Trump takes a media victory lap after soundly defeating 'the enemy of the people'

Donald Trump Kanye West

  • President Donald Trump opened up to the press four different times on Thursday in what looked like a victory lap, soundly defeating his critics and opponents both in the media and in politics. 
  • The New York Times and ProPublica have published credible, damning reports on Trump that represent excellent feats of journalism. But Trump still decidedly controls the narrative. 
  • Trump now appears to be having fun while acts of great journalism fail to do him any apparent harm. 

President Donald Trump opened up to the press four different times on Thursday in what looked like a victory lap over his defeated critics and opponents both in the media and in politics. 

„I think he’s having a lot of fun right now,“ former Trump campaign adviser Barry Bennett told the Associated Press of Trump’s wild Thursday.

Just over a week after the New York Times dropped an epic feat of journalism examining more than 100,000 documents over decades and piecing together a comprehensive indictment of Trump as a tax fraud and a business failure, Trump hosted Kanye West for an expletive-laced soliloquy in the Oval Office which dominated headlines.

Days after ProPublica published a throughly well-reported story about shadowy, unethical deals allegedly undertaken by Trump to enrich his Casino magnate friend Sheldon Adelson, Trump called into Fox News‘ „Fox & Friends“ to deliver a 47-minute rant. 

Trump has declared journalists „the enemy of the people,“ much to the horror of the press.

But with the ever-quickening news cycle forgetting, if not forgiving, Trump’s past with every new presidential tweet, Trump has proven he doesn’t need journalists and can beat them at their own game.

Trump has become increasingly chatty with reporters, inviting them to watch the Kavanaugh confirmation vote, having New York Magazine sit down with him for a bizarre interview at the Resolute Desk, and holding more press conferences in the past month than in the previous year, Axios notes. 

Recently even Fox News, often friendly to Trump, has stopped airing his rallies in full. But with the West meeting and a freewheeling 80-minute press conference in September put Trump back in the driver’s seat of his media coverage. 

Trump has recent successes to brag about, like confirming Kavanaugh and an impressive number of lower court judges and renegotiating NAFTA with Mexico and Canada on favorable terms for the US.

Behind those successes lies a mountain of public and media outrages starting from his first day in office right up to the present. Trump’s travel ban, the transgender ban, the separation of families at the border, extending sympathy to white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia all spawned round-the-clock outraged superlatives from cable news.

But the Times‘ epic 14,000-word tax takedown of Trump didn’t stay in the news for more than a day, and his approval rating has stayed solidly around 40% throughout his time in office. In fact, it has gone up over the last year:

trump approval polls

„It wasn’t the timing of the Trump taxes story, its length, or the fact that it wasn’t cut up into bite-sized pieces that dampened impact,“ the Times‘ Glenn Thrush tweeted. „The great @ProPublica story on Trump/Abe is getting similar ‚we knew this.‘ Trump overload/cynicism is a growing threat to good journalism.“

Trump’s White House didn’t even really bother to refute the Times‘ story. Instead of a denial the White House conflated the Times‘ reporting on Trump’s tax records with their errant predictions on election night, as if to say it doesn’t matter what the Times thinks or says. 

That Trump may exaggerate his wealth and make shady deals has been consistently reported for decades — it’s old news.

Meanwhile, Trump makes new news on a daily basis and seems able to steer the news media as he pleases.

On Thursday, after an accused serial sexual assaulter had been confirmed to the Supreme Court, as voter-suppression scandals bubble across the country, as Trump brushed off a suspected state-orchestrated murder of a US-based Saudi critic as not his problem, the big story was a big hug from West.

Perhaps journalists will one day find some mud that sticks to Trump. But as he was elected president after admitting to sexually assaulting women on tape, it’s hard to imagine what that story could be.

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Source: Business insider

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