The Jury Talks Back


About That New York Times Hit Piece On “Trump’s Bungles”…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 10:00 am

The New York Times has an article out this morning currently titled Trump and Staff Rethink Tactics After Stumbles. I say “currently” because the original title was: “After 2 Weeks, Trump’s Bungles Have Aides Rethinking Strategy”:


Trump’s “bungles.” Mmmmm, that’s good journalisming! Here’s the opening:

President Trump loves to set the day’s narrative at dawn, but the deeper story of his White House is best told at night.

Aides confer in the dark because they cannot figure out how to operate the light switches in the cabinet room. Visitors conclude their meetings and then wander around, testing doorknobs until finding one that leads to an exit. In a darkened, mostly empty West Wing, Mr. Trump’s provocative chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, finishes another 16-hour day planning new lines of attack.

Usually around 6:30 p.m., or sometimes later, Mr. Trump retires upstairs to the residence to recharge, vent and intermittently use Twitter. With his wife, Melania, and young son, Barron, staying in New York, he is almost always by himself, sometimes in the protective presence of his imposing longtime aide and former security chief, Keith Schiller. When Mr. Trump is not watching television in his bathrobe or on his phone reaching out to old campaign hands and advisers, he will sometimes set off to explore the unfamiliar surroundings of his new home.

During his first two dizzying weeks in office, Mr. Trump, an outsider president working with a surprisingly small crew of no more than a half-dozen empowered aides with virtually no familiarity with the workings of the White House or federal government, sent shock waves at home and overseas with a succession of executive orders designed to fulfill campaign promises and taunt foreign leaders.

My own first reaction to this story was to conclude that the folks in the Obama administration were jerks for not showing the new folks how to operate the lights.

The second thing I noticed was that it is written by Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman. In case you have forgotten, let’s have a quick refresher on who they are. The short answer: two hacks who used to write for POLITICO.

Thrush is the fella who would email his stories to Hillary’s campaign in advance, saying: “No worries Because I have become a hack I will send u the whole section that pertains to u. Please don’t share or tell anyone. I did this Tell me if I f**ked up anything.” The same guy who said that Hillary’s private server was “deeply disturbing, possibly illegal but u know a teensy bit badass.”

Haberman is the reporter about whom the Hillary Clinton campaign said: “We have had her tee up stories for us before and never been disappointed. . . [W]e can . . . do the most shaping by going to Maggie.” She’s also the reporter who recently asked: “Other than San Bernardino shootings, has there been a terrorist attack involving a non-US-born attacker since 9/11?” (Her suggestion that there is no foreign terrorist problem is just a leetle bit off base.)

There was another “here’s a portrait of Donald Trump based on a bunch of unnamed sources” piece co-written by Haberman on November 6, 2016. It was titled Inside Donald Trump’s Last Stand: An Anxious Nominee Seeks Assurance. Remember that? I wrote about it here. It opened with stuff like this:

Donald J. Trump is not sleeping much these days. Aboard his gold-plated jumbo jet, the Republican nominee does not like to rest or be alone with his thoughts, insisting that aides stay up and keep talking to him. He prefers the soothing, whispery voice of his son-in-law. . . . He requires constant assurance that his candidacy is on track. “Look at that crowd!” . . . And he is struggling to suppress his bottomless need for attention.

The narrative of the article was that Trump was a despairing, beleaguered candidate, unable to come to terms with how badly he was about to lose.

Two days later, Donald Trump was elected President.

The thing about that piece was that many of the individual details rang true — and yet an objective observer came away with an overarching impression that The Times was trying to create a narrative: that of a loser.

And that’s how I feel about the piece published today. The piece struggles hard to portray Trump as a bungler, back on his heels, “cloistered” and defensive and . . . watching too much television.

The bungled rollout of his executive order barring immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, a flurry of other miscues and embarrassments, and an approval rating lower than that of any comparable first-term president in the history of polling have Mr. Trump and his top staff rethinking an improvisational approach to governing that mirrors his chaotic presidential campaign, administration officials and Trump insiders said.

. . . .

Cloistered in the White House, he now has little access to his fans and supporters — an important source of feedback and validation — and feels increasingly pinched by the pressures of the job and the constant presence of protests, one of the reasons he was forced to scrap a planned trip to Milwaukee last week. For a sense of what is happening outside, he watches cable, both at night and during the day — too much in the eyes of some aides — often offering a bitter play-by-play of critics like CNN’s Don Lemon.

Does that ring true? Well, sure it does. Does anyone here really think that Donald Trump doesn’t watch a lot of TV?

Again, the facts may be mostly true, but there is a desperation here to set a narrative. And it’s a narrative people aren’t really buying, for the most part. Sure, Trump is a deeply, deeply flawed person. His statements about Vladimir Putin are jaw-droppingly irresponsible and provide propaganda for totalitarians. His obsession with his inauguration numbers and insistence on lying about them was a laughable if predictable distraction.

But there’s plenty to like. The executive order on immigration, while concededly poorly thought through and chaotically rolled out, is a fulfillment of an important campaign promise to keep our country safe. He has made an incredibly solid Supreme Court pick. Many of his cabinet picks have been encouraging. And he seems to be taking steps to rein in regulations, even if his manner in doing so has been ham-handed and ridiculous.

