An Opportunity for White House to Change the Narrative
The announcement by Donald Trump that the United States would be pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement while shocking, hardly comes as a surprise given the erratic nature of the current administration.
Forgive my cynicism however, for seeing this as anything more than an attempt at a PR coup on the part of the current president. In fact, there appears to be no logical explanation for it, given that the president went against the advice of his own National Security team. Furthermore, indeed the impact on media coverage of the Trump WH appears to be that the president managed to grab back control of the news cycle.
The announcement led up to the news coverage on all the Sunday news shows. He has since continued to hold court, controlling the media narrative with his tweets about the TRAVEL BAN leading yet another frenzy of news coverage on the insanity of that.
I actually believe that the Climate announcement last week might mark an important turning point for the Trump presidency whereby he will seek and quite possibly continue to succeed in diverting media coverage and control of the narrative.
Stick with me here. I know none of the above really makes sense given that the news coverage has not been positive either on the climate front or on the travel ban. However, we have to go back if we can to the presidential campaign of 2016. There was little to no positive media coverage of then candidate Trump, but not only did that not stop him, but, he managed to suck up all the coverage air.
The constant outrage sparked by then candidate Trump served to provide him billions of dollars’ worth of earned (free) media coverage. In addition, it also allowed him to provide the red meat of a hostile media narrative to his supporters catapulting him to the presidency.
The Trump administration has so far failed in any and all attempts at actual governing, with news about Russia and endless scandals having dominated all news coverage, demoralizing White House staff, the president’s cabinet as well as the principle himself. Clearly, the president does not like it when the media is talking about Russia and any time he succeeds in distracting from Russia news is a good day for him, particularly when he does so on the familiar territory of outrage that
So while the Paris Climate Agreement pullout has garnered negative coverage, it has placed the president in the familiar and comfortable position of actually doing something that his base believes is good for them in addition to a narrative of the media vs. Trump. Similarly, with the travel ban on which the president seems to have realized he will never prevail, his tweet again plays to his base, and the negative news coverage only adds to that so far has only served him.
One might argue that the above narrative wins are highly temporary, but it serves to build on the already existing narrative of Trump vs. the media. It would not surprise me if Trump doesn’t succeed in muddying the waters to the extent that his base stop paying attention even to former FBI director James Comey’s testimony and the Russian investigations that are coming down the pike.
As cynical as this outlook might be, it really should come as no surprise because the narcissism of the current occupier of the White House has been abundantly on display. The news media must not, and should not allow itself to be used at the whim of a narcissistic teenager in the most important office of the land. The president’s behavior at best suggests that he does not like the Russian narrative simply because he’s. It in control of it or even perhaps because it suggests a less than legitimate win on his part. At worst, the possibilities are endless and do not bode well for this president.