Mr. Trump’s West Wing has always seemed to be the crossroads between cutthroat politics and television drama, presided over by a seasoned showman who has made a career of keeping the audience engaged and coming back for more. Obsessed by ratings and always on the hunt for new story lines, Mr. Trump leaves the characters on edge, none of them ever really certain whether they might soon be voted off the island.
“Absolutely, I see those techniques playing out,” said Laurie Ouellette, a communications professor at the University of Minnesota who has studied reality television extensively. “Reality TV is known for its humiliation tactics and its aggressive showmanship and also the idea that either you’re in or you’re out, with momentum building to the final decision on who stays and who goes.”
.. dismissed Mr. Corker on Tuesday by mocking his height and suggesting he had somehow been conned. “The Failing @nytimes set Liddle’ Bob Corker up by recording his conversation,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Was made to sound a fool, and that’s what I am dealing with!”
.. Mr. Trump later denied that he had demeaned his secretary of state. “I didn’t undercut anybody. I don’t believe in undercutting people,” he told reporters, in a comment that must have amused the many people he has undercut since taking office.
.. “With Jemele Hill at the mike, it is no wonder ESPN ratings have ‘tanked,’ in fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.
.. Andy Cohen, the creator of the “Real Housewives” reality television show franchise, found that too rich. “This is actually happening,” he wrote on Twitter. “All the wives are fighting. Even I AM SPEECHLESS.”
.. This has exceeded what would have been allowed on ‘The Apprentice,’” she said. “It’s almost a magnification. It’s like reality TV unleashed. Yes, he was good at it, but I always felt like he had to be reined in in order not to mess up the formula. Here, he doesn’t have that same sort of constraint.”
Steve Bannon, Back on the Outside, Prepares His Enemies List
Stephen K. Bannon has always been more comfortable when he was trying to tear down institutions — not work inside them.
With his return to Breitbart News, Mr. Bannon will be free to lead the kind of ferocious assault on the political establishment that he relishes, even if sometimes that means turning his wrath on the White House itself.
.. “In many ways, I think I can be more effective fighting from the outside for the agenda President Trump ran on,” he said Friday. “And anyone who stands in our way, we will go to war with.”
Among those already in Mr. Bannon’s sights:
- Speaker Paul D. Ryan;
- Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader;
- the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and
- son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and
- Gary D. Cohn, the former president of Goldman Sachs who now directs the White House’s National Economic Council.
“The president was buoyed to election by capturing the hearts and minds of a populist, nationalist movement,” Alex Marlow, Breitbart’s editor in chief, said Friday evening. “A lot of it was anti-Wall Street, anti-corporatist, anti-establishment. And now we’re seeing that a lot of these guys remaining inside the White House are exactly the opposite of what we told you you were going to get.”
.. Most immediately, he has told associates that he wants to ensure that any spending resolution approved next month by Congress includes money to begin construction on the wall that Mr. Trump has promised to build on the southern border.
If Congress balks, Mr. Bannon has advised the president to issue a veto, which would trigger a government shutdown.
.. “You can’t play by the Marquess Queensberry’s rules,” he often tells colleagues, using a characteristically colorful historical analogy, in this case to the 19th-century code of conduct for boxing.
.. Mr. Kushner; Ms. Trump; Dina Powell, the deputy national security adviser; and Mr. Cohn have all been the target of unrelenting attacks by Breitbart and others on the right for their efforts to draw Mr. Trump to the political center. The site has routinely dismissed Mr. Cohn as a “globalist” and a “swamp creature”; in headlines, his name would sometimes appear bracketed by globe emojis, to underscore the point — also an allusion to the triple parentheses that anti-Semites on social media use to denote Jewish names.
.. “He will use Breitbart as a battering ram,” said Ben Shapiro
.. Unable to talk face-to-face with the president and sensing that his days were numbered, Mr. Bannon began to speak more openly with associates about how effective he could be if he returned to Breitbart