially, this looks like the same sort of government bribing of manufacturers that goes on at the state level, which pretty much never works out to be a net benefit for the state that “won”. But these gimmies are pretty inconsequential. Trump made clear he intends to gut environmental regs in the name of jawbz; he’s trying to position his existing plans as a special bennie to automakers that play ball. As for taxes, the big US car companies already pay very little in the way of Federal income taxes. The one place they might get a break is on taxes resulting from CAFE, as in Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards. Basically, big honker cars built on truck chassis (meaning the biggest SUVs) are subject to high taxes unless they don’t represent too much in the way of total sales. But there are already enough ways for the car companies to game CAFE that they don’t pay meaningful if any CAFE charges either.
However, the MSM will never get this granular, and the optics look bad, unless you are a corporate Republican who was upset that a President dared to browbeat executives.
Trump promised to “get that pipeline built.” He signed executive orders supporting the completion the Keystone pipeline and DAPL. These have become key battles for environmentalists. Mind you, Obama fence-sat on the northern leg of the Keystone pipeline and was silent as NoDAPL protestors were treated brutally by police. His Damascene conversion in the final weeks of his presidency looks an awful lot like resume-burnishing. Nevertheless, Trump’s executive order isn’t dispositive. Trump has at least two routes he could use to push the pipelines through, but environmental groups have vowed legal challenges.
Both pipelines mobilized protestors, and with loathing for Trump looking for an outlet, it’s not hard to imagine that the renewed opposition will be more intense.
Trump imposed new gags on Federal employees. Mind you, George Bush also clamped down on Federal employees. Despite promising more transparency, Obama pursued leakers ferociously and created bizarre procedures, like regularly restricting officials to speak only on background or not for attribution when the contact was officially approved, including small-group briefings. But the Trump measures are draconian to the point of looking paranoid. From Politico:
Those concerns were compounded on Inauguration Day, when the Interior Department ordered a shutdown of all its Twitter accounts after the National Park Service retweeted photos showing a substantially smaller crowd at Trump’s swearing-in than had greeted Obama in 2009. Interior’s Twitter service was restored the next day, but only after the park service deleted the offending tweets and apologized….
At EPA, the lockdown extends well beyond formal coordinated messaging. Aside from a block on any press releases and social media posts, a Monday memo circulated internally and obtained by POLITICO warned that EPA employees scheduled to speak at public events like conferences in the next month must alert Trump’s team of temporary political appointees.
Buzzfeed had a more troubling report, in that the ban snares scientific work too:
The US Department of Agriculture has banned scientists and other employees in its main research division from publicly sharing everything from the summaries of scientific papers to USDA-branded tweets as it starts to adjust to life under the Trump administration, BuzzFeed News has learned.
According to an email sent Monday morning and obtained by BuzzFeed News, the department told staff — including some 2,000 scientists — at the agency’s main in-house research arm, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), to stop communicating with the public about taxpayer-funded work.
“Starting immediately and until further notice, ARS will not release any public-facing documents,” Sharon Drumm, chief of staff for ARS, wrote in a department-wide email shared with BuzzFeed News…
The memo was also met with some confusion. When asked if the notice constituted a halt on the publication of academic articles, one regional director told scientists that research papers could be published in academic journals and presented at conferences, but that all media interviews must be approved by the office of communications in Washington.
Trump plans to sign executive orders tomorrow on immigration. The Washington Post reports that Trump will use an executive order to green-light his infamous wall and punish target “sanctuary cities” where local officials refuse to comply with certain deportation orders. He may also impose a 30-day ban on visa issuance to applicants from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen until more stringent procedures are in place.
Now there’s a lot to be upset about if you are a loyal Democrat or are otherwise regard any of these issues as important are on the anti-Trump side.
But how was the mainstream media reporting on Trump yesterday? Admittedly, this was only one sighting, but major broadcast news have more reach than print or Internet publications, and it was an extreme example of what I believe is a more general syndrome.
By happenstance, I caught the segment of CBS Evening News on the Trump deeds of the day. The lead story was Trump’s barmy claim that he would have won the popular vote had illegal immigrants not been improperly included.
Now admittedly, this story broke Monday evening at around 8:00 PM Eastern so it was still within the last 24 hour news cycle and hence fair game for the Tuesday evening news show. However, it was not only the first story but was also covered in some depth. For instance, the network interviewed a Senator who harrumphed that Trump was calling the integrity of the American electoral system into question and needed to cut it out.
You can watch the segment, but the CBS site gives you an idea of what they thought counted:
And how about all of the actions and policy markers that Trump set down yesterday and the heads up about the immigration hot button items for Wednesday? All a CBS viewer got was a female newscaster in front of the White House describing Trump playing nice with the auto execs after having beaten them up on Twitter, and mentioning the pipeline-related executive orders.
Why is this significant? The coverage of the latest bit of Trump insanity diverted attention from how he is moving forward aggressively with his program. Some troubling developments were left on the cutting room floor and others reviewed in a cursory manner.
Trump’s apparent erraticness may look decidedly unPresidential, but going off the deep end in response to personal insults doesn’t have policy impact. Now Trump may later take action related to some of his rants, and that does bear watching. But on one of his most consistent topics, his hatred of the press, despite his regular browbeating, the idea that a President would attack the media frontally is disturbing, but Trump’s measures so far are no an overreach. For instance, his breaking the White House press corps’ monopoly and letting other outlets get access isn’t a violation of press freedom. And I’m of two minds about the historical practice of past Presidents allowing the press to dog at their heels all the time.
