Analysis: Trump can’t help stepping on good news

By Paul Farhi | Washington Post

The monthly jobs report was another positive one, but President Donald Trump couldn’t wait for its release. So an hour or so before the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced the figures on June 1, he tweeted that he was “looking forward” to seeing the numbers.

The tweet caused ripples in financial markets and set off a boomerang effect in the news media – a common reaction during the Trump era. Instead of the news being solely about the employment data, many stories focused on whether Trump had violated federal disclosure rules by hinting that the report would be positive.

Once again, Trump had accomplished a very Trumpian thing: Through his actions, he had pushed a potentially positive news story aside by generating a new, attention-generating, negative one.

It’s an axiom of politics that it’s best to avoid stepping on your own message. Public relations pros often say that silence is golden if the news is going your way. But Trump, who regularly flouts presidential norms, has repeatedly stood this notion on its head, often achieving the political equivalent of reverse engineering lemonade into lemons.

For example, on the eve of his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – a historic meeting in Singapore that could lead to a breakthrough on nuclear disarmament – Trump seemed to raise doubts . . . about himself.

“I don’t think I have to prepare very much,” he said during an Oval Office meeting last week. The comment sparked a new round of stories about whether Trump was up to the complex negotiations.

In December, the president stumped for Roy Moore, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama whose candidacy was beset by allegations that he had inappropriate relationships with teenage girls when he was in his 30s. Rather than let voters focus on Moore and his support of him, Trump added another tweet responding to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who had called for Trump’s resignation after several women accused him of sexual misconduct. “Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand . . . who would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump,” he tweeted.

Result: Less Moore, more stories about Trump’s alleged history of sexual harassment.

The month before, the president held a White House ceremony honoring Navajo code talkers, who served in the U.S. armed forces during World War II. During the event, Trump riffed on his derisive nickname for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. “We have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago,” he said. “They call her Pocahontas.” Once again, Trump’s attack on Warren became the story, not the feel-good recognition of military heroes.

Trump pre-empted his own message so many times last year that USA Today compiled the instances in a lengthy timeline. His frequent disruptions of himself have made “Infrastructure Week” – the White House’s oft-invoked thematic message – into a kind of punchline about public-relations futility.

Given the pace of …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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