I was tempted to say this was a paradox. But it’s too straightforward for paradox. The key truth of Trumpism is that for all the purported hatred of “the media”, the main Trumpers are almost all fundamentally media creatures. They think in media terms. They are media creations.
Trump himself is a self-creation of the 80s and 90s New York City tabloid culture. His comeback in the early part of this century was driven more than most people understand by the success of The Apprentice. Why else do you think people in the Philippines or Kazakhstan paid millions to license Trump’s name? It was the brand driver of the licensing empire which allowed Trump to become the 45th President.
Steve Bannon was a publisher. Before that he was a movie producer. Jared Kushner bought a newspaper and used it to fight his battles in the press. On down the list they are all media people. They don’t hate the media. Indeed, they can only understand most battles in media terms.
.. Shouting and messaging and attacks are the only language they really understand. What they hate is that they feel like they’re losing on the terrain they believe is the only one that really matters.
.. We’ve seen the comical and now perennial pattern in which you’ll read an article which describes a White House brought to its knees by some crisis almost entirely of the President’s making. The answer? Time to fire Reince Priebus. There’s a similar story with Sean Spicer.
.. Throughout, there is this abiding belief that enough assertion and aggression can change anything.
.. If the reporting we see is close to reliable, Jared Kushner is in profound legal jeopardy. He must be scared and scarred by the time he spent in federal prisons visiting his father during his father’s incarceration. But the lesson Kushner apparently learned from this searing experience was to attack always and always harder.
.. This is fascinatingly similar to what triggered Kushner’s father’s final downfall. Charles Kushner was the subject of a tax and campaign finance probe when he pulled a breathtakingly wild attempt to obstruct that investigation by hiring a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law and videotape their sex.
.. Kushner wanted them to complain about chyrons on cable news, call reporters to update stories with White House statements, and unleash surrogates immediately. He was angry that there were no talking points offered to surrogates, the source said. One senior administration official suggested that two aides from the communications shop be dedicated just to updating chyrons.
“Jared didn’t like the idea, he wanted people to get aggressive,” said an outside adviser who was briefed on the meeting. “Jared’s the guy who is rushing the front lines and other people are saying, ‘see, wait, hold, and let’s get a battle strategy.’”
.. the belief that yelling and attacking harder can change broad-ranging criminal probes or the equally implausible belief that the Trump White House’s problem has been insufficiently aggressive attacks against those it perceives as enemies. Almost every problem the Trump White House has had, at least the President and in most cases his top advisors have seen it as a failure out of the communications office to sell the administration’s story.
.. It’s a media event, a media campaign – run for most of the campaign by the candidate more or less on his own, a man with long experience and an intuitive sense of marketing and message. Think about it. Trump seems to spend the better part of his time in the White House watching cable news. It’s not just an obsession with his enemies. It’s who he is, just the way policy people read policies papers. It’s the one language he understands and the only one he thinks – and most of his top advisors think – matters.