And I hate to have to say this, but the media coverage of during the campaigns was biased against Trump as it was against Sanders. Lambert and I without even looking found multiple occasions where the press misrepresented what Trump said, as anyone could ascertain by checking the full segment on YouTube. Thus while Trump’s overt hostility is childish and guaranteed to make a bad relationship worse, his underlying beef does have some substance.
What Trump’s regular hissy fits do is two things: they make Trump look reckless, even mad, which is a persona that Kissinger advised Nixon to cultivate. They also, as described above, divert press and pundit attention to upset and hand-wringing about Trump’s posturing as opposed to his actions.
To put it more simply: The Constitution did not make emotional immaturity grounds for impeachment. And as Clinton learned the hard way, never fight with a pig. The pig enjoys it and you get dirty.
I am beginning to wonder if Trump, unconsciously or even once in a while consciously, isn’t playing the press and the public. He may figured out how to make his reflexive temper tantrums work for him. His seemingly unhinged remarks of the last few days would play well with a fair portion of his base, such as Republicans who hate the “liberal” media and those who are convinced that the Democratic party organized black and minority voters to cast ballots multiple times. This video argues that Trump’s campaign persona is the same as the one he used in the WWE, and not like his character on The Apprentice:
For instance, despite Trump’s almost predictable overractions to disses, I don’t recall a single time when he responded to repeated media stories about how his campaign was plagued by turnover at the top, lack of clear separation of roles, infighting, and a supposedly fatal lack of a ground game. Trump did nothing publicly to counter the impression that his campaign was an utter mess. And sometimes that was true: Lambert noticed a lack of adequate advance work at some of his rallies.
However, the idea that the Trump team was hopelessly disorganized and underresourced fed into Clinton hubris. It served Trump to let the press run with that assessment.
It was only after the election that the public learned that Trump’s nephew Jared Kushner was running a high tech operation out of Austin that was focused on how to get the maximum bang out of Trump’s smaller warchest in Electoral College terms. And that effort also studied how to make the best use of social media. As one DC contact said, “Political scientists will be studying the Trump campaign for the next 40 years.” Yet the supposedly hopelessly undisciplined Trump managed to keep his mouth shut on this topic and let his opponents’ prejudices work to his advantage.
Whether by virtue of being lucky (and recall Napoleon preferred lucky generals to talented ones) or more design than the pundits are willing to attribute to him, Trump mowed through a huge field of opponents and is getting more and more of the Republican establishment on his side, or at least only selectively opposed. One big test of whether he would quell at least some of his dedicated opponents was the Rex Tillerson nomination for Secretary of State, where Republicans threatened to join Democrats and block a candidate deemed too Russia-friendly. That would have been a highly visible setback, both in terms of proving that Trump was vulnerable, as well as showing he could be defeated in his efforts to improve relations with Russia, which would feed even more resistance on that front.
So again, Trump opponents, beware: underestimating him has proven to be a losing strategy. Fixating on his erratic behavior may be great fun because it confirms how awful he is, but the more time you spend on social media and with friends nattering about that, the more it takes your eye off the stuff you should be fighting.
How do the ratings compared to 2012? Our electoral circus is allways a bigger draw than off years.
I think another thing the media don’t get is that Trump has successfully insulated himself from attacks by making attacks on him represent attacks on his supporters. The more he is attacked, the more defensive his supporters will be and the less likely they are to question his inevitable betrayals. Just as ridiculous attacks by tea party types and their supporters on Obama helped provide him cover to walk back on his promises, the same will apply to Trump, except he is even better at this game than Obama.
The media have a duty (long forgotten of course) to report fairly and critically. Everyone else should focus on what Trump does, not what he says.
Agree. Trump has been very good at getting his supporters to very closely identify themselves with Trump, himself. Ergo, when the media attacks Trump, they feel attacked. And then rush to defend him more.
I’m frankly sick and tired of endless memes about Trump’s latest twitter hoo-hah.
Meanwhile Trump’s been extremely active almost since the second he took his hand off the Bible. Let’s hear much much more about all of his Executive Orders. Those affect me (and all of us) much more directly than some ridiculous twitter thing, which Trump does habitually.
Focus on what he’s doing, not on what he’s bleating.
Newspapers should start a new section, called it “Trump says”, fill it with the latest blatant lie of the day, hide it behind page 10 so as not to give it any notoriety, and just keep reporting on important stuff. That way, at least you are not silent about stupid stuff *and* you avoid giving the clown his daily dose of attention.
Mr. McMahon and Donald Trump’s Battle of the Billionaires Contract Signing
“Say what you want about him being our president, but this, he is funny in this.” the top comment.
The press and most Democrats just spent 8 years focusing on what Obama said and ignoring what he did. Why would they change now?
The 2nd video is gold for that quote alone.
What the media is doing is making his supporters more loyal. I, on a daily bases in a local bar have contact with many Trump supporters. I sit and listen to their discussions. Not a day goes by that the Trump supporters aren’t complaining about the way the press is covering Trump and picking on him.They never look at the facts but simply believe Trump isn’t treated fairly. This makes them even more loyal. They think that what Trump says Trump believes. The Trump supporters actually believe he is keeping his campaign promises of draining the swamp and making America great again.None of them have clue about Trump’s nominations and what they stand for. They actually cheer when FOX plays a tape of Trump complaining or using name calling. They don’t have clue that they were conned. With the way that the media covers Trump his supporters will only continue to increase their support for Trump. They don’t have a clue that most of what he is doing is going to inflict long term harm on them. The media would be better off focusing on policy and not Trump. Trump loves being in the spotlight and the media is playing right into his hands. The only thing I say to Trump supporters is that you reap what you sow and over time the real Trump will surface.
