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.