Trump's Twitter Battle With Press May Come With a Price - NECN
President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

The latest news on President Donald Trump's first year as president

Trump's Twitter Battle With Press May Come With a Price

While Trump's electoral base may be urging him on, the president risks alienating many Americans who have real problems

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Another Twitter firestorm for President Donald Trump came Sunday July 2, 2017. The president tweeted a video edited to show him beating up a man with a CNN logo on his face. (Published Sunday, July 2, 2017)

    Whether by whim or design, President Donald Trump keeps adding fuel to his incendiary Twitter battle against the media. The press is an easy target for the Republican president, and one his supporters love to hate.

    But the escalating conflict has diverted attention not just from Trump's failures but his claimed successes as well.

    Trump tweeted Monday that "at some point the Fake News will be forced to discuss our great jobs numbers, strong economy, success with ISIS, the border & so much else!"

    It's his own campaign against the press, though, that keeps changing the subject from that more substantive policy debate Trump claims to crave. And it has hindered Trump's ability to push his agenda through Congress, where Republicans complain about the president's lack of focus as his health-care plan is struggling, work on next year's budget is stuck and talk of a big infrastructure deal is fading.

    Mika Brzezinski Calls Trump Tweet ‘Unbelievably Alarming'

    [NATL] Mika Brzezinski Calls Trump Tweet ‘Unbelievably Alarming'

    Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” spoke out a day after President Donald Trump attacked her and Joe Scarborough on Twitter. Brzezinski said Trump's insult followed a joke she made on her show about the fake Time magazine cover that was reported to be hanging in at least four of Trump’s golf clubs. "It is unbelievably alarming that this president is so easily played…by a cable news host. What is that saying to our allies, to our enemies?" Brzezinski said.

    (Published Friday, June 30, 2017)

    Trump's latest bash was a repurposed old video he tweeted on the weekend of him fake-pummeling a wrestling promoter whose face had been replaced by the CNN logo.

    It was unprecedented, even for Trump: a sitting president, in effect promoting physical assault of a media stand-in. Media watchdogs quickly called him out.

    Unrepentant, Trump argued over the weekend that his outsized Twitter presence was part of a calculated redefinition of the presidency.

    "My use of social media is not Presidential - it's MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL," he tweeted.

    Trump spent the weekend at his private golf club in New Jersey. None of his top advisers traveled with him and his activities were closely held. There was no telling how much of his anti-press drumbeat was a calculated strategy to divert attention from his policy struggles vs. a capricious reaction to criticism.

    But Trump was clearly being egged on by his supporters, including his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., a frequent attack dog for his father.

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    [NATL] Questions Remain for Trump Administration on Niger Mission

    In Washington, there is a search for answers about the ambush in Niger that killed four U.S. Service members.

    (Published Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017)

    The younger Trump on Monday contrasted the more accepting way the media have treated a New York production of "Julius Caesar," in which a Trumpian Caesar dies in a bloody group stabbing, with the outcry over the wrestling clip.

    "CNN & dems calling Trump assassination play 'artistic expression' but WWF joke meme is 'a call for violence'? Hilarious reinforcement of FNN," the younger Trump tweeted Monday, using an acronym for what the president has begun to refer to as the "Fake News Network."

    When a CNN reporter tweeted, "Isn't pro wrestling fake?" Trump Jr. responded: "Yes, just like your coverage."

    Senior White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also piled on, tweeting that lately the "role of the media has been to retract false stories & fire liars" and that "patriotic vets died" so the press can "talk nonsense."

    Princeton University historian Julian Zelizer said that while presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Richard Nixon and George W. Bush have long distrusted and made derogatory statements about the press, Trump's sustained and personal attacks are something entirely new.

    "We haven't really seen a president who seems totally consumed, which he's been since the election, with the press as his adversary," Zelizer said, describing the wrestling tweet as unprecedented.

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    [NATL] 'Empty Barrel': White House Continues Feud With Rep in Fallen Soldier Controversy

    The Trump administration's feud with Rep. Frederica Wilson continues for the third day, with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubling down on chief of staff John Kelly's "empty barrel" critique during a Friday press conference. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, slammed Wilson in a late night tweet on Thursday, calling her "wacky." 

    (Published Friday, Oct. 20, 2017)

    While Trump's electoral base may be urging him on, Zelizer said, the president risks alienating many Americans who have real problems.

    They may get a rise out of Trump knocking the unpopular press every once in a while, he said, but "when you're focusing on 'Morning Joe' instead of health care, it could alienate voters" and make them think the president is not engaged in issues that affect them.

    "This does have consequences," he said.

    Likewise, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, said that by provoking a running battle with the press, Trump has "minimized accountability for his failures but he's also not getting credit for his successes when he distracts us."

    Jamieson blamed Trump for stoking the battle, but also chided the press for giving it undue attention.

    People care about jobs, defeating terrorism, preventing election hacks and the like, she said.

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    [NATL] Senate Quietly Passes Budget as All Attention Focused on Trump and Kelly

    The Senate cleared the way to President Donald Trump's tax plan when a $4 trillion budget plan was narrowly pushed through by GOP lawmakers Thursday - this, as attention was focused on Trump and Chief of Staff John F. Kelly's public argument with Rep. Frederica Wilson over the president's alleged mistreatment of a Gold Star widow.

    (Published Friday, Oct. 20, 2017)

    "Trump's shenanigans in his relations with the press" would be very low on the list if the public were given a checklist of priorities to choose from, she said.

    "If everything was fine all around the world, we would have the luxury of these sorts of distractions by the president and the press," she said. "In the current world, we do not have that luxury."

    It remains unclear exactly how the wrestling video found its way onto Trump's Twitter feed. Social media director Dan Scavino and the White House press office did not respond to emailed questions. A version of the video had previously appeared on Reddit, though a member of the president's team appeared to add sound and convert the file from its original format to post it.

    It's not the first time that a meme has found its way from an obscure online channel to Trump's Twitter feed. The president was criticized during the campaign for tweeting an anti-Hillary Clinton image featuring a Star of David and piles of money that had appeared in an internet forum featuring racist and hateful imagery.