I am so tired of hearing dispatches from bars. Just yesterday I read another account from somebody trying to gauge the sentiment of the Trump voter by visiting two bars in West Virginia. Is every disaffected American a drunk leaning over some dive bar waiting for the next one? How about, at least, the local fast food joint? At least they’ll be relatively sober.
politics and beer have been bedfellows and a real gauge of the public’s sentiment for quite some time. I vaguely remember what turned out the most significant piece of research when Bush II ran against Gore… Who’d you rather have a beer with in a bar? It turned out that Bush was a clear winner on that front. It’s quite distinct from what who you’d think is the more honest of the two and I guess it’s more to do with one’s gift to act natural and be a like a next-door neighbour. Folks could cope better with Bush’s flaws (his alcoholic past, draft dodging, nebulous business past and being a multi-millionaire) than Gore’s flaws (coming across as a fake and would probably bore you to death in the bar about the environment). Then came Tipper’s kiss and the rest was history.
What better place to guage public sentiment? Your workplace/
I do not drink, so I cannot report on bar talk. I believe that the important take-away is that The People are questioning The Party Line and The Official Dispensers (the MSM) of The Line.
Einstein shattered our concept of “reality”, causing consternation among the Newtonians.
I see humanity being herded into one giant, amorphous, mono-cultural “World”. (Globalization) And, funnily enough, it is not Utopia, even for the Elite, who struggle 24/7 with the curse of depravity.
China is choked with smog, and diabetes is skyrocketing. Lucky China etc.
I NEVER wished that my children could be “spoiled brats”. I pitied the children who were, knowing that they would struggle (their “kampf”) emotionally in life. The fact (to me), that the world is mostly being run by grown-up spoiled brats is cause for great concern.
I had NO IDEA that Donald Trump was involved with Big Time Wrestling! That revelation justifies my time reading this site. Yves, the video is priceless. How can anybody in the super-duper serious MSM, Democratic Party and TPTB go into the metaphorical ring (life) with Donald Trump and not come out as ridiculous, sulking, defeated bad guys? They are going to get their heads shaved on TV. Trump is absolutely fearless! AND has a sense of humor. (He plays the straight man!)
I view Trump as a consciousness raiser, the same way Einstein changed our view of reality. And, long after Trump has gone, we will be able to see a rainbow (multitudinous points of view) world, not the mono world being pushed by the Politically Correct Kommissars.
And, no, I do not agree with everything Trump is doing, but….It may be worth it.
“It may be worth it.”
Good lord. The same argument that he took advantage of when building his stupid little casino empire, hand in hand with the Philly mob. “It may be worth it” was the sales con to the people of New Jersey and Antlantic City, because, after all, the place had been the victim of such “carnage” since the fifties, hey, whatdowegottolose? How’d that turn out? And now he’s sitting in the damn catbird street. “Chicago, you suck! Only I can fix it. Besides, I have an investment to protect! My condo tower with those big gold letters!Me!”
Good lord. Sir, are you situated somewhere in our society where you have nothing to lose? Because, trust me, this wrecking ball disaster of a man has the potential of screwing it up for almost anybody in our society. Pretty much, anybody and everybody, including the much hated 1 and .1 percent. Don’t even think he cares what happens to the little people.
Trumps lies are obvious and childish. That doesn’t mean that they are not effective. Or that some of them are certainly profoundly disturbing.
So…is Obama getting a Nobel peace prize a “lie”? Only very objective, and informed people could look at that question, and understand that the security state expansion was aided and abetted by Obama. That it is a systemic lie of neocon and neolibs, that war is peace. And having Hillary to foist the blame on for Libya and sundry other disasters in comparison is the only thing that makes Obama look reasonable.
So to paraphrase the axiom that had come up, “The press takes Obama literally but not seriously, while the people take Obama seriously but not literally”
It was the underestimating the anger of The American People that put him into office, Trump simply seized on it.
Something opponents from all corners refuse or cannot understand, especially the media, which is overwhelmingly Democrat/liberal/far-left. The more they piss off the disenfranchised, the more push back they will get, and the more ground they will lose. The insular liberal cities filled with people that think they know what’s best, and surrounded by the very same to agree with them, think they can impute their will on a middle-America farmer, or a betrayed union worker, just adds to the insult.
The media is NOT far left or even left. Wash your mouth out. It is neoliberal, which is a different kettle of fish, but they’d like to fool you into believing that any further left is the political equivalent of going over the edge of the earth. Go read Listen, Liberal by Thomas Frank for starters to disabuse you of the myths you’ve swallowed.
The media ignored and then attacked Sanders, who not that much to the left of middle of the road Reagan era. A Javits Republican would have been on board with 80% of what Sanders called for. Improving Medicare and Social Security, even if it means raising taxes (although the rich should pay more of them), raising the minimum wage, strengthening environmental regulations, cutting back on military spending, have for decades gotten large majorities or at worst clear pluralities in polls (some polls are designed to suppress support for these positions and survey results are very sensitive to survey design). Another supposedly leftie position, punishing executives who engage in wrongdoing, would clearly get majority support.
