Behinds Trump success against the opposition of the media and the left

Matthew Continetti:
The litany has been repeated so often that it's easy to recite: The walls are closing in on Donald Trump, person x or y or z is going to bring him down, it's only a matter of time before he is caught or exposed or loses his base of support and driven from public life. The phrases sound out from our cable channels. We see them in newspaper headlines and in our Twitter timelines. This time Trump has gone too far. The end is near. Take that, Drumpf!

What is forgotten is that the president has operated in this atmosphere of emergency and crisis and imminent doom since he announced his campaign. No matter how dire the outcry, he moves on. His political standing remains stable. At the end of last week, after Manafort and Cohen, after Trump found himself on the receiving end of the reality politics playbook, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal polled his job approval. There was no appreciable change.

Why? The most important reason has to be the remarkable state of the American economy. On Election Day 2016, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 18,332.43. On August 29, it closed at 26,124.57. That is an increase of some 40 percent. Other indices show similar gains. Growth in GDP went from 1.5 percent in 2016 to 2.3 percent in 2017 and, helped by the excellent 4.2 percent number in the second quarter, is forecast for around 3 percent in 2018.

The jobs engine is humming. Unemployment is at 3.9 percent, with record lows among minorities. Workers say they are satisfied with their jobs at the highest rate since 2005. For good reason: Both median household income and per capita disposable income are at all time highs. Consumers are spending. Confidence is near an 18-year high. According to the Harvard-Harris poll, 85 percent of blue-collar workers say things are headed in the right direction.
The economic boom is crucial in understanding why Trump enjoys the 88 percent approval among Republicans that keeps him politically viable. There are other factors too. Recent days brought two of them into sharp relief. Trump continues to goad, highlight, and benefit from an antagonistic news media. The overwhelmingly negative coverage of Trump paradoxically works to his advantage by driving his supporters to rally to his side. When the press gets a story wrong, Trump is vindicated. His voters have less reason to trust the elite media institutions they see as allied against them in a struggle over American identity.

CNN may well have reasons to stand by its story that the president had advance knowledge of the 2016 meeting with Russians in Trump Tower. It's embarrassing that the network has refused to share those reasons after Michael Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis revealed himself to be the anonymous source for the story and recanted his statement. Media obsession with Trump and scandal helps the president in other ways. For one, the scandals are confusing and increasingly self-referential. Only political professionals and junkies can keep track of them. The headlines run together. The talking heads are background noise to men and women outside the bubble.

The media fixation hands Trump the initiative. Because so much of the news is based off of his Twitter feed, he can create storylines, and spark confusion and outrage, with the push of a button. This ability lets him shift attention from current controversies by creating fresh ones. The ongoing hysteria lessens the cost to Trump of each bad story. It also allows him to portray media institutions and figures as insiders contemptuous of Trump voters and eager to overturn the result of a presidential election.
CNN is in a dilemma because they claimed to have more than one source for their piece on the Trump Tower meeting and the only one who is publicly outed himself says he got it wrong.  They will not say it, but I think they are reluctant to burn other sources who could be stigmatized by their reporting. 

I think Continetti is right about how the hostility of the media works against it with Trump.  They took the position early on that they did not have to be fair to Trump and they are sticking to it even when they get stories wrong.  They are shrinking theri own credibility more than Trumps.


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