By James Ray Owens
After Trump’s first address to Congress, Josh Earnest, a former press secretary of President Obama, made a great remark to Stephen Colbert about fake news and the truth.
He said, “If you believe passionately that you’re doing the right thing for the right reasons, then why wouldn’t you have the confidence to go out in front of the public and make your case?”
Fake news is not a new gadget out of the Republican tool box. Remember the years they spent trying to convince the public – with some success – that Obama wasn’t a citizen of the United States? Recall the death panel craze they used to damage Obama’s healthcare reform?
Last night, Trump successfully seized the moment, he didn’t sound like he was on the campaign trail with Shock and Awe bluster. His message was the same, his policies haven’t changed, but he managed to temper it down, and being the good showman he is, he pulled a lot of people into the moment. He tried to show his dwindling base he is credible and their vote for him wasn’t wasted.
As Earnest pointed out, there is supposed to be a certain amount of friction between the White House and the press corps, but this administration has taken that normal amount of friction, the kind the makes people accountable, to a whole new level. The friction between Trump and the press has become like a scuffle between a bully and the nerdy kids in a school yard.
Donald Trump cannot handle being critiqued in any fashion. He sees the press as an opponent he must destroy. When in fact, the press does much more than carry criticism, they also carry praise when praise is due. Look at today’s headlines in the mainstream media as an example. Perhaps, the press went too far today in praising Trump, but in an effort to show they are not biased they may have laid it on a little heavy.
The Trump Administration must learn that bullying tactics do not work well, they are unsettling and distorting the truth is not a good path to push forward an agenda. His agendas would be a hard sell for the best salespeople, and that is exactly what the job of the White House Press Secretary is, to sell.
The George w. Bush Administration sold us a war, they did so tactfully, they built a case – even though the case wasn’t always based on facts. Nevertheless, Bush was successful in selling the invasion of Iraq, not by being antagonistic, but by being consistent. So far, Trump has been anything but consistent.
All of Trump’s ideas are not bad ideas. Wanting to secure our border isn’t a bad idea, for example, but building a wall that few people welcome while rounding up every undocumented immigrant in sight is a bad idea and a terrible way to sell a policy.
Furthermore, filling cabinet posts with individuals who will likely do more harm to the agencies they lead than good, is a frightful way to start a new administration. He put the American people on their heels from the his first day in office. A good leader knows, you don’t push people in the direction you prefer them to go, you lead them there.