Trump Sucks Comey’s Oxygen

If you were wondering why Donald Trump went manic on twitter over the past weekend it wasn’t because he was trying to convince everyone that James Comey was a liar. It was simply to suck the oxygen out of the Comey news. As usual, the press went for it.

Comey’s interview on ABC aired Sunday night. The stories in the mainstream press the next morning were a win for Trump. Yes, they reported that Comey felt Trump was “morally unfit” to be president and a serial liar. But the stories largely only devoted 1/3 of their ink to Comey and what he had to say.

The other two thirds of the stories focused on what Trump said in his tweets. The press seems to be under some compulsion to repeat almost all of them word for word.

Trump knows that, so whenever something is in the news that he doesn’t like, he tweets to either change the subject or suck up all of the news with his viewpoint.

The unbelievable thing is that it continues to work. The press feels it needs the “can you believe he said that?” factor that Trump’s tweets provide to get readers.

Here’s a suggestion, men and women of the press. If you really need to print all of the Trump’s tweets, put them at the bottom of your story, like an appendix. For example,

“James Comey appeared on 60 Minutes last night and asserted that Donald Trump was ‘morally unfit’ to be president and ‘lies constantly’.” In a series of tweets before and after the interview Donald Trump in turn called Comey a liar and disparaged his character.”

That’s it. Don’t quote Trump’s tweets until the end of the story, and at that point, just print them out one after another. Leave some oxygen for the rest of the story.


Et Tu, Boris?

Donald Trump is the master of the Taunting Tweet. Whether he is taking on the Democrats, Republicans or even members of his own cabinet like Jeff Sessions, he is pretty handy with the snarky, cutting comment.

To be sure, there have been plenty of Tweets tweaking Trump, but none of them are from anyone he cares about.

So it must have been particularly galling for Trump to read the Russian prime minister’s Tweet that his administration is showing “total weakness” in the “most humiliating way.” To have his buddies the Russians publicly proclaim him as “an incompetent player” (Facebook post) has to be the ultimate insult for smart, tough guy Trump. Truly humiliating.

Of course, there may be more to it behind the scenes. The best way to gauge Trump’s relations with the Russians is to follow the money. Is Russian financing still flowing to the Trump family of companies? Is Trump Inc. doing any new real estate development in Russia? We might have to wait until Robert Mueller speaks before we find out.

The Media: Incremental Progress

When Donald Trump first started running for president, the media treated it like a joke. The prevailing tone was, “Can you believe this guy? I mean, really, he is so crude!” It was pretty much the same way the US political media covered other candidates from world of show business like Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger: incredulity and a touch of condescension.

Well, it turns out that many folks could believe Trump, and liked the straightforward way he said things as well. It took the media quite a while to process this. Like until after the election. Once he was president-elect, they started treating him a bit more like a politician. But they were still easily manipulated and thrown off course by him. It was like watching a master puppeteer at work.

There are now signs that the media has made some additional incremental progress. The media is now more aware that it is part of Trump’s misdirection efforts, although it still seems powerless to stop this. It is also starting to call patently false statements ‘lies’ instead of “untruths” or some other euphemism.

The media is still too easily manipulated by tweets, but maybe this will also change with time. Since Trump will never stop tweeting, maybe the media should refrain from reporting Trump’s tweets before they can get an appropriate comment from his nemesis: the Governator.