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Horowitz: Trump is Not a Victim

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Rob Horowitz

It is time for President Trump’s allies in the media to realize that he makes neither an appealing nor credible martyr. Attributing his woes to  an unfair, all out attack from the ‘deep state’ and what Sean Hannity calls the “alt-left Hillary colluding media” is not only just plain wrong; it ill serves Trump by encouraging his own misplaced sense of victim-hood.

After all, President Trump isn’t exactly keeping a stiff upper lip. He recently proclaimed, “no politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly,”  Trump delivered this self-pitying overstatement as part of a Commencement Address at the Coast Guard Academy It is the opposite of the kind of inspiration one expects from a Commander in Chief. But it reflects an all too frequent kind of whining to which this President specializes.

While some of the coverage of President Trump certainly has been unfair and inaccurate, by and large, Trump is receiving overwhelmingly negative media coverage because of his own ill-advised actions and reckless disregard for the truth. After all, President Trump is the one  who ham-handedly fired James Comey, the FBI Director who was leading the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and his campaign. He was the one who sanctioned a false and absurd cover story about why Comey was fired, then abandoned it when it fell apart, admitting he was thinking about the Russia investigation. President Trump was the one who appointed General Flynn as National Security Adviser, despite all the obvious warning signs. President Trump was the one who shared highly classified information that set back our national security with the Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador. And President Trump was the one, when given an opportunity to reset after the appointment of Bob Mueller as Special Counsel--- an appointment brought about by Trump’s own at a minimum inappropriate actions-- ill-advisedly attacked this decision of his own Deputy Attorney General, saying it will keep the country divided.

It is the case that the media coverage is being fueled by an unusually large number of leaks. But many of these leaks are coming directly from Trump’s own White House staff. Those are in large measure a result of the kill or be killed atmosphere created by the President’s own management style in which he plays people off against each other, blames staff for his own mistakes, and never takes any responsibility when things go wrong. Other leaks are a result of the fact that long-time civil servants are watching the President do things they believe are highly damaging to our national interest and feel an obligation to warn the nation. Trump’s own actions and behavior underlie the blizzard of leaks.

The only way President Trump will save his presidency is if he looks at his problems squarely. Right now, that begins and ends with looking in the mirror. Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Jeffrey Lord and Mollie Hemingway as well as the whole gang at Breitbart would serve their hero’s long-term interests much better if they took a page from Trump ally Newt Gingrich’s periodic public criticisms of Trump during the 2016 campaign. When Trump was doing something self-destructive like attacking a Gold Star family, Gingrich would speak up, realizing the best way to move Trump was through the media. His comments appeared to have a positive impact on the candidate

Gingrich did what true friends do. They don’t just tell you what you want to hear; they tell you what you need to hear.  It is time for Trump’s friends and supporters in the media to let him know that he is a big part of the problem. Serving up some reality with the puffery and unconvincing blame-shifting would not only be a service to Trump; it would be a true act of patriotism.

 Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.


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