The media still hasn't figured out how to deal with Trump and his weaseling skills.
They are using the, "If a democrat did this..." model. That one was blown out of the water early. But Trump has even surpassed the "It's Okay When You Are Republican" model. And they are light years away from the "If a regular person did this"..." model. Normal, Democratic, Republican and Decent people norms haven't been applying to Trump. The media hasn't adapted, but we need to.
Now I could coach the press on how to bust him, but they are too busy trying to figure out how to stop being humiliated daily.
In a recent Talking Points Memo Josh Marshall was telling the MSM to stop being crybabies about losing access. I saw how Bush treated the DC press like dirt and they ate it up. My friend Eric Boehlert's great book Lapdogs was all about how the press rolled over for Bush.
If journalists do get kicked out of the press conferences they might noticing how Trump plays them. Most of the MSM are beyond help, but that doesn't mean that WE can't help some good ones do their job, or do it ourselves.
In the piece Marshall also said, "If you're an activist or politician start mobilizing against his corruption."
I totally agree with this. And when we do, we need to understand how any stories we uncover about him and his corruption will be covered by the mainstream media.
We also need to anticipate how Trump will flip a narrative or twist reality to shut down a story. We need to learn to give the press multiple story lines.
That means we might start with salacious headlines but keep going deeper than the surface story.
The reason for this is that in the era of Twitter, Trump is alway getting the last word. Getting him to respond to each new aspect of the story gives it legs. Sadly the media do NOT think about extending stories--so we need to.
Preparing a story needs to be like preparing a multi-tiered legal case.
We are up against a lawyer in a $5,000 suit with mob ties and a Russian flag pin. We need to prepare for counter narratives, blatant lying, threatening tweets and visits from"Friends of Joey No-Socks,"
We need to anticipate Trump's weasling. Here is a man who mocked reporter Serge Kovaleski then lied about doing it. "I never said or did what everyone saw me do and say on that video."
Promote Journalists Who Are Weasel Killers
If Trump breaks norms when dealing with the press, the press needs to break norms dealing with him.
Who gets into the press conferences is NOT controlled by Trump and his Press Secretary! It's controlled by the White House Press Correspondents Association
People think it is easy to call out a lying politician. It's not. But it can be done. It's not just about the follow up questions. it's also about the skill of the questioner and an understanding of the right kind of questions to ask of the person and their personality type.
Trump isn't playing by the old rules of communication. He wants to shut out good journalists. We need them to get to the truth. If the rest of the WH press are too stuck in their ways, lets show them other ways to get to the truth.
Here's a idea, who would you like questioning Trump? Joy Reid? Amy Goodman? Call, write or tweet the WHPCA and asking them to get one of them to be the designated person to ask the first question. Make Amy Goodman or Joy the new Helen Thomas of the DC press core.
Let's say Amy/Joy gets kicked out of the press conference. Have the rest of the media say.
We won't ask any questions until Amy/Joy has her question asked and answered.
If Trump doesn't answer the next reporter says, "I was going to ask something else, but you didn't really answer Goodman's question...." this technique might not garner new information, but it will show him not addressing the issue.
Of course Fox and Brietbart will break ranks, but for MSM journalists they can do reporting that is based on something other than his his non-answers.
"But Spocko, how do we get the media to coordinate?" We won't! So we get in some real journalists, like John Oliver or Samantha Bee, to show them how it's done. Oliver has done better journalism that most broadcast journalists. I know this is a radical idea, but doesn't it sound like something the Reality Show President thinks he could handle? Then Oliver, Bee and their staff make him squirm.
Too silly? Get a reporter who is social media savvy. Get someone from the Young Turks or the Majority Report into a press conference.
Want someone with deep expertise? Demand someone who has a history as a prosecutor, who writes specialized questions on ethics and the law, to be in the room.
What can I do? I'm just a blip on the screen
Let's play a game called "I've uncovered a new case of Trump corruption!"
Think you have seen a "slam dunk" case against Trump? Ask yourself, based on what we know now about how Trump responds, what will he do to make the story fail?
|A white weasel standing up near a hole
in the brown, winter grass.
Photo credit: Jana M. Cisar / USFWS
weasel, winter coat weasel white weasel
Maybe you spotted the damning info and evidence of corruption, but that is not enough. You must keep working up the chain of each scandal/story. We know that stories will be dismissed, spun and normalized, so think about what would it take to up the stakes or solidify the story following each dismissal or spin.
We need to anticipate how Team Trump will turn stories about him around. His ego means he will turn every story into one where he is the real victim or the winner.
We have seen Trump and his supporters change what would be a major liability for others into an asset. Sexual assault becomes locker room talk or something that Putin and other tough guys could see themselves doing. (BTW, I gamed out the PeeGate Tape just for grins. I now have a very frightening grin)
We need to prepare for how the "neutral media" will write about us and the stories we uncover or we promote.
I know that the people on the left are disgusted watching how easily the media are out maneuvered. The media haven't adapted, but neither have our expectations of the media. Our ability to be the media has grown, but we still are put into weak narratives by journalists and pundits.
Sometimes we need to do the media's job for them. That means reinjecting ourselves in the process. That isn't as hard as it sounds. Especially if we understand and use the instant feedback seen in social media. Did you find a story that you think is good but didn't go far enough? Share it on Facebook or Twitter and add a layer of info or insight.
Here is what Tengrain. over at Mock Paper Scissors, had to say about an earlier version of this post.
There’s a certain amount of easy activism that Spocko is pointing out to us, too. You don’t have to be the writers of these stories, but you have to be the readers of them. And at the end of almost every story there is the equivalent of our Thumbs-Up button. Get those stories trending.
Post them to Facebook and Twitter. Promote them, help them trend.
My composition teachers always told us to know who your audience is (as well as to know who the story is really about) and sometimes it’s not obvious. But if you do decide to follow Spocko’s advice (and I think it is sound), and if you are blogging (and I suspect the second Golden Age of citizen journalists is upon us; it takes a good villain), connect the dots. Get the CEO and the Representative to pick up the phone and yell at Trump.
I know that playing the "Trump is an idiot" card is fun. But playing cards with an idiot savant who can memorize the deck is going to lead to losing.