Well, it’s been about 8 days since Donald Trump officially became President. Here are some facts that have jumped out to me about his administration:
1. Trump is influenced heavily by what he sees on TV, especially CNN and Fox News.
Starting with the crowd size kerfuffle, it’s clear that image matters a lot to President Trump. He was upset when he saw reports on CNN comparing his smaller crowd with the one at the Inauguration of President Obama in 2009. He was so incensed that he sent his newly-minted spokesman out to argue with the Press Corps about it. This was widely seen as a huge disaster, since it was done in such haste and with such lack of preparation, and was ultimately a losing argument anyway.
That has been a pattern throughout the week: Trump reacts to what he sees on television. Perhaps the most striking example was this:
14 minutes apart: Fox says “ungrateful traitor,” Trump says “ungrateful traitor,” Fox says “weak leader,” Trump says “weak leader.” pic.twitter.com/f7urTOUG1L
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 26, 2017
Bottom line: Trump watches the news, and responds to what he sees. This is interesting because it inadvertently makes Fox News and CNN way more powerful than they already were, since they are clearly influencing the opinions of the most powerful man in the world.
If I were an executive at either network, I’d be delighted by this. It means that their reports now carry unprecedented weight. This could be used to shape the President’s agenda in a variety of ways.
2. Stephen Bannon is the driving force behind the administration’s actions.
Not really a surprise, but good to have it confirmed. Bannon’s hand was obvious in Trump’s inaugural address, and all subsequent actions have conformed to Bannon’s pro-nationalist, anti-globalist philosophy.
Clearly, Bannon is the main guy Trump listens to. What is not yet clear is whether Trump’s other advisors are ok with this, or if they are disagreeing with Bannon and being overruled. I suspect, based on the leaks that have occurred so far, that at least some of them are not satisfied with this state of affairs.
There appear to be two distinct lines of command that go as follows:
Note which one of these branches is tasked with crafting substantive action, and which one was used for a pointless and unwinnable argument with the press.