I’d wager that most people who were worried about him are unsurprised by the bad stuff that’s happened, and surprised by a lot of the good stuff that’s happened.

In other words, he’s not doing that bad. Unless you’re a partisan hack like Glenn Thrush or Maggie Haberman.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]


  1. I find myself struggling to balance my dislike of Trump, my disgust with the one-sided media attacks and my admiration for some of the moves Trump has made. The media’s desperation makes me want to move more and more into Trump’s camp but then he goes and feeds the fires with a stupid tweet or off-the-cuff remark that sends me back into the land of no-man’s land. I have found very few sources that I can trust and in some ways that is driving me into a place of not caring. And that more than anything is concerning to me.

    Comment by Marci — 2/6/2017 @ 12:09 pm

  2. Do the details make sense, are there any named sources,

    Comment by narciso — 2/6/2017 @ 12:54 pm

  3. Trump is a breath of fresh air after the past 8 years. Even if he channels Dangerfields Al Czervik in Caddyshack occasionally.

    Comment by gbear — 2/6/2017 @ 2:06 pm

  4. Using the classic employee review categories, DJT absolutely has earned “Exceeds Expectations.”

    Comment by Ed from SFV — 2/6/2017 @ 2:48 pm

  5. Marci–

    I think that everyone who wasn’t swimming in the Kool-Aid is having some periods of extreme cognitive dissonance.

    I mean, Trump may be doing some very good things, but he’s still such an assh0le.

    Comment by Kevin M — 2/6/2017 @ 2:50 pm

  6. The whole point of narratives is that they “ring true”. The narrative is what we are already pre-disposed to believe. Stories are easier to understand than a big pile of facts.

    That’s why selection of facts is so important in creating journalism, of the biased or the unbiased variety. That’s why “alternative facts” are so important-facts that cast doubt on the media narrative, or facts that support a different narrative.

    We’ve all laughed about those hot-coffee warning labels. At the time the media reported on the McDonald’s coffee lawsuits as “what’s wrong with people these days, needing to be told coffee is hot”.

    But the alternative facts, that were not presented at the time with the same sort of emphasis, told a different story: that McDonald’s was serving coffee just under boiling because it meant they didn’t have to throw the coffee out as often, and that virtually no consumer brews coffee at home to anything like that temperature. And so the narrative of “idiot customer with frivolous lawsuit” is thereby impeached.

    And so what sources can we trust? None. Get as many facts as you can. Never think one source is giving you the whole story. Assume every source is trying to feed you a narrative, ask yourself what facts would impeach it, and seek those facts.

    It’s more work than most of us like to give reading the news, but it’s what we have to do.

    Comment by Gabriel Hanna — 2/6/2017 @ 3:51 pm

  7. Marci,


    The last administration did a lot wrong, so it’s refreshing when the current administration does something right.

    So you want to stick up for that. And you want to call out the dishonest bias against Trump.

    But then you see Trump’s corruption or dishonesty and you want to call that out. Or you see something dishonest from some of his supporters, who are often pretty difficult to stomach in my opinion, and you want to call that out.

    All in all, the difficulty Trump’s critics feel is simply a reflection of how fallen we are right now, and of your own integrity.

    Comment by Dustin — 2/6/2017 @ 5:01 pm

  8. The pieces ring like the fake news Dr evil and normal desmond sold to halperin and heileman about the huntress, details they couldn’t have possibly been privy to, yet new York magazine bought it

    Comment by narciso — 2/6/2017 @ 5:50 pm

  9. But, what about your gaaaaaffes?!? Trump elected President, women and minorities hardest hit. I was really prepared to suffer through whichever candidate won in 2016, unable to pull a lever for, or against, either, and still sleep at night. When Trump got elected, I found myself at least a little relieved, though not as much as surprised. I took some consolation in knowing 99.44% of Democrats would be opposed to anything he did, about 95% of the press, and a solid number (if only minority) of Republicans would be willing to stand up to him if he ever went truly out of bounds. I had no such confidence a Hillary Presidency would be held in similar check.

    Now, I haven’t exactly come to regret my write-in protest vote, but I am surprised to find myself pondering what I might do in 2020, if the press and Democrats keep up their “resistance, up to 11″ project. Not that I can’t also see backing another Republican in a primary challenge, but that’ll be up to Trump, and not the press.

    Comment by Quibus Vigilius — 2/6/2017 @ 6:08 pm

  10. Regarding the leaked phone transcripts; if it’s true that it was leaked by Obama admin holdovers, it highlights a major competency issue on the part of the Trump administration.

    The biggest issue is why, exactly, low level people would have any access whatsoever to national security information such as those transcripts. There’s no excuse for that.

    Secondly, it highlights a need to fully clean out the holdovers.

    Comment by Arizona CJ — 2/6/2017 @ 6:43 pm

  11. Did you see enemy of the state, you think its impossible for some e gs 15 to be conducting a private vendetta

    Comment by narciso — 2/6/2017 @ 6:50 pm

  12. Thorn again ad with the crowdstrike report and the dodge dossier they probably contracted out the work

    Comment by narciso — 2/6/2017 @ 10:01 pm

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