January 30th, 2017

So, would the press have done this to any Republican president?

All answers are speculative, of course, but my answer is a resounding “yes.”

Commenter Yancey Ward writes:

One of the issues some on the Right keep bringing up here is paraphrased this way: “Trump should have better explained this EO, or should have executed it better.”

This is delusional at best. It didn’t matter how Trump worded or explained this EO. The reaction from the media would have been exactly the same. The reaction would have been exactly the same if the EO hadn’t put a temporary halt to the entry of people from these 7 countries, but had instead just announced the same terms Obama had already put into place.

This has been a long-running problem for Republicans at all levels of government- thinking they can placate the media by any actions whatsoever.

I agree with Yancey. And yet I also disagree.

I agree that the MSM would twist his/her words, lie, and use a double standard towards any GOP president. But some charges stick more than others, and some GOP leaders are more susceptible to criticism than others. Each has his/her strengths and weaknesses. It behooves each and every one of them to be as clear as possible—and as loud as possible, in the sense of reaching the public directly and explaining him/herself—in an attempt to get ahead of the news. That’s true of the politician and it’s true for his/her aides and spokespeople. The more they pre-empt the media’s message and make their own crystal clear, the better.

Trump sometimes is good at that and sometimes isn’t. His use of Twitter, for example, is his attempt to do that. Someone like Kellyanne Conway, who ordinarily is extremely sharp and extremely clear and articulate, is another. Sometimes, though, the communications are murky or non-existent, such as on the signing of the EO on immigration. A chance to explain and get ahead of the inevitable distortions was missed, to the administration’s detriment.

However, Trump has two general advantages that previous GOP presidents have not had (maybe Reagan was an exception; I’m not sure about that). The first is that he has a lot of supporters who will forgive him anything, almost literally anything. The media has been trying to get him for a long time and they really haven’t drawn serious blood yet. The second is that Trump has explicitly framed his campaign and now his presidency as a fight against a mendacious media. So, any time he’s vague about something and they either misunderstand it or lie about it (or both), and are later proven to have been wrong or mendacious, that feeds the Trump narrative and makes more people suspicious of the media itself. Which is a win for Trump.

Trump’s most fervent supporters won’t turn on him almost no matter what he does. His most fervent opponents won’t approve of anything he does no matter what it is. But there’s a vast group in the middle that could go either way. I happen to think that he’d do well to explain himself clearly and succinctly and get ahead of the news cycle as well as responding to the news attacks. The more consistently right he is, the more he can appeal to that group and override the constant anti-Trump hue and cry in the MSM.

23 Responses to “So, would the press have done this to any Republican president?”

  1. Cornhead Says:

    Watching them MSM go hysterical over this is a hoot.

  2. Paul in Boston Says:

    Trump is going to exhaust them by putting out an executuve order, make a nomination, or declare a policy every few days. How long can the MSM and the lefties keep it up before the rest of the US just ignores them completely?

    It will get worse if the left escaltes the violence and then the conservatives respond in a big way, which hopefully doesn’t happen. The MSM will never admit to compliticy in any case.

  3. Griffin Says:

    Obviously we all want everything to be done smoothly but I am willing to give them a break in these early days as long as I think the policy in question is a good one. As with many things lately the media is pretending that no other new administration has had issues like this in the beginning.

    While perfection in execution is an admirable goal it will never be achieved and if you happen to have (R) after your name then the media will freak out over everything.

    And I think the fatigue among regular folks at the daily two minutes of hate has already began especially over things like this that I strongly believe have pretty wide support among the populace. Something the media definitely don’t want to talk about by the way.

  4. Griffin Says:

    To expand on my last thought here in the Seattle area where I live we have been treated to the lovely new phenomenon called the ’emergency protest’ which of course accomplishes nothing while at the same time inconveniencing huge amounts of people. A few people this morning were griping about these stupid protests at my workplace. And these aren’t Trump supporters either. They are doing damage to their cause not that they care I guess because it feels so good and that drives the left nowadays more than anything.

  5. Kyndyll G Says:

    You said it all on this one, Neo. I have nothing to add.

  6. Yancey Ward Says:

    Neo, it wouldn’t have mattered to the media, it wouldn’t have mattered to the Left (I know, redundant), it wouldn’t have mattered to Trump’s supporters, it wouldn’t have mattered to the anti-Trump Republicans, and it wouldn’t have mattered to the people who could be convinced to support one side or the other.

    Here is what would have happened if Trump had taken the time to explain the order before issuing it, had exempted the holders of Green Cards, and had grandfathered in any who were already overseas under the previous regime of exit/entry into the US. The media would have still gone batshit crazy, and all of Trump’s critics in both parties would then have come up with a new set of criticisms and claimed they were the result of a hastily issued EO that wasn’t thought out or explained in even more detail.

    In short, this is a battle of opinion that Trump could never win no matter what he did with the EO.

    It is far better to just act at this point, doing what you promised to do, and let the Left go crazy over it- don’t apologize and don’t back down- there is nothing to be gained for doing so.

    Just watch what happens on Tuesday night when Trump announces the SCOTUS nominee. Insanity on the Left will ensue, and the real question is how the so-called leadership in the Senate reacts. My prediction is they back down and refuse to break the Democrats filibuster.

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    Yancey Ward:

    I believe it would have mattered to some in the middle. The lack of communication from Trump allowed the media to create a counter-narrative first.

    How much would it have mattered? Well, it’s early yet. He’ll get other chances. But he missed this one.

