Not since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s use the medium of radio to reach his citizens has an incoming president seized a new medium so well to speak directly to America.
Through his use of tweets, Donald Trump is showing the country and the national media a new way of communicating to his constituents, and the communication elites are not liking the new direction.
When his Vice President-elect Mike Pence was lectured at a Broadway Theater, Trump turned the occasion into another lesson for distractors.
He also demonstrated once again his mastery of social media, which the national media has not caught onto as of yet.
Simply put, he got his message out there within hours, forcing the national media to include it in its coverage of the original incident.
Throughout his campaign, Trump immediately swatted back at any negative charge either on television or via tweets. This forced media types to report his quick responses, often negating the impact of the intended assault. So too, after his victory when his running mate was attacked, he move swiftly, not permitting the hectoring to stand alone.
Trump has decided to continue this approach into the White House and could be an important tool for getting his agenda enacted and implemented.
As Trump makes his cabinet appointments, he is also staying ahead of the media, sending his message directly to the people via tweets and careful sound blasts.
In the run up to his inauguration, Trump is also changing the ground rules for communicating with his fellow citizens.
The national media clearly thinks it is business as usual, trying to establish the national agenda on its terms a daily basis. Trump has other ideas.
While the national media has been trying to force issue on Trump, he has stayed a step ahead by changing ground rules and even geography.
For instance, taking his search for cabinet appointees to Bedminster, New Jersey and forcing the national media out of their natural home in New York City. As one reporter quipped: “Now we have to sit in a country club bar and drink daiquiris.”
As any good negotiator will admit, getting the adversary away from their home field is always smart agenda setting. Trump has already moved the goal posts once and shows no signs of changing the media tactics that helped sealed his Presidential victory.
Trump apparently has realized that at least for the first part of his administration, the media will, with few exceptions, be adversarial.
For their part, the national media is paying lip-service to its mea culpa about coverage of the Trump campaign. In the first two weeks of the transition period, the media has, for the most part, exaggerated the conflicts and schisms within the transition team seizing on every apparent difference.
The fact Trump has reached out to Democrats, former adversaries like Mitt Romney, and talked to religious leaders from all denominations has been buried under negative stories about conflicts.
Ironically, the national media has been slow to understand and report on the influence son-in-law Jared C. Kushner. Here is an important operative working in front of the media who was not identified until the business of setting up the administration was underway. What’s more, these stories have not been altogether flattering for the relatively young businessman.
Compare this for the warm, glowing stories told by the media about the Hillary Clinton plans for her administration before election night. Clearly the national media thought she would win.
For the most part, Trump has shown a remarkable talent for reaching out to advisors of all stripes as he tries to build a national unity agenda.
His ability to reach beyond the national media to get his ideas and programs accepted is the most encouraging sign the nation has to his effectiveness as a leader.