Trump vs. the Press: A losing media strategy

Farr Marketing Group is apolitical. We don’t endorse or criticize political candidates.  But I found it interesting when presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump held a news conference to showcase the funds he said he raised for veterans.

Into the presser, it was clear that while he listed the veterans’ charities that he said received $5.6 million in donations due to his efforts, the real purpose of the news conference was to lambast the news media for their coverage of him and his campaign.  Most presidents have a love/hate relationship with the news media.  They love receiving credit when credit is due, and hate being criticized when things go wrong.  Most people are the same, it’s just that when it comes to the president, the stakes are much higher.

Donald Trump obviously doesn’t like being criticized and he made it very clear “game on” in his press battle.  For most of his career he has shot back at anybody and everybody who dare offer a critical word of him.  So this is nothing new.  The issue is that he is running for president and being at war with the media is not a very smart strategy for a successful presidency (if it comes to that).

It’s hard to image presidential-media relations at a lower point than during Richard Nixon’s Watergate era tenure.  When Watergate was the only thing the press wrote about, regardless of what Nixon did, he almost had a public breakdown.  It was out front and personal when Nixon was filmed pushing press secretary Ron Ziegler towards the media at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, implying Ziegler needed to get rid of them.  I remember seeing the footage as a journalism student and feeling sorry for the humiliation Ziegler endured.

Trump seems to have thicker skin and more experience dishing it out and taking it.  But if the ultimate goal of a president is to get his/her agenda through congress and approval by the American public, then being at war with the media is not the way to do it.  They will just hate everything he does, because his presidency is no longer about policy.  It’s personal.

Love or hate Trump, it’s clear he is not stupid.  And his “let the chips fall where they may” attitude seems to be working for his candidacy.

Our firm is not advising the Trump campaign.  But if we were, we’d suggest that Donald Trump, who seems to not take advice for anyone, take a look down the road should he become president.

To be hammered day in and day out, minute in and minute out by the press, is not a smart presidential strategy.