WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has taken to Twitter often throughout his campaign, and now his presidency, to attack the media, communicate policy decisions, critique other politicians and even to reproach members of his own cabinet.
He takes his thoughts directly to the people, with no filter from a wire service, network or news media editor.
And the number of people following his every statement rivals – or even beats – that of entire networks.
But it’s not the way things used to be done in Washington, and there are many critics – and supporters – who would like him to just stop.
They’d prefer he communicate through more traditional channels. Those White House announcements, statements, news conferences, briefings and the like.
Not Chris Buskirk, author of the brand-new book “American Greatness: How Conservatism Inc. Missed the 2016 Election and What the DC Establishment Needs to Learn.”
He defended the president’s unorthodox manner of communication in a July 27 interview on NPR.
“I think it is positive for any politician, I don’t care if it’s the president or [Minnesota Rep.] Keith Ellison, to go direct to the people and make their case, to let the people decide political decisions for themselves,” Buskirk stated.
“If we’re going to ask whether I think it’s good, bad or otherwise for politicians to disintermediate, that is to communicate directly with their constituents, I think that’s an unmitigated good. That gives people direct access to the information, and they can make their own decisions,” he said.
The strategy also forces the media, which is used to defining the message, to decide how to present information which is already available and widely seen by the American public, he said.
This puts more pressure on the media to get their take on the information out quickly, taking away time to reflect and put a spin on it.
“It’s up to people in the media – you, me, others – to figure out what to do with that information,” Buskirk said. “I think that raises the stakes for people in the media to try and respond quickly and intelligently. That’s the difficult part.”
This has led to some resentment of the president by the press, and has fueled an already nasty war between Trump and the media – one which Buskirk thinks the president is winning.
“The American public in general has a loss of faith in some of the major institutions in politics and the culture. That has its own set of concerns,” he said. “I look at polling data on this, and you see the president with a job approval rating someplace in the 40s, depending on the day. But the media’s in the 30s, and Congress is sort of ten or twelve percent.”
This applies not only to the mainstream media, but also the conservative press, according to Buskirk. Nobody took Donald Trump seriously until the moment his victory was announced on November 8, 2016, and Buskirk thinks this exposed the similarity between the mainstream and conservative media outlets that had until then gone unnoticed.
“This is something that has been going on for a long time, but it sort of came to the fore in 2015 and 2016,” he explained. “It left me sort of scratching my head, saying well why is it that the editors at National Review or the editors at the Weekly Standard seem to have more in common with the editors at Buzzfeed or the editors at Vice than they do with the voters when it comes to the presidential election. I thought, this tells me something.
“Like the president, don’t like the president, you have to say that this is unusual,” Buskirk continued. “There has always been this stark divide on politics. There’s a right-left divider, at least there has been a right-left divider. That’s what our politics is about, how we decide between one vision of government and the other . . . but when I saw the entire mainstream or establishment media, right and left, converging and coalescing around a single opinion, I found that troubling, and that made me start to think.”
“American Greatness: How Conservatism Inc. Missed the 2016 Election and What the DC Establishment Needs to Learn” analyzes these trends Buskirk noticed in the 2016 election cycle in the media.
It doesn’t focus merely on the mainstream media’s obvious liberal bias; he is equally scathing about the conservative writers and thinkers who were so off the mark when it came to Donald Trump’s candidacy.
He also lays out a plan for moving forward, so the next “Trump” candidacy is not overlooked.