Media’s obsession with Trump’s demeanor again overshadows the big story


We heard much about a soul-searching exercise many in media promised to conduct following the 2016 election.

We were told that the Fourth Estate would try to go about their jobs differently.

{mosads}Or to quote one senior official in the Trump administration,”to keep its mouths shut and just listen for awhile.”


But listening and ADD (attention deficit disorder) combined with EDD (ego-domination disorder) can be a devastating 1-2 punch to one’s integrity. And unfortunately for those who actually believed the usual suspects in the press would really execute on the promise to pursue less shiny objects, sexy (totally unconfirmed) narratives and everything but important stories, ADD/EDD has assured that ain’t happening for at least the next four years.

President Trump’s Thursday press conference was the most analyzed of its kind ever. It’s not remotely close: Cable news alone went wall-to wall (to wall-to-wall) on the topic for nearly 24 hours straight. And most of the coverage was a chef’s salad of “analysis” of Trump’s style, demeanor, attacks on the media, all topped off with a healthy dose of Russian dressing.

A tweet from CNN’s Politics feed sums up the coverage appropriately:

That’s not to say Trump doesn’t bring this on himself. He does. He picks fights already decided (the election result, voter fraud with little evidence, Hillary getting debate questions in advance, Don Lemon’s panel selection, etc). He steps on his own narrative repeatedly.

But putting aside Trump’s torrent tangents, ask yourself this:

What was THE STORY of Thursday?

You know, the find with potential long-term ramifications…

From this perspective, it was the announcement of Alexander Acosta as Trump’s second nominee for Labor Secretary. A close second was legislation signed by the president soon after the press conference we’ll get to in a bit.

What? Acosta? Labor Secretary? How utterly boring, right?

Well, guess what? The story is much more interesting than it is at first glance.

For starters, Acosta, unlike Andrew Puzder’s prospects before withdrawing for a myriad of reasons, should be confirmed relatively easily if mostly-muted Democrats regarding his nomination are any indication. Precedent maters: Acosta has also been through Senate confirmation three times before.

But that’s not the story.

Instead it’s this quote, buried under an avalanche of Trump mental analysis:

“Working people changed the game on this nomination. Unlike Andy Puzder, Alexander Acosta’s nomination deserves serious consideration. said Richard Trumka, who’s only head of the AFL-CIO. “In one day, we’ve gone from a fast-food CEO who routinely violates labor law to a public servant with experience enforcing it,” AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said, according to NBC News’s Carrie Dann.

For those interested in connecting the dots, the AFL-CIO is the federation of unions in the United States with nearly 13 million members. And when it came to one of Trump’s executive orders few are talking about—withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership—Trumpka and other large unions really liked what they were seeing out of the White House.

Per Teamsters President James Hoffa Jr. on behalf of his 1.3 million members:

“Today, President Trump made good on his campaign promise to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. With this decision, the president has taken the first step toward fixing 30 years of bad trade policies that have cost working Americans millions of good-paying jobs.”

That sounds like the type of praise reserved for a Democratic leader, not a Republican one.

Gallup surveys continually show the two most important issues that matter most to voters are the economy and jobs. That’s especially more true in states Hillary Clinton should have won going away in like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. 

If Trump’s Labor Secretary can help execute on the president’s themes of keeping companies and factories from leaving the country while creating more quality jobs and protecting workers rights, particularly in the aforementioned states, how exactly does any Democratic nominee win in 2020 regardless of Trump’s unorthodox demeanor?

Another big story on Thursday that received scant coverage: Trump signed legislation reversing key regulations on coal mining. The action was met with praise from the coal mining community, a key voting bloc in the kind of states that propelled Trump to victory in November, including Pennsylvania and Ohio.

And the media collectively dropped the ball on this kind of substantive story Again. Why? Because they believe it doesn’t generate clicks and ratings while not allowing themselves to be the story while playing the victim.


And all of this is happening while the media continues to acted shocked and insulted that Trump continues to act like the same Trump who announced his candidacy 610 days ago. 

The media was myopic, almost unhinged, in its focus on Trump being who he is throughout the election. 

That focus resulted in completely missing what was happening behind a blue wall of rust belt states that they—like the candidate they desperately tried to get elected—couldn’t be bothered to visit in an effort to listen to opinions other than the ones they give on a daily basis.

Now the press is making the same mistake as it did before the election.

The analysis is solely on Trump the person. 

But the actions and results of this president that get buried and ignored are what’s going to decide whether we have four more years of press conferences like the one we witnessed yesterday.

Or eight.

Joe Concha is a media reporter for The Hill.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags Donald Trump Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Joe Concha media
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