In case you have not noticed, Donald Trump is not exactly a traditional president. That includes how he measures how well he is doing.
Trump is from the celebrity and reality TV worlds (pretty much the same thing, really). In those worlds, success is measured by how often you are mentioned in the press and the ratings your TV program receives. It really doesn’t matter whether people ‘like’ you, how high your public approval ratings are or even what the press is writing about you. If you are in the news every day, you are successful. Period.
That is why Trump cares about how many people come to events like his inauguration. If he has the largest attendance then he had the largest ratings, and he is the ‘best’ president. Period.
If a celebrity finds their press coverage lacking, they have their PR flack manufacture something to bring them some coverage. Trump is his own publicist and he is brilliant at it, having honed his skills in over 30 years of sparring with New York’s celebrity press.
When Trump feels his ratings going down, he sends out a few tweets. Boom – he is back in the headlines and back on top.
The celebrity press understands this game, but the political press is still trying to figure it out. Trump has completely broken their reporting model and until they come up with a new one he will continue to be a star and write his own headlines.
Sarah Sanders is running circles around the White House press corps and they have no idea what to do about it. For all of Donald Trump’s faults, he hit one out of the park when he hired her.
Every day the White House press tries to press her on something controversial that Trump tweeted or some dysfunction within his administration. There is no shortage of either. Yet Sanders is able to dodge, weave and deflect, many of the times turning the tables on the press corps.
For example, when queried as to whether a Trump comment that a senator would “do anything” for campaign contributions was implying sex, Sanders admonished the reporter to get her mind out of the gutter. Touche!
To be honest, as good as Sanders is, her job really isn’t all that hard and is probably a lot of fun. The White House press corps needs a through shakeup. They are where they are because they climbed the professional ladder and finally got to the job where they get invited to the right parties and have some status, and they are probably not a little bit full of themselves.
In addition, they are used to the formal White House press ritual that team Trump has absolutely no respect for. They are playing by the old rules and Sanders is playing by Trump rules. Until they news agencies ship some reporters with experience covering reality TV and celebrities, Sanders will continue to kick their butts.