  8. Yancey Ward Says:


    It doesn’t matter, Neo. The media wouldn’t be carrying Trump’s narrative whether he gave it before the order or after- they would have lied and exaggerated just hard and relentlessly, and those in the middle either tune into Trump’s after-order explanations, or they would not have to any pre-order explanation.

    Given the problems of announcing ones strategy before implementing it, I don’t see anything gained- like I wrote, there was no bargain to be made here in the first place because the critics aren’t looking to improve the EO, they are looking to defeat its issuer.

  9. KLSmith Says:

    neo is right. This was a big own goal for the Trump team.

  10. neo-neocon Says:

    Yancey Ward:

    I don’t think you understand my point. Of course the media would do it anyway. I think I made that very clear.

    The point is that you don’t want the media to set the narrative before you set yours.

    Nor am I advocating telegraphing anything in advance. I am talking about a speech right around the time he signed the thing, or very shortly after (I mean within the hour). Nothing telegraphed.

  11. Ann Says:

    Reagan benefited greatly from having Michael Deaver as his media guy. Deaver made sure the public perceived Reagan in a positive light. Another great benefit was having the super-canny James Baker as his White House chief of staff.

  12. blert Says:


    The typical ‘middle’ voter is in the middle because they are not engaged in the first place.

    In that sense, they are unreachable.

    The activists have staked out their positions — have a drastic difference of political conception.

    All attempts to rally the middle to one’s side will prove futile.

    They’re too busy — probably trying to put food on the table.

  13. miklos000rosza Says:

    I’ve never seen such an all-out full-court press by the MSM before. It’s frightening. Would they have attacked Scott Walker in the same way, at this level? Well, given how he was gone after in Wisconsin, yeah, maybe so.

    ESPN on its crawl during a college basketball game had some non-story about a Somalian track star who is “afraid.” SI has two different headlines which have nothin to do with sports — one supposedly tells us how Pat Tillman’s widow says Pat would have disapproved of Trump.

    Facebook in the last couple of days featured videos shown of some “Nazi” being violently suckerpunched, and everyone who commented thought this was wonderful, just great. So we may be getting close to real violence. Some other “Nazi” in a Pendleton shirt was allegedly knocked cold — I didn’t read much of the story because this stuff angers me.

  14. JuliB Says:

    2 minute hate – Griffin is spot on.

  15. OM Says:


    When the protests impede the middle man’s ability to earn his living he notices, and the left on middle men notice too as Griffin pointed out. Or are all those meat puppets unpersuadable by dollars and cents?

  16. OM Says:

    But Mikoos000rosca don’t you realize we are the fascists, not those SJWs. They (SJWs) may find the political climate on the local and higher level less appealing when it involves free room and board at locations and for durations chosen by others.

  17. huxley Says:

    I confess I haven’t read the EO. But I am not a lawyer and I’m not sure how much more enlightened I would be if I had.

    Glenn Reynolds, a law professor whom I respect, seems to consider the EO something of a fumble.

    But is it hanging offense? I haven’t seen anything persuasive to that effect. I assume it can be fixed with further explanations and an amended EO.

    I don’t like Trump. I think his smarts and delegation powers are overrated. But this EO foofaraw seems way out of bounds.

  18. neo-neocon Says:


    I know plenty of people in the middle who are not disengaged at all. They are reasonable people who want reasonable policies.

    Are they “typical” middle-of-the-road voters? In other words, do they make up the majority of middle-of-the road voters? Perhaps not the majority, but there are plenty of them. And Trump could have gotten a great many of them on his side with this order, but the way he handled it is likely to alienate them. I don’t think the alienation need be permanent, however.

    But I can assure you that not all middlers are disengaged. Some pay a lot of attention and they are fed up with both sides, and yet they are not extremists.

  19. Harry The Exremeist Says:

    Yep. Ive long thought Trump being able to articulate what hes doing and why would be better for what he’s trying to do. Forget liberals, I need to know he’s doing the right thing for the right reasons. That makes it easier for the rest of us to defend his positions and not get blindsided by personalities. At this point, forget the left. Neo’s right, its the middle. If what we’re doing makes sense and it is justifiable, the middle will be with us, but it makes that chore so much better if we had someone who didnt act so much like a clown at times.

  20. Beverly Says:

    Well, yes, but — the poor man hasn’t even been in office for a fortnight yet. Let’s give him time.

    It’s a huge pile to climb on top of, after all, and he’s done some amazing, seriously amazing things so far! I, for one, am sitting back with popcorn and beer and enjoying it all Immensely.

  21. expat Says:

    Erica Anderson does an interview with David French at NRO’s Corner. French basically says what Neo does, but he goes into more detail on certain aspects. It is definitely worth watching.

  22. Kell Says:

    I’m not certain I agree with the idea that this oversight on the part of the Trump Administration was really a mistake. One the one hand, it could very easily be an early error that comes from having been in office only two weeks. On the other hand, Trump has been surprisingly collected and firm during both the transition and his first days in office. Maybe it’s a weird kind of genius on Trump’s part. Issue the order as he did…the left goes nuts, and the rest of America continues to get more and more tired of the BS. The media thinks it sees a small opening and fixates on it rather than noticing they’re about to start bleeding out from the revelations about the Congressional Review Act of 1996 and the EO on reducing regulation. THOSE two things combined have the potential to gut a big chunk of their precious welfare state, and what are they talking about? A 90-day hold on travel from a handful of failed states.

  23. Ymarsakar Says:

    Well, yes, but — the poor man hasn’t even been in office for a fortnight yet. Let’s give him time.

    Nearly exact wording by Hussein loyalists in 2009.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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