"Bad press," reports the A.P., "has not allowed Trump to 'enjoy' the White House as he feels he deserves, according to one person who has spoken with him…. Two people close to Trump said he expected his coverage to turn more favorable once he took office. Instead, he's told people he believes it's gotten worse."
For once I agree with Trump. His media coverage has gotten worse, which is to say, better, and it's about to get more worse, which is to say, more better. Contrary to his protestation of joylessness, this of course suits the president just fine (unlike some of Sean Spicer's), in that "bad" mainstream media is among Trump's principal and enduring objectives. It helped to get him where he is and he's not about to let it go.
Trump's self-promoted image is that of the virtuous strongman, the valiant warrior for "forgotten men and women," the sole and fearless voice of anti-elitism, meaning anti-institutionalism. And given movement conservatism's unremitting, decades-old propaganda campaign against the institutionally defined "establishment," among which is a politically independent Fourth Estate, the president's base was well primed to hate those who, he insists, hate them.
That Trump encourages the kind of "bad" media coverage that indeed benefits him (for now) is self-evident. Goading "the enemy" and begging retaliation, for months he identified political journalists as "scum," whom he now selectively portrays as purveyors of misnomered "fake news" — as he did once again last night:
This from a man who "expected his coverage to turn more favorable once he took office"? As Trumpian jokes go, that's a good one.
The best one, however, is more likely to be on him. Along with emulating the fascist model of viciously assaulting a free and thus inevitably critical press, Trump is engaging its sister model of blanket, internal censorship. Reports Politico:
Federal agencies are clamping down on public information and social media in the early days of Donald Trump's presidency, limiting employees’ ability to issue news releases, tweet, make policy pronouncements or otherwise communicate with the outside world.... The steps to mute federal employees … are sparking early fears of a broader crackdown across the government….
The directives to federal employees — at least some apparently self-imposed by career staff — come amid a lingering fear among Trump loyalists that the president’s critics in the federal bureaucracy will seek to undermine his agenda.
Those loyalist fears are vastly justified, since the Trump administration will itself be a vast model of deep intellectual corruption, in-house intimidation, and infinite reams of genuine fake news.
Yet, what will be the product of Trump's strong-arming of his unappointed bureaucracy? Equally infinite reams of anti-administration leaks and anonymous backgrounding — from within — on just what an extraordinarily devastating clusterfuck his administration is.
One must give the toll-taking of all this countervailing truth — disseminated daily by scummy political journalists — some time, although time is already against Trump. His "first job-approval rating is in, and" — at 45 percent — "it is the lowest an incoming president has ever received." We must also remind ourselves that 45 percent of Americans don't watch Trump-approved Fox News, or listen to the unhinged twaddle of talk radio, or read the supremely unhinged Breitbart.com.
Hence within a year, perhaps deferred to 18 or even 24 months, Trump should be settling into George W. Bush's final approval rating of 22 percent — which, it would appear, is the true bottom floor of America's right-winging dedication to absolute clusterfuckedupedness.