The country is well to the left of the pundit class. The idea that the country is right wing on anything other than gunz and social issues is a myth. That is how the elites have kept the peasants divided.
The positions that got Trump votes are not right wing. He in fact moved to the right after he won the nomination to appease the Republican party grandees, which was necessary for him to get access to their campaign infrastructure. He will probably not shift back to the left since catering to the mainstream Republicans suits him and his billionaire buddies just fine and also helps keep the Republicans who hate his guts placated enough to forestall a revolt.
Sanders like Trump recognized the need to get employment up and wages up, including draining the swamp, getting better trade deals, investing in infrastructure. Trump even talked up a minimum wage increase but retreated from that. It is unlikely that Trump was ever sincere, but he did see power lying in the street and recognized what the leverage points were. Sanders’ measures would have done a much better job of delivering. Readers tell me they personally know a lot of young blue collar people who voted for Sanders in the primaries and Trump in the general.
The media is neoliberal, and as Adolph Reed has pointed out, identity politics is the left edge of neoliberalism. They believe as long as the 1% has proper out-group representation, the peasants should be satisfied since they can be told that they have a fair shot at getting to the 1%. Never mind that the 1% is increasingly open to at best the top 10%.
Sanders’ measures would have done a much better job of delivering.
Massively understated, Yves! :-)
Great analysis–also the above post. I for one would like to see more articles on the origins of Trump’s political philosophy if he has one. Did he get all his ideas from Pat Buchanan (who seems mighty pleased with Trump in his recent columns)? People really do need to start taking Trump more seriously instead of trying to pretend all this isn’t happening. Since he has no track record politically or as an office holder there is much we need to know.
I suspect he got most of his ideas from talk radio and it’s bizarre theories. Pat Buchanan maybe as well. Books? No, and stop looking there as he doesn’t read, but who does he listen to on the radio or t.v.?
Take him seriously and then DO WHAT exactly?
Stop obsessing about tweets and other nonsense. WaPo and NYT leads focused on making Trump look bad are crowding out real news.
Canadian political anthropologist Max Forte (more recent piece reposted by Fabius Maximus included in today’s links) has given Trump some serious consideration over the past year or so. This, from his piece “Donald Trump and Empire: An Assessment,” at Zero Anthropology (October 6, 2016) speaks to your question about his “political philosophy if he has one”:
Reading this it suddenly occurred to me that this is part of what has made Trump an electoral success — isn’t it exactly how most people form their political opinions:
(I exclude from “most people,” of course, the Naked Capitalism commentariat, which does indeed seem to read and take the intellectual history of ideologies seriously.)
Thnx 4 the quote and the thoughtful reply. Here’s the take of Raimondo (an antiwar libertarian) on how we should think about Trump.
For those who missed some of this Trump history (in self-promotion etc.),
What Trump Is Throwing Out the Window
by Jessica T. Mathews (NYRB):
Your link is just a summary of what seem to be not terribly interesting books about the FP moment unless one buys into the ‘OMG those America Firsters’ alarm of that great political thinker Philip Roth (sarc). I did know about his 80s newspaper ad.
Admittedly it may be difficult to find philosophical origins for Trump since, as Jeff St. Clair point out, his apartment is completely devoid of books.
Perhaps people’s confusion lies in what Nancy Fraser calls ‘Progressive Neoliberalism’, two words that make awkward bedfellows, but which, I believe, can be easily recognised in some of the mainstream media. People get blinded by the (somewhat) ‘progressive’ part and therefore call it ‘left’, just like they recognise a progressive side in Obama and therefore consider him left-wing. To call it ‘far-left’, otoh, is just an easy way to denounce/condemn it, without actually knowing what it really means.
Thank you, Ives, for putting it so clearly. I am still amazed how after the publication of ‘Manufacturing consent’ or ‘The real terror network’ (OK, somewhat dated regarding their examples but still spot on in their general analysis; ‘communism’ just needs to be replaced with the perceived menace du jour) anybody can still think that American MSM is in any meaningful way described as ‘left’. One only has to look how they treated slightly left of center positions like Sanders’ (Krugman in the NYT comes to mind). The only publication deserving the qualifier ‘left’ (and very readable) is Mother Jones.
My US mother-in-law got me a subscription to MJ a couple of years ago. She too thought it was ‘Left’, so I’d like it. It was – beautifully accurate phrase! – ‘progressive neoliberal’ tripe.
If that is all the left left, then there is nothing left.
Google “Jane Hamsher” and “veal pen”. She described how the Obama Administration went after the left systematically. They would have 8:45 AM calls with leftist publications to give them their talking points for the day. The ones that bucked their orders and opposed the party line would soon find the Administration calling their major backers and telling them to withdraw funding.
That is why the few remaining serious social justice oriented pubs are small donor funded.
I fail to see how exposing ExxonMobil’s financing of anti-climate change junk science (relevant again with one of Trump’s cabinet picks coming from this very company) or reporting about the abysmal state of American prisons (just to name 2 examples) qualifies as neoliberal tripe. Are there that many other American publications where you can read stories like this?
Never forget that “the media” are commercial capitalist enterprises. Like the other capitalists who may have not cared for Trump such as in Silicon Valley and Hollywood, the media are now drafting behind Trump the POTUS, mulling over whether of not to steer their own black-flagged privateer into Trump’s pirate fleet.
