In President Donald Trump’s view, perception is always reality. It always has been. He is after all, both figuratively and literately a producer. He was known during the campaign to watch coverage of himself between rallies. Often calling in “the shows” aboard his Boeing 757 when he felt like the media was being unfair or unjust.
Even now, the President has an all-consuming media appetite. Trump knows specific bylines in the papers and when a reporter interviews him, he can recite how the reporter has treated him over the years, even in previous jobs.
According to Axios.com, most mornings Trump flicks on the TV and watches “Morning Joe,” often for long periods of time, sometimes interrupted with texts to the hosts or panelists. After the 6 a.m. hour of “Joe,” he’s often on to “Fox & Friends” by 7 a.m., with a little CNN before or after. He also catches the Sunday shows; especially “Meet the Press.” The shows, as he calls them, often provoke his tweets. The day of our interview with Axios, all of his tweet topics were discussed during the first two hours of “Morning Joe.
If this was not enough, according to “Meet the Press” moderator, Chuck Todd, Trump would even go as far as to replay appearance on Sunday shows like an athlete reviewing game film. “He’s a very visual guy,” Todd said on a Politico podcast. “He thinks this way. And look, it’s an important insight in just understanding him.”
This all leads me to this past weekend’s “Saturday Night Live” skit in which actress Melissa McCarthy spoofed White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer as a gum-chomping, super soaker-wielding dweeb.
To Spicer’s credit, the press secretary’s seems to be taking all this in stride. According to Politico, a person close to Spicer mentioned, “he takes the job seriously but doesn’t take himself that seriously.”
I am personally glad to hear that. It is no secret that President Trump likes those who represent him to look the part. Central casting continues to play a large role in his psyche. After all, it was Spicer himself who was reprimanded by the boss after his initial appearance in the Brady Briefing Room.
Some who know Trump well expressed this concern after the SNL video, “the unflattering send-up by a female comedian was not considered helpful for Spicer’s longevity in the grueling, high-profile job in which he has struggled to strike the right balance between representing an administration that considers the media the “opposition party,” and developing a functional relationship with the press.”
Personally, I hope this will not play into Spicer’s future. Sean has a tough role to play. Being a press secretary at the White House is a daunting task. Playing this role under a President that drives the media himself has to be complicated.
When I was younger, one of funniest characters SNL ever portrayed was Dana Carvey’s impression of President George H.W. Bush. Carvey often stood before the camera mimicking the 41st President’s arm gestures and Texas draw. Tim McBride, who was President Bush’s personal aide, recalled that Bush never had an issue with Carvey or SNL. After he lost the 1992 election, Bush invited Carvey to the White House to raise the spirits of his staff during their annual Christmas party. You can watch the video below. In fact, McBride said it this way, “his (Bush) great sense of humor was not apparent to many Americans while he was in office, even though he was the first to laugh at himself and Dana Carvey’s impersonations of him.”
(Carvey playing George H.W. Bush at the White House https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z851sZXYq5g)
It is no surprise that many in the media and those among the coastal entertainment elites like SNL lean left. The media can be bias and even at times dishonest. Is this fair or right, no. However, when it comes to shows like SNL, I also hope all of us, including the President, can learn to laugh every now and then. Take everything in stride. Mr. Spicer seems to be. We need to. We have important issues that need to be addressed. I hope and pray this President addresses them honestly and in a conservative manner. I also hope we remember that the art of politics is important, but it is not ultimate.
As William Arthur Ward said, “to make mistakes is human; to stumble is commonplace; to be able to laugh at yourself is maturity.”