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Inside the Beltway: Repetitive Trump attacks losing their power

September 17, 2018

Anyone out there remember details from the infamous, anonymous New York Times op-ed? Anyone? It was just one in a long line of intense, coordinated, strategic attacks on President Trump and his administration which arrive like clockwork daily, and every other word is “chaos.”

Endless attacks are not without risk, though. They can backfire. They are short-lived. They can annoy a weary public already saturated with negative politics.

“Between the op-ed, the Bob Woodward book, hurricane season bearing down, and whatever media-induced scandal tomorrow brings in addition to the daily business of running the country the White House has neither the time nor the resources to focus on this dishonorable act. Unfortunately, this whole op-ed saga has highlighted the irresponsibility of the writer and The New York Times for publishing it despite the fact it falls short of journalistic editorial standards,” Ford O’Connell, an adviser to the 2008 McCain presidential campaign and adjunct professor at the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management, tells Inside the Beltway.

The op-ed appears to have lost its savory, sensational power.

“Although this effort seems to have contributed to a temporary blip in Trump’s approval rating, it is unlikely that it will have much staying power in the long-run, particularly with the 24/7 news cycle moving at breakneck pace as we careen from media-created crisis to media-created crisis. It certainly will not loom large on voters’ minds by the time the 2018 midterms roll around, and it will certainly be all but forgotten by the all-important 2020 presidential elections,” Mr. O’Connell continues.

“What must be remembered is that President Trump has done some amazing things on the economic front and with the federal courts. He also has the potential to accomplish some positive things on trade, immigration, foreign policy and infrastructure. Hopefully, this whole ordeal will not force him to look over his shoulder or constrict the inner-circle of those he trusts and from whom he seeks counsel. If this occurs, all of America could lose; not just those who cast a vote for Donald Trump,” the professor cautions.

COMPETING KAVANAUGH HEADLINES

The nomination of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is subject to interpretation. Some headlines from the last 24 hours:

“The #MeToo Kavanaugh Ambush” (The Wall Street Journal); “Revisiting Anita Hill in the wake of the Kavanaugh allegations” (The Washington Post); “Kavanaugh confirmation: Four ways Democrats’ plan to derail nomination could backfire” (Fox News); “Six senators to watch as Kavanaugh confirmation fight heats up” (NBC News); “The Kavanaugh controversy is a watershed moment for GOP” (CNN); and “Can Kavanaugh hang on?” (Politico).

A VICTORY FOR NEWSMAX

Newsmax TV reveals that cable giant Comcast will now carry the independent conservative 24/7 cable news channel for Xfinity TV customers on the “X1” platform. The deal will enable Newsmax to reach up to 80 million homes by the end of 2019.

“Comcast is the largest cable operator in the nation and we appreciate their decision to recognize Newsmax TV as a valuable independent programmer for their viewers,” notes CEO Michael Clemente, who adds that Newsmax plans to ramp up its programming, preparing for 2020 presidential election coverage that will begin in earnest next year.

BROADCASTERS OBSESSED WITH ‘ANGRY’ TRUMP

Broadcasters have a very limited lexicon when it comes to describing President Trump, according to a nine-month study of the exact words used in major broadcast coverage. Mr. Trump is primarily described as angry, fuming and outraged and it’s a calculated strategy.

“TV news reporters have saturated the airwaves with subjective language about the President’s emotional state, most of it casting him as an out-of-control hothead,” wrote Rich Noyes and Bill D’Agostino, both senior analysts for Newsbusters.org, a conservative press watchdog.

They looked at every single evening-news story on the broadcast networks about the president from Jan. 1 through Sept. 10, then tallied the number of times these bombastic terms were used.

“Broadcast journalists were most likely to describe the President as angry, often using highly-charged words to paint him as unhinged or out-of-control,” the analysts said. “Viewers heard Trump variously described as ‘furious’ (17 times), ‘fuming’ (14), ‘outraged’ (8), ‘venting’ (5), ‘infuriated’ (5), ‘livid’ (3), ‘enraged’ (3), ‘seething’ (2), or just plain-old ‘angry’ (23).

“When Trump communicated, he was said to be ‘lashing out’ (53), on a ‘tirade’ (8), ‘blasting’ (5), or ‘erupting’ (3),” they wrote. “The President was also ‘on the warpath,’ ‘volcanic,’ ‘unglued,’ ‘spoiling for a fight’ and even ‘went ballistic,’ according to reporters at various times this year.”

In all, Mr. Trump was described as angry in one form or another 185 times so this year. Broadcast reports also used terms to indicate Mr. Trump was frustrated or dismayed 30 times. He was also said to be “worried,” “anxious,” “shaken” or “afraid” 14 times.

Reporters only described Mr. Trump’s state of mind as positive a total of 23 times during the nine-month study period, using words such as “delighted” and “gleeful.”

POLL DU JOUR

66 percent of Americans have confidence in their state and local officials to protect midterm elections results; 64 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of independents and 70 percent of Democrats agree.

63 percent overall think it’s a top priority to keep U.S. elections safe and secure; 56 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of independents and 72 percent of Democrats agree.

53 percent overall think the U.S. is prepared to keep midterm results safe and secure; 74 percent of Republicans, 51 percent of independents and 36 percent of Democrats agree.

39 percent overall have says Democrats in Congress protect midterms from foreign interference; 32 percent of Republicans, 27 percent of independents and 50 percent of Democrats agree.

34 percent overall have says Republicans in Congress protect midterms from foreign interference; 66 percent of Republicans, 8 percent of independents and 27 percent of Democrats agree.

23 percent overall have confidence in federal election officials to protect midterm election results; 25 percent of Republicans, 23 percent of independents and 24 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: An NPR/Marist Poll of 949 U.S. adults conducted Sept. 5-9 and released Monday.

Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin

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