Yes, it's war: How the media should fight back against Trump
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On November 8th, I tweeted, “If the media thought that the relationship with #donaldtrump was hostile during the’s going to be like that on steroids in the White House.”

In the first month of the Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpProtesters tear down statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore 'Independence Day' star Bill Pullman urges Americans to wear a 'freedom mask' in July 4 PSA Protesters burn American flag outside White House after Trump's July Fourth address MORE presidency, the president and his top advisors have told the media to “keep its mouth shut,” dubbed it the “opposition party,” and characterized it as “fake news.”

In short, everything is going exactly to script.

Anybody who was delusional enough to believe that upon assuming the presidency, Trump would somehow mature, evolve and adapt, can now see how laughably off base that pipe dream really was.


If anything, consumed by the power of the presidency and surrounded by a cadre of “yes” men and stooges, he’s getting worse.


This of course is all by design.

Trump and his chief strategist Steve Bannon believe that they are at their best when they have someone to fight and when everyone else around them is in chaos.

In the campaign, they had the luxury of 16 other Republican primary candidates to play-off of. In the general election, they had both the legacy of President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaSunday shows preview: Lawmakers to address alarming spike in coronavirus cases History will judge America by how well we truly make Black lives matter What July 4 means for November 3 MORE and Secretary Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats try to turn now into November The Memo: Unhappy voters could deliver political shocks beyond Trump On The Trail: Trump, coronavirus fuel unprecedented voter enthusiasm MORE to serve as their foils. 

Now they need another boogeyman to effectively run against and the media is the perfect target. 

This serves a dual purpose.

Whatever failings they have they’ll convince their base of supporters that the media is manipulating the story with “alternative facts” and point them to platforms they control that show the president in a distortedly positive light.

At the same time, as media outlets begin to beef-up investigative units, Trump’s cronies will actively try to tear down all external pillars of accountability to insulate the President and control the flow of information that reaches him.

Should the Washington Post investigative unit publish a story they don’t like, Bannon and friends will march into the Oval Office and tell the president, “well of course they wrote that, they’re the opposition, they’re the enemy, don’t listen to them, listen to us.”

Should the Bureau of Labor Statistics have unemployment and job numbers that reflect poorly on the Trump Administration, Trump’s cadre of advisors will tell him the government bureaucrats are using fuzzy math and order them to submit all reports to the White House for review and approval, before releasing publicly.

It’s a way to inoculate themselves from being held accountable by the president and also to continue to narrow who the president listens to and where he gets his information.

For all of the talk about “alternative facts,” the Trump White House is creating its own alternate reality.

The White House believes they are in the position of strength and can do whatever they want. They don’t need to answer any questions from anyone. They can and will stack the deck of every public engagement with favorable “reporters” and avoid being held accountable. 

They are banking on the idea that whether you like them or hate them, whether they call you names and question your motives, whether they straight up lie to you, that the media will cover a Trump ‘tweet’ with mass saturation.

Think about it. The very people who are so critical of the media are also hungry, thirsty and obsessed for their approval, acceptance and their coverage. 

The worst thing you could do in the Trump-Bannon lexicon is to not talk about them at all.

Obviously, that’s not practical, but that’s how they’re playing it.

Whether the media accepts it or not, they are in a war.

Historically, political leaders in power who have this kind of open contempt for the free press end up utilizing extreme means to try and silence/suppress it.

Imagine if the next time the president refuses to answer a straightforward question or attacks a media outlet at a press conference, if every reporter after that, asks the same question or defers their time to the reporter who was attacked.

Imagine if the next time the president tweets something, rather than saturating the airwaves with panel after panel talking about it, an anchor simply reads it once and nothing else is said about it ever again.

Imagine if the next time the president uses the free press as props to hold another Trump infomercial, the press doesn’t break in live and instead runs news stories about real people spotlighting how policies in Washington are impacting them on a day-to-day level.

I have always believed that the media’s true power lies in its ability to reach and shape public perception. One of the fundamental tenets that our nation was built upon is the ability to have a free and interactive press that can tell truth to power and fight for answers to questions that need to be asked on behalf of the American people.

I don’t believe that the media was ever looking for this fight, but like it or not, they are now in it and they are losing. Good, bad, ugly, if the conversation is all about Donald Trump, Team Trump believes they are winning.

Maybe part of the solution is to spend less time talking Trump and more time spotlighting the human cost of Trump’s policies.

@KurtBardella is a media consultant in Washington D.C. that has represented Breitbart News, the Daily Caller, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the House Oversight and Reform Committee and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)

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