President-elect Donald Trump called the media to a meeting they expected to be what I heard called a “Kumbaya,” and once there, he lambasted them for their clear bias.
Many who thought Trump had become a different person since adding the “President-elect” title to his name believed he just set himself up for four years of hell. That’s not Trump’s plan. He sees the media as his frenemy, and only plays on offense with them. It’s been his pattern and practice for three decades. When reporters write things Trump doesn’t like, he berates them; he sues them; he gets them fired. It’s what he does.
Now he’s moved beyond individual reporters and put the media chiefs on notice that he expects them to cover him in a balanced way, and if they don’t there will be consequences. They’d be wise to believe him, but it probably won’t change their minds.
Trump knows he generates ratings for the news networks, and he knows how to spin rumors, plant stories, and then cause the networks embarrassment when those stories backfire. That’s his plan to defeat them.
The Trump administration will be an enigma to the media because the incoming president isn’t loading up his White House staff with cronies and media darlings. Trump is almost daring the media to hit him with their best shots. If Hillary Clinton’s and the DNC’s opposition files couldn’t sink him during the campaign, the media has nothing new. So they conduct every interview with the same ten questions.
Incoming Chief of Staff Reince Priebus pressed that point on The O’Reilly Factor Tuesday night. How many times will Trump and his senior staff have to face the same questions about Richard B. Spencer and 200 attendees of the white nationalist National Policy Institute because they shouted “Hail Trump” at their meeting? It seems like the media is in a story loop because they don’t have anything new to ask.
When America elected Trump, we all knew what we were getting. We can only hope, as president, that Trump will do some of the things he promised. My highest expectation is that Trump will actually govern and not simply preen. I am encouraged by some of what I have seen. I am discouraged by some other things (such as Trump’s insistence that there’s no problem asking a foreign head of state to grease the rails for one of his hotels).
But as for Trump versus the media, my bet is on Trump. He’s had them all out there steppin’ and fetchin’ like their heads were on fire and their–ahem–were catchin’ for over a year. I have literally run out of metaphors for Trump’s media savvy: he’s the Yoda, the Bruce Lee, the Magnus Carlsen, of media spin.
Trump has declared war on the main stream media, and he is going to go at them with hammer and tongs until he wins. By the end of his four years, either Trump will be impeached and convicted, or the media will be addressing him with the flowery decorum due him out of fear.
It is not a trashing of the First Amendment to use these talents to make the press report in a less biased manner. as long as Trump isn’t using the levers of government to restrict them. Trump’s strategy to win will do nothing of the sort–I don’t believe it would even occur to Trump to do it that way. He will win by using their lust for ratings, money, and relevance against them.
The president-elect knows their key weakness, and he will mercilessly attack there until he wins. If he pulls it off, he just might deserve that fifth face on Mount Rushmore.