Matthew Christian Brice Thompson
Normally, in dealing with media outlets, politicians generally attempt to stick to their relatively routine talking points. Donald J. Trump is far from routine.
Rather than providing the carefully rehearsed and polished talking points in an eloquent fashion during interviews, which have traditionally demonstrated a focused, concerted flow of ideas intended to maximize support politically, or garner wide public support, the president has often embarked on an alternate path to the people – the path of Twitter.
How well has President Trump handled the media? In order to truly answer this question, we have to consider the role of the media and its proper place and function within society. Among other things, the media facilitates communication from the political elite to the people.
Moreover, most individuals consume the vast majority of their political knowledge (the actual factual information about politics) from media venues like certain types of nightly news programs. In contrast to the sentiments argued as “fake news” or “dishonest media,” this political knowlede is crucial to creating a society of informed citizens, versus pools of misinformed or uninformed citizens.
Traditional journalism (i.e the newspaper, The Washington Post, nightly news, etc.) adheres to strict “news norms” aimed at objectivity, accuracy, neutrality, balance, and maintains reliance on obtaining information from official sources. While sources are likely to be kept anonymous at times, oftentimes they are powerful members of the political elite, or tied to the political infrastrucure of Capitol Hill and/or the White House in some way.
Media outlets that adhere to “traditional news norms” can produce high quality products that are vital to the function of the United States’ democracy, and also contribute to polling practices and survey research needed to know public opinion and the public policy mood of the people.
But, the president and his surrogates have oftentimes been hypercritical of the media over the course of the campaign resulting in President Trump embracing the platform of Twitter to share his messages to the public. The president’s unfavorable attitude towards tradional media outlets surely plays a role in the frequency and content of his Tweets.
But regardless of Mr. Trump’s Tweeting, which can easily be seen as harmful and irresponsible, has the administration handled the media well? News outlets have often covered Trump in a manner that clearly encompassed political advantages.
On one hand, Trump’s method of dealing with the media in a harsh manner resulted in sheer blanketed coverage on the majority of news outlets over the course of his campaign and simply forced his political opponents out of the free news coverage and limelight.
The media emboldened the Trump campaign by oversaturating the news with headlines and stories about him, and they are getting a pretty harsh deal from the new president’s combative posture.Even with controversial subject matter, however, the president has been able to keep the spotlight on himself, which diminished the effectiveness of other campaigns.
So sure, he has handled media poorly and in what appears as an unorthodox fashion if we judge based on the normal. But the president’s methods have been effective. Mr. Trunp shows no signs of changing his style now; even in the midst of poor poll numbers and mass protests. The ways of engaging the masses during the campaign,and as of late, will continue,and we will just have to wait and see how “well” his handling of the media truly is.