For some reason, I still watch clips from ABC’s “The View” and The Young Turks. Apart from following what the other side is talking about and how they frame what is currently in the news, there is little insight to be gained from watching their coverage. They simply haven’t been able to connect to the new Trump centric reality. They are analysing the politics of yesteryear, their methodology and knowledge has to a certain extent become obsolete.
The legacy media, progressive webcasts and the estrogen overload on “The View” all describe the Trump administration as “chaotic, uncoordinated, rudderless and without direction”. By doing so they are proving that they have entirely missed what Trump is all about. The same people that dismissed him as a washed-up reality star are dumbfounded when he displays world class media techniques, with superior insight and manipulative ability. A cliché by this point, “his supporters took him seriously, but not literally. The media took him literally, but not seriously” perfectly encapsulates the 2016 election cycle. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that much (but certainly not all) of the chaos and negative coverage about Trump was in fact deliberately orchestrated by the man himself.
Trump successfully manipulated the media into gaining almost completely saturated name recognition. He made himself available to all kinds of shows for interviews, he bypassed traditional campaign messaging structures with timely and constant social media barrages and he baited the media into covering his rallies with “outrageous” statements. The media lamented every time Trump said something controversial that “he did it again! He is surely finished this time!”. It all served Trump’s purpose. The undecided voters saw that Trump was more serious than traditional candidates when it came to confronting and handling serious issues. The Muslim ban comments, the “bomb the shit out of them” in regard to ISIS and similar outbursts signalled to potential voters that here was a guy that was sincere about doing something real and meaningful about the serious topic of national security and terrorism.
Trump was famously exposed for being the leaker behind the infamous “John Miller” tapes. The media talked gleefully about the early 90’s tape of Trump pretending to be his own publicist, they incorrectly thought that this was a story that was negative for Trump. I’ve explained in other posts how he managed to torpedo the credibility of the Washington Post’s “Trump dirt digging team” with this intentional leak. For more on this watch the interview between Megyn Kelly and Sue Carswell on YouTube. Their heads are literally spinning when they realize that they’ve been had.
The media only looked at the surface level of his comments, without looking at the sentiment. In this context, we must also address the fact that Trump is famous for being a negotiator. His public campaign statements can be viewed as “opening bids” that were suitable for negotiation once the wheeling and dealing of politics would be necessary to transform them into real policies. For regular politicians, what Trump has done and said would kill their campaign and any chances of ever getting elected.
Trump has also used frequent personnel changes to his advantage. During the campaign, he had three different campaign managers, all suitable for the phase of the campaign they presided over. Lewandowski oversaw the free-wheeling Trump of the early wild rallies, Manafort secured the delegate process from a potential coup at the convention and Bannon/Conway disciplined Trump’s messaging and pushed him on the offensive against Hillary to ultimately clinch victory. The same is going on now in the White House. Priebus was useful for the attempt to work with establishment Republicans in Congress. When that ultimately failed to produce results, Trump moved on to the next person. We will definitely see more personnel changes over the years if people fail to deliver or if a better person is needed to successfully traverse a particular stretch of time.
Before I forget, the legendary “I love Hispanics!” taco bowl tweet was lampooned in the national press at the time. Paul Ryan said that Trump “was trying” to reach out to the Hispanic community, his tone suggested that this was almost a childlike attempt to do so. What did Trump get out of this? The national press endlessly showed pictures of the tweet with a smiling Trump and the text “I love Hispanics”. Trump + Love Hispanics over and over and over again. How is this not messaging brilliance?
Finally, I want to address the failure of the RINOs in Congress to repeal Obamacare. Persuasion analyst Scott Adams has made some remarkably deep and timely insights into this matter. Trump is a man that puts his own name on everything. He didn’t push healthcare reform as “Trumpcare”. A few in the media used this name, but far from all. Trump seemed to be happy with the healthcare reform push being known as the healthcare reform of the Republicans, not Trump specifically. He also did little over the minimum to push for it. Listening to Adams, I’m becoming more and more convinced that Trump wanted it to fail. The failure opens the board up for new ideas and approaches that are more likely to work. Trump suffered much criticism for the failure of repeal, but if the end result is better isn’t it worth the wait? After all, Trump worked hard for winning the election by going after what actually wins elections, electoral college votes. Hillary pushed for a greater popular vote margin in safe democratic states, wasting time, money and precious resources on non-essentials for winning the actual criteria that determines elections. In the end, the end result, actually winning is what matters. If scandals, negative press coverage, frequent personnel changes and so on are what the situation requires then Trump has proven to be a master at using these well in order to achieve his desired ends.