The problem that most capitalists have had with Trump, and not just media capitalists, is that he is the one and only True Naked Capitalist. (And Yves may have attained a blogger’s epiphany) Trump shamelessly struts it all out there, his market-driven genitalia wagging in their faces. And as in the parable of the Emperor Without His Clothes, Trump’s class mates point their fingers and gasp, scandalized. But unlike the Emperor, Trump merely replies, “Yeah, that’s right, I’ve got no clothes on. I’m naked. So what?”.
So at last we in the USA will get to experience a real capitalist despot in all his glory. No more of the hypocritical Postwar charade of the capitalist as rational economic social servant “bringing good things to life”. Instead we will get a good dose of government run as a business tyranny. The kind I and, presumably, you, labor under every day.
I say, though, question this first before all other things.
Yves: I am so glad you wrote this. I woke up this morning feeling the same way. Trump manages to send the media off on tangents wasting their time while the significance of what he’s really doing isn’t adequately covered. This happened, again, yesterday and, again, the media focus was on the latest “Trump outrage” rather than the significance of the real news of the day. It’s the equivalent to shouting “squirrel” to your dog, pointing far away, and watching him go off on the chase. Trump keeps shouting “squirrel” and off the media goes.
I agree. I also think the media would rather report on anything other than economic issues or issues of substance – or have been advised by the editorial/owner groups to focus on circus over substance. Sanders’ campaign didn’t even exist in media reporting for a very long time. Neither did the OWS protests and issues. That said, the media seems entranced by circus and disasters of one kind or another. Those don’t require much analysis and the reporting won’t alarm their corporate owners.
People refuse to entertain the reality that Trump is not who he plays on TV. He has a couple of well tested TV personas and I’m pretty sure a half dozen others he’s used over the years in his other lines of business, I’ve seen several.
He has used the iconography of opulence to appeal to serfs the same way the Royal Family does in England, he has used the iconography of business success to appeal to common aspirations, he has used NeoLib Identity Politics to destroy itself on the shoals of its own exclusivism/elitism.
He is deeply and profoundly manipulative, and based on the last year knows what he’s doing better than anyone is prepared to credit him for.
I think he will mostly be disasterous, but he won’t be defeated at the juvenile level to which he’s managed to lower the discourse. He is now beginning to DO THINGS, focus on that!
A fine article. We shall see if the Democratic (I did not say ‘liberal’) press wises up. On the other hand, I listened to TV news last night…I do not do this all the time…and to some extent they were still bloviating about attendance at the inauguration.
>>I am beginning to wonder if Trump, unconsciously or even once in a while consciously, isn’t playing the press and the public.
Scott Adams, long ago in 2015, deemed Trump a ‘clown genius.’
Pundits mocked Adams’ commentary and his Trump victory prediction, as he’s a mere cartoonist.
Thank you for the link. I think a person has to trash a lot of her own beliefs about why people do things to really understand this man. Trump is in a different world from ours but he makes his reality ours. Ingenious! We are not “normalizing” him; he is normalizing us!
great link, thank you oho.
how genius do you have to be if the press is complicit in not covering issues. I suspect they kinda are …
As an additional point, I would note that media gravitates toward “he said, she said” and so is reflexively looking to “the opposition group” for a quote.
This makes the lack of organization of any “Bernie faction” within the Dem party more acute.
Indeed, Bernie himself has been muted to a degree by putting him on Schumer’s communication team (along with a bunch of Blue Dogs).
We need a visible organization whose mission is to speak for peace and economic fairness, and whose short-term goal is to run Dem primary challengers in Federal elections, and to develop a Progressive farm team at state electoral level.
Not only is there no such organization, I am not aware of any person or groups talking about banding together to form such an organization.
Without such a group to answer press calls, the “official” spokesman for the anti-Trump position is Schumer — architect of. 25 years of selecting moderate Republicans to run as Democrats in purple states (and collecting funds for their election).
And so there is no official voice for Dem populism.
Never underestimate someone who is willing to make a fool of himself.
The election is over. Trump clearly understands this and is issuing ex. orders like a machine gun. So how about some serious economic analysis which you are uniquely capable of, sans ideology!
Agreed. Enough with the Hillary/Obama neoliberal bashing. They lost, fine, now let’s get on with it. And let’s stop bashing the press. Like it or not, we need them right now to go toe to toe with these nasty mofos in the west wing who, it seems, have a number one priority of shutting them down so they can get on with their work of turning this country into the white, Christian heaven they’ve always imagined in their little brains. I know, I know, they’re detached from the anger, they only hear the language of the upper class liberals, but, imagine a life without them if Trump succeeds in neutralizing them. Sorry, they’re all we’ve got right now. And, yeah, I think that a President of the United States basically telling the country that our electoral process is corrupted and therefore invalid is quite the news story, and should be covered, over and over, because if that notion is “normalized”, than we’re really screwed.
He’s not that smart and calculating. He’s nuts, and a child. Don’t give him so much credit.
Ptup, I suggest you read oho’s link. Tells you right there what is going on and, when you think about it, it makes more sense than anything else I have heard about Trump.
