Nothing in the news cycle seems to be going well for Democrats and the mainstream media (redundant, yes) these days. Joe Biden can’t form a coherent sentence, and the Tara Reade scandal is growing by the day. Wuhan flu is far less lethal than predicted and our healthcare system isn’t overwhelmed despite what critics allege was a lack of preparation and a bumbling response by the Trump administration. And, the New York Times and Politico are being forced to correct or retract their stories with increasing regularity.
An exclusive story from inside the Trump campaign painting a picture of infighting, threatened litigation, and terrible internal polls would be quite the distraction from their sorrows, wouldn’t it?
Magically, both CNN and the Washington Post have such stories, attributed to three unnamed sources (as is their modus operandi) and published less than an hour apart.
It’s obvious how desperate the Post is to get eyeballs on this story; it’s not even behind their paywall.
President Trump’s advisers presented him with the results of internal polling last week that showed him falling behind former vice president Joe Biden in key swing states in the presidential race, part of an effort by aides to curtail Trump’s freewheeling daily briefings on the pandemic, according to three people with knowledge of the conversations.
CNN’s story included some subliminal messaging for the public and painted Trump as anxious and unnerved:
Faced with an increasingly uphill battle for reelection and aides trying to steer him in new, sometimes conflicting directions, Trump has grown increasingly unnerved in the last week about his reelection prospects. Lashing out at Parscale was just the most recent manifestation of that anxiety.
Phone meetings took place on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, according to the Post, and included RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Jared Kushner, campaign manager Brad Parscale, and “other officials.” On the agenda for Wednesday’s call were the allegedly terrible results of two polls, one commissioned by the RNC and the other by the Trump campaign.
According to both WaPo and CNN, Trump’s “political team” believes that the coronavirus briefings are driving his numbers down and are concerned that they’ve become more “combative while the economy cratered and coronavirus deaths continued to rise,” and on Wednesday’s call McDaniel and Parscale allegedly urged Trump to “scale back” the briefings.
During Thursday’s briefing Trump asked his infamous disinfectant question, and by the time of Friday’s call he was in a really bad mood, according to “sources,” and “erupted” at Brad Parscale.
At one point in that call, Trump said he might sue Parscale, though one of the people with knowledge of the comments said he made the remark in jest. “I’m not losing to Joe Biden,” Trump said at one point, both of these people said, adding that the president used profanities throughout the call.
After the call, Parscale described it to others as a Trump venting session, these people said.
According to CNN, Parscale and Trump patched things up Friday night, but WaPo claims they didn’t make up until Parscale flew up to Washington on Tuesday with newer, more positive, polling results. CNN says Parscale didn’t meet with Trump in person until Wednesday, having flown in to get “face time with his boss,” and received approval for new ads attacking Joe Biden on his relationship with China.
By Wednesday evening the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman entered the fray with her own coverage but claimed to have spoken to “nearly a dozen people inside and outside the White House” for her piece and adding a few unique jabs. Like the WaPo’s piece, Haberman’s was not behind a paywall.
Of Friday’s call, Haberman wrote:
At one point, Mr. Trump said he would not lose to Mr. Biden, insisted the data was wrong and blamed the campaign manager for the fact that he is down in the polls…Mr. Trump even made a threat to sue Mr. Parscale, mentioning the money he has made while working for the president, another person familiar with the call said, although the threat did not appear to be serious.
“I love you, too,” Mr. Parscale replied, according to the people briefed on the call.
Haberman’s account also claimed Parscale returned to Washington Tuesday and claim Trump is “anxious” about losing the election.
If this entire scenario is true, is the thought of a politician exploding at campaign staff while disagreeing over strategy and even making professional threats really that outlandish? Loud disagreements between the candidate and top staffers occur in virtually every political campaign, and some get very heated. So what? That’s why all three accounts of the call go further, portraying Trump as anxious, isolated in the White House, and having too much time on his hands to mull over possibilities like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo being drafted by the DNC at the last minute to replace Joe Biden as the nominee.
It’s not hard to imagine difficult conversations taking place within either campaign (Trump or Biden) right now, but it’s very difficult to imagine a dozen campaign staffers talking with CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.