Trump: It’s The Ratings Stupid

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.


Bannon Blinks

The publication of Michael Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury” has been a publicity windfall for Donald Trump and his (former?) friend Steve Bannon. Both men are seriously – and probably dangerously – addicted to whatever press they can get. They really don’t care much whether it is good or bad, as long as they can dominate the news cycle.

Unfortunately, in this case they were on opposite sides of the story. The book caught Bannon shooting his mouth off about Trump and his family. Naturally, Trump shot back – not at the book but at Bannon, in effect acknowledging that the book’s quotes sounded like Bannon and were probably accurate but the product of someone who ‘lost his mind’.

Both men love a good fight, but this was a lose-lose. The longer they kept insulting each other in the press, the more ammo the onetime and possibly future allies provided to the opposition.

Bannon blinked first. He apologized to Trump and tried to walk back his statements. He really had no choice. Trump sees every issue as a zero sum game and has to win every point. If Bannon did not show contrition Trump would never stop. Even so, Bannon kind of admitted saying many of the nasty things, and Trump will remember that.

Will it make a difference? Both men need each other. Trump needs Bannon and his media organ Breitbart to keep the hard core base fired up with stuff that is too unfair and unbalanced for FOX. Bannon has a president whose political outlook is as close as he is ever going to find to his own.

They are a natural pair. They will find a way to get back together. On Trump’s terms.