Yeah, I’ve read his stuff. Sounds like someone doing the runaround telling me the Trump “supporter”, or the Trump dupe, is an idiot who can be taken with so called brilliant sales techniques. In other words, a rube. Doesn’t paint a pretty picture of both the salesman and the sale victim. Sad to think this is what it’s all come to. Sure, that’s politics, we’ve all been conned all our lives by these people, but, with this guy, we know he’s a total screw up that’s convinced the American public he’s a smart businessman, which is such a shame, coming from a lifetime New Yorker who’s watched this guy with disgust all his adult life. I find it all so depressing that this boy screwup is where he is today, and some people have to come off their high horses with their I told you so sneering and start to fight this crap daily, or we’re really in trouble soon, probably as soon as he finds a handy excuse to declare Marshall law, like what he’s hinting at in Chicago in one of his damn tweets. Enough already.
When you unplug from the LibDems, I’ll stop bashing them and their media. They’re all capitalists.
Yep, this is the real danger.
A new article, “Nothing is Real: When Reality TV Programming Masquerades as Politics” by Newsbud.com’s contributing editor John B. Whitehead, explores further:
Distractions, “entertainment” and “infotainment” prevent us from taking the lead in creating our lives.
Please never leave the lying press alone. Who guards the guards themselves is the question of the day. Without Yves and Lambert on this beat, we would be left to read HP and WaPo and, heaven help us all, The New Yorker–wherein a recent article on plutocrat prepping is a garden of earthly delights for Team Guillotine.
Whether Trump is smart or nuts is at least a better conundrum than whether he is stupid or lying, which is what everyone since Nixon has presented us with. We all know he’s lying–everyone in politics is lying all the time, because “What is truth?”; and they are ignorant, we all know that, too, because data are infinite. Me, I think it is a deliberate strategy to delegitimize (big word these days) the chattering classes. He is flooding what little signal remains in the establishment media with reflected noise of their own making. Mohammad Ali: bob and weave, dance and feint, and at the end, the frantic opponent has beaten himself to the floor.
Good post, thanks Yves.
I have trained myself to ignore the noise and focus on what’s actually being done; for example, I’d caught all the stories you noted and recognized their significance.
But doing so takes serious time – in addition to this site, I check about 10 other sites every day, and that’s on a light-news day without my doing in-depth reading.
This morning I got up, logged on and did my usual round of sites, and then I said, “Okay, I need a day off.” I was overwhelmed by all that’s being signed off on.
The MSM is to some extent still covering the President the way they were when he was a candidate – this is a mistake imho. I’m interested in in-depth reporting and policy discussion, but this takes time, too, and sometimes it’s just easier to follow the twitterstorms. But that’s not the job of reporters; theirs is to offer in-depth reporting and policy discussion in a form non-experts – voters – can understand. That’s hard, but hey, it’s what they theoretically signed up for when they chose their profession.
One more thing: in addition to following what the President’s signing off on (a slew of EOs, at present), I wish the MSM would also follow what else is going on in terms of push-back and potential problems – the emoluments clause lawsuit, the Aetna-Humana merger scandal (wow, that judge), and – the one I’m following – the lawsuit filed on Jan. 11 against the USG on behalf of Native American schoolchildren. I’m reading the complaint, and this will be a landmark case, just at the moment we have a new Sec of Interior (the lead Defendant). My sense as a decades-long news junkie is that there are a lot more lawsuits waiting in the wings for filing, and I’m just wondering whether some of the push-back won’t be waged through the court system instead of in Congress. The loyal opposition, at least in legal corridors, hasn’t been wringing their hands the last two months. Just a hypothesis for now.
I’ve decided to only follow two areas in depth, one chosen for professional reasons, and the other due to personal interest and the fact that one of my Senators is the ranking minority member on the committee that oversees that area. Even humble citizens need to strategize a bit about priorities now.
Who else tells the truth, backed up with facts, references, objectivity? NC remains a beacon and a must-read, so tell your friends to tell their friends to read it.
Which other outlets, blogs or other media presentations do NC readers believe may qualify for that?
And send them money, too. By Grabthar’s Hammer, what a deal!
If the media, Hollywood, the climatistas, late-night Trump-bashers and other members of the hate Trump mob keep it up they will eventually face a 9 to 0 Supreme Court for, just as surely as the Electoral College is here to stay, non-liberals will control the White House for decades.
I mean the “fraud” thing is quickly becoming a policy issue. They are now talking investigations and reforming voter fraud. This is going to be used to disenfranchise a lot of people. And it’s a huge farce.
Yesterday was extremely scary in terms of how any of this is going to be combated because whatever opposition exists just looks so freaking ineffective. Police will steamroll pipeline protesters violently and media won’t cover and if they do it will immediately be jammed into a R vs D framework. Government agencies will become even more private/corporate by being gagged. R’s will secure even more outsized power by kick people off voter rolls and there won’t be any internal dissent within their ranks.
Killing TPP was nice but I don’t see how any of these little bright spots are going to stand up to the compounding effects of all the other harmful actions.
TPP (and TISA) will come right back once that “They” realize that TTP et. al. would have been a good conduit for spreading the corporation driven dry-rot to the competition in Europe and other places.
Good summary. While the media focus on the obvious, they miss the sleight of hand, which is where the real action is.
So today… Huff Post is calling out Trump for insisting that illegal voters swayed the popular vote. This ties in to the Republican plan to disenfranchise voters. Let’s fast forward a few years after more *successful* efforts to remove legitimate voters. (Which Democrats won’t do anything to stop.) Removing a couple of million from the roles shouldn’t be too hard. Then when Trump *wins* reelection he can then say: “See! Told you so! As soon as we removed the illegals from the rolls – I win the popular vote too!”
