Five months into his historic Presidency and Donald Trump’s war with the media continues unabated. The President is unmoved, in fact, he seems to relish, the constant back and forth with reporters and editors. But others in his camp are beginning to show signs of wear.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has, to date, borne the brunt of the media derision aimed at the Trump administration. He’s been the butt of jokes on SNL and the nightly TV talk shows, and his contentious exchanges with reporters have created as many headlines as the reports he’s tasked with conveying.
There have been others to come out and face the withering frustration and, sometimes, outright derision from the DC press corps. Recently, that’s been Assistant Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who, just last week, made headlines after a caustic back and forth with a reporter who said he was tired of being castigated by the administration for just doing his job.
Meanwhile, news is trickling out of the White House that the President’s communications team is “understaffed” and, worse, that they can’t seem to find anyone who wants the available jobs.
Trump’s team has responded to this dearth of support by employing strategies that are meant to simply mess with the media. Whether it’s an information blackout, purposely preposterous soundbites or simply contentious exchanges, nothing is coming easy on either side.
One of the most curious questions about all this is how the public feels about it. In general, Trump supporters love that their guy and his team are “sticking it to” the media. Trump critics, however, express frustration that the administration is “being so difficult.”
With all these narratives flying around and all these ideas being volleyed back and forth, it’s tough to determine who’s really winning in all this. Both sides seem to be keeping score, and both sides are constantly claiming victory … but what do Joe and Jane American really think? That’s a tough question to answer at this point, though it might be clearer as time goes on … and it’s possible the midterm elections will indicate which side public opinion is leaning.
In the end, none of this contention between the President and the press may matter. Mr. Trump continues to be his best and biggest promoter. His understanding of how to work the media, spread the message, and connect with his base is unmatched. He may not be a politician, but there’s no doubt Trump is a political animal. He understands the game, and he knows how to stay on message, no matter what. It’s a skill many others in the political game could use to learn a thing or two about.