Trump, the Media, and the 2020 Election

Trump, the Media, and the 2020 Election
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

President Donald Trump listens during a briefing about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

On March 25th, Gallup released the results of a poll on respondent views on how individuals and institutions were responding to the coronavirus outbreak.  Hospitals finished atop the pyramid at 88%.  Surprising even Democrats was President Trump at 60%.  Some of that may be the “rally around the flag” effect, much like the approval ratings of Bush II soared into stratospheric levels after 9/11.

It is true that Trump was not particularly popular in 2016.  But, he had two things going for him.  First, as unpopular as Trump may have been, Hillary Clinton was even more so.  Second, Trump convinced enough voters in enough swing states of that fact.  Looking at the 2020 polls thus far which the people on the Left are touting at this early stage, they show Joe Biden out front nationally, and in those key states Trump needs to win come November.  Even still, those actually placing money on the election’s outcome are going with Trump.  They are usually the ones who are better pollsters than actual pollsters.  Besides- polls are polls and they proved nothing in 2016.

If you look within those Gallup poll results, it may give a clue as to where Trump takes his campaign once it resumes.  It may boil down to a “You don’t like me, but look at what is worse!” campaign.  Congress came in at 59%- not far behind the President.  Of course, that was before Nancy Pelosi flew back into DC and delayed the passage of a relief package.  A one percentage point may not seem that great, but in a close election, it could make a huge difference.

Thus, it makes sense out of Trump targeting Democrat obstruction in the House and his proxies of portraying Schumer wiping Pelosi’s butt in the morning.  Perhaps, he is channeling Harry Truman who ran not so much against Thomas Dewey than he ran against the Republican Congress at the time. That campaign, like the 2016 Trump campaign, is often described as “asymmetric.”  It worked both times.  Even if Biden is the nominee, Trump can marginalize and dismiss him- not a hard task- and take on a liberal, Democrat-controlled Congress.

However, there is an even easier target out there- the media.  They came in dead last in that Gallup poll at 44% with 55% disapproval of their performance.  It is possible that the 2020 campaign can be “asymmetry times two.”  People lost track a long time ago of the number of times Trump has invoked the phrases “fake news” or “lying media,” or some derivative thereof.  In Trump’s view (more on the correctness of that view in a minute), he is portraying the media out to sabotage the country and his reelection chances.  His daily coronavirus update press conferences have been an ongoing food fight most days with people who call themselves “journalists.”

The campaign of 1972 is recent enough for Trump to remember.  Then, Richard Nixon was engaged in an ongoing battle with the media.  His campaign was gentle compared to the Trump-media slugfest, yet Nixon went onto a landslide victory.  Perhaps that is why the Democrats shunned Bernie Sanders- a George McGovern on socialist steroids.

There is ample evidence Trump’s view of the media is the correct view.  The media has been all-to-willing to make themselves part of the political story in 2020.  Mostly, it has not helped the Democrats.   And it is nothing new.  Back in 1993, a reporter for the Washington Post described Christian voters as “poor, uneducated, and easy to command.”  The obvious contempt bred counter-contempt and the GOP was swept into power in the House and Senate.

Fast forward to 2020 and we see and hear the same thing.  People will not forget that Don Lemon cackle-fest on CNN.  The GOP immediately seized upon it and fundraised off of it.  In the heat of the coronavirus panic, the New York Times ran this opinion hit piece: ““The Road to Coronavirus Hell Was Paved by Evangelicals.”

The dynamic is obvious.  The media attacks Trump, Republicans, conservatives, and Christians repeatedly and with delight.  The only difference is what suits them at the moment and what the editors think will get the most views and clicks.  They, after all, want to be the story.  In response, Trump and company attack back against the media, liberals, and Democrats.  However, Trump has that uncanny ability to make it easy: he simultaneously attacks all three at once.

Democrats and liberal commentators have become comfortable in their little blue oases of Trump hatred.  That is another advantage Trump has over them.  They are unable to see their own arrogance is alienating people, and not just Christian evangelicals this time.  While the tit-for-tat will not solve any problem the country faces- coronavirus first- it is fun to watch.  Trump proved his determination four years ago to pounce on the weaknesses of any opponent whether they were Democrat or Republican, within the government or in the media.  The key weakness for the Democrats is their compliant media.  Biden may not even get a chance to defeat Trump because Trump will be too busy beating the media.  Remember: they think they are the story and they will fall for it every time Trump pounces on them.

A collective narcissism has infected the media.  They take the phrase “The Fourth Estate” much too seriously.  The fact that Gallup poll shows the media on the bottom illustrates that Trump is winning the battle.  There are no voices out there telling them to back down; quite the opposite.  Will reap their just reward in November?


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