I agree. Unfortunately, the Dems undercut their own argument about objectivity. Hard to not see this in part as an “in your face” from Trump to the Dems who cried voter fraud in swing states, Russia interference, attempts to suborn electors, the Stein recount, yada yada. Sauce for goose, sauce for gander.
Yes, pushing more voter id laws is a really bad idea, but the Dems cried wolf about voter fraud so loudly so long without any real evidence that they don’t have a lot to stand on now to argue their wasn’t voter fraud. They spent the past 6 weeks building the very climate for Trump to push voter id/ voter suppression laws. It’s cringe worthy to hear them say (The Newhour tonight) that there was NO voter fraud, except for the Russian interference. sheesh…..
Trump is playing with fire. I believe his wild tweets and remarks are designed to distract, but also, serve other roles. As many have stated, they serve to draw out who his true supporters are vs enemies. If he blatantly lies then those who point it out and make a big deal of it are his enemies. But scariest of all is that he is steadily feeding us insanity so that we will slowly get inoculated to it. When blatant lies turn to mere distortions and exaggerations we will start to take him seriously. His extreme positions will start to appear rational and moderate. And after we get worn out knocking down his daily lies he will be able to lie with impunity because we will be desensitized to it all.
I don’t know what to do. If we call him out on each and every lie we get distracted. If we ignore them then we literally let him get away with lies. There are too many lies to attack all at once. Take the issue of the wall. The whole premise is based on disinformation. That immigration is a horrible problem, that there is not enough wall already in place, that walls will even work, that we can adequately staff it and so on. Just debunking his BS on that issue alone takes up most of each person’s cognitive capacity. Or how about trade? Where do you start with the internal contradictions his ideas contain, or for the fact that his ideas are rejected by most Republicans and Economists, or that TPP is mostly about intellectual property rights and other things that have nothing to do with protectionism? The mainstream media still hasn’t covered any of that to any adequate degree.
We have to use lying/disinformation triage when approaching Trump. But the fact that we need to use emergency procedures just to understand our President and Congress is startling. Our mainstream media is not up to the job and the internet, while it can cover it all, does not filter out the priority news very well. The internet amplifies the sugar-coated stories and we consume it. Trump understands how that cycle works better than most and until we figure out how to produce and consume information in a healthier way he will have his cake and eat it too.
Trump’s a wily warrior. He knows that the press is relentlessly hostile to him, and he also knows how to turn their hostility to his own advantage, judo-like. The more the press indulge in pointless personal attacks, or spread obviously bogus “fake news” about him, the more they discredit themselves, not Trump. Meanwhile, people respect Trump because they see that he fights back; they see that Trump is doing what they themselves never could do, and so they live vicariously through him.
Listen, I know HRC and the DNC are not liked here. I can’t stand her and what she stands for either, but, please, please, people, this guy is NOT a good alternative. Here, here’s just a few low hanging pieces of fruit from that poisonous tree that represents that foul man’s history. Just, you know, to gauge this man’s character. First, the Central Park 5. Remember that? Over twenty five years ago, so, we can safely assume, this was no “wily” campaign tactic by the orange headed fool. He took out full page ads in all four NYC dailies, essentially, calling for a lynching of these five innocent black men by calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty in NY. If it was Georgia in the thirties, the lynching would have happened, I’m sure. He has never apologized for this action, and attempted to justify it durin his campaign this summer. Second, the birther thing. Much more recent, but, doubtful he was considering this presidential run at the time – he’s way too impulsive and ADD. A very public and overt act of racism combined with his penchant for believing conspiracy theories. He never apologized for that, either, and, once, just once, this summer, said that it wasn’t true.
Now, this is the man who should be President?? You’re white, of course, right? Safely ensconced in some little white world with white police officers protecting you, right? Of course you are.
Wily warrior, my ass. This man is a dangerous bigot who is only concerned with himself, and is now commander of the most powerful military in the world and the nation’s police forces. Think about that, please.
Saying he is a wily warrior is NOT endorsing him. Hes going to be a terrible president. But to think that he is an idiot is silly. Trump is a very cunning man. Underestimate him at your own peril. Over a dozen republican presidential hopefuls and Hillary Clinton have already made that mistake. Hes probably the most wily and cunning son of a bitch since Tricky Dick Nixon. And we all know how THAT presidency went…
He is an idiot. He’s not cunning, he’s not wily, he’s deluded, a madman. How in the hell did this happen? And how is it that so many supposedly smart people insist on talking about him as some sort of calculating genius. For gods sake.
Here. Did you catch the ABC interview? Here is an exchange about the CIA speech. Did you see the speech? I did. I was flabbergasted. But, this is just off the charts:
DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, I just have one more question on this. And it’s — it’s bigger picture. You took some heat after your visit to the CIA in front of that hallowed wall, 117 stars — of those lost at the CIA. You talked about other things. But you also talked about crowd size at the inauguration, about the size of your rallies, about covers on Time magazine. And I just wanna ask you when does all of that matter just a little less? When do you let it roll off your back now that you’re the president?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: OK, so I’m glad you asked. So, I went to the CIA, my first step. I have great respect for the people in intelligence and CIA. I’m — I don’t have a lot of respect for, in particular one of the leaders. But that’s okay. But I have a lot of respect for the people in the CIA.
That speech was a home run. That speech, if you look at Fox, OK, I’ll mention you — we see what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming and — and they were all CIA. There was — somebody was asking Sean — “Well, were they Trump people that were put–” we don’t have Trump people. They were CIA people.
