Every president has had disagreements with the press. Even Barack Obama, who had them fawning all over him, complained about his treatment. But Trump and the press seem to be in an all-out war.
He does have a legitimate gripe. Once respected news outlets are reporting stories that are deliberately distorted or totally false. Someone in homeland security proposed mobilizing the National Guard to catch illegals. Even though it was rejected some outlets wrote that President Trump is considering it. A totally false story had Trump removing a bust of Martin Luther King from the Oval Office.
Every president wants favorable coverage. Most go to great effort to court the media. Trump’s strategy is to throw temper tantrums. His temper was on full display at last week’s hastily called press conference. He got into arguments over trivial matters. It seems like any story he doesn’t like is “fake news”. He even claimed that the leak involving Michael Flynn was true but the story reporting it was fake. As if that wasn’t enough he tweeted that the press was the enemy of the American people.
His approach is wrong on a number of levels. First of all, it is counterproductive. Does he really think his antics will improve his coverage? I don’t think he realizes how much his bad behavior hurts his image at home and abroad. He seems to want to show that things are running smoothly but this proves the opposite. His clumsy attempt to control the news is at odds with our democratic traditions.
Someone once complained to Theodore Roosevelt about his daughter Alice’s behavior. He responded “I can be President of the United States, or I can control Alice. I cannot possibly do both.” Trump needs to decide if he wants to be an effective president or spend his time responding to every attack. He cannot possibly do both.