That location was given to me. Mike Pence went up before me, paid great homage to the wall. I then went up, paid great homage to the wall. I then spoke to the crowd. I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl and they said it was equal. I got a standing ovation. It lasted for a long period of time. What you do is take — take out your tape — you probably ran it live. I know when I do good speeches. I know when I do bad speeches. That speech was a total home run. They loved it. I could’ve …
PRESIDENT TRUMP: … gotten …
DAVID MUIR: You would give the same speech if you went back …
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Absolutely.
DAVID MUIR: … in front of that wall?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: People loved it. They loved it. They gave me a standing ovation for a long period of time. They never even sat down, most of them, during the speech. There was love in the room. You and other networks covered it very inaccurately. I hate to say this to you and you probably won’t put it on but turn on Fox and see how it was covered. And see how people respond to that speech.
That speech was a good speech. And you and a couple of other networks tried to downplay that speech. And it was very, very unfortunate that you did. The people of the CIA loved the speech. If I was going to take a vote in that room, there were, like, 300, 350 people, over 1,000 wanted to be there but they couldn’t. They were all CIA people. I would say I would’ve gotten 350 to nothing in that room. That’s what the vote would’ve been. That speech was a big hit, a big success — success. And then I came back and I watched you on television and a couple of others.”
Ok. Now, I’m 64 years old, not very smart., but, smart enough to know that that is talk from a man who is deranged. For the life of me, I don’t see any other purpose of all that rambling than just weird, crazy childish bragging. It’s crazy. It’s not cunning. It’s nuts. And here we are, having to deal with this for four years. It’s quite depressing. But, please, don’t call him smart. Just, please.
Idiot Savant then? That would work too!
I think, this knack Trump has of cloaking himself, the hiding of his true intentions and perhaps even his real personality, assuming that he actually has one that is not a mask crafted for a specific purpose*, makes Donald Trump a much more capable, tougher, and maybe even a truly dangerous person.
Overall, I am beginning to get a very bad vibe from all of this “organized disorganization”, all these slips, that somehow juuust always works out right. Twitches some sense like smell.
Maybe someone really cooked up a Strong AI (or even summoned something).
My consolation so far is that Hillary would have started a war with Russia to look good on her “resume”.
I knew someone like that once, the finest, generous, most funniest guy ever. Always just fitting in and doing exactly “the right thing” for the scene / moment. Always hot women around him. Except … “he” wasn’t really “in there” and whatever was renting the place in his head could probably kill someone and not even remember it. He is a CEx now, of course. For all we know, Trump could be like that guy too, like a fish in the water moving in concert within any crowd and then leading it along. *That* would be *really* scary.
It’s perhaps significant (at least interesting) that he’s one of three presidents who have effectively exploited new communications technologies: Roosevelt (radio), Kennedy (television) and Trump (social internet). They could go rogue because there was a way to take their message directly to the American people which had not yet been preempted. These direct channels provided the independent popular support essential for undercutting the dominant paradigm and policies.
An elite coup was attempted (and hushed up) against Roosevelt, and Kennedy was assassinated, with arguments still continuing over which and how many offended elites were actually involved. For good or ill, Trump’s actions have already revealed an unusual personality trait: he is showing exceptional bravery in opposing the current elite agenda. (Credit to Gilbert Doctorow, the only columnist I’ve heard who has made this observation.)
DT seems more like a man exhibiting the symptoms of a serious Personality Disorder which is perhaps why so many women marched. We recognize the cray. His behavior is that of a guy who can’t take no for an answer, can’t take criticism, lives in an alternate reality, tells whoppers, is jealous, believes he’s ‘God’s Gift to women’ and can’t keep it in his pants. A normal man – just doesn’t play like this – but a guy who behaves just like DT goes in for the kill, sometimes literally, at even the slightest dis. Sometimes women ‘just know’ and those who would support a man like this usually end up being hurt and discarded, so watch out KAC. Policy aside.
In one fell swoop Donald Trump has taken the rug of hypocrisy off the feet of the U.S. media establishment- do remember if you please that 98 out of the top 100 U.S. print newspapers endorsed his opponent- by winning the last election. Sure the media while licking its wounds of humiliation of having been proved completely inconsequential by the results must adopt a civilized course and accept the results! The continuing anti-Trump ranting by the media proves more and more with each passing day that for its professed understanding of the nature of the reality in which the election took place continues to be incorrect. Let us see, my feeling is that in a short time the vituperative hissing of the media snakes will turn into a curving long queue of favour- seekers from the Trump administration! What the election result and the subsequent reaction to it of the media even in a post-information literate society throws light on is the possibility of describing the world essentially as a savage place and the only manner a semblance of order may be brought to the rawness of that world is by the use of bad technology and bad grammar in public conversations, heavily punctuated by vulgarities.
“I am beginning to wonder if Trump, unconsciously or even once in a while consciously, isn’t playing the press and the public.”
Beginning? Trump has been gaslighting the public and press for years — and this tactic has a long history among authoritarians. By politicizing the trivial the important issues become harder to distinguish from the trivialities.
Excellent article. Trump is a showman and a conman. His artifice is perfectly suited to his position as president, much to the surprise of the liberal world. I have found however plenty of articles on what he is actually doing as oppose to saying. TV media won’t do it alone. People have to read beyond the headlines. But yes generally agree the media is getting lost in the sh&tstorm.