HORIST: Unspinning the ‘bad’ news
If you have been following the Big Seven (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, New York Times and Washington Post) for the past couple weeks, you will have been told over and over again – and even over again – that the news for Donald Trump has been very, very – and one more very – bad.
In between all the doom and gloom reports, and the efforts by the press to treat Trump, Republicans and conservatives like a game of Whack-a-Mole, you may have heard the whisper of countervailing news. Ever so reluctantly, an occasional inhabitant of the New York City/Washington D.C. media bubble lets out that Trump’s polling numbers are (drum roll) going up.
This is very disheartening and confusing to the #nevertrump folks. They cannot understand or accept that reality any more than they could the 2016 presidential election. How can this be? Well, the answer is rather simple. A whole lot of Americans simply do not believe the constant negative spin put on anything to do with Trump. The public is a lot smarter than they think.
To really understand how the negative spin works, or does not work, one needs to look at specific narratives and consider the alternative view. Some of the alternative perspectives correct mistakes and lies, some are equally plausible assumptions. In each case, it just demonstrates that there are always two sides to every story, narrative and spin. For example:
SPIN: The public has a right to know the truth about the relationship between Trump and Stormy Daniels.
OR: Most Americans could care less and wish she and her attorney would just go away.
SPIN: The fact that Trump is not tweeting about Stormy Daniels means that he knows he is in deep trouble.
OR: Trump has publicly responded on that issue and has no reason repeat himself even if the press keeps going over the same ground and wants a reason to keep that issue at the top of the news.
SPIN: The $130,000 pay off was a campaign contribution and could get Trump indicted by Special Counsel Mueller.
OR: Whether it is or is not a violation is up to the Federal Election Commission and even if they determine that it is, it will likely result in nothing more than a fine to be paid by Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen. Were Mueller to go down this path, he would destroy his credibility and give credence to the witch hunt claims.
SPIN: Trump is on the verge of firing Mueller.
OR: Trump said he would not and despite more than a year of reporting, this is a nothing-new-story on almost a daily basis, it has not happened.
SPIN: Trump is going to fire Attorney General Sessions.
OR: Despite more than a year of reporting this story on almost a daily basis, it has not happened.
SPIN: Trump will undo the sanctions on Russia imposed by Obama and return the seized facilities.
OR: Never happened.
SPIN: Trump denies the Russians interfered in US elections and called the whole thing a hoax.
OR: Trump has said that he believes that Russia has interfered on several occasions, and that so has China, Iran and other nations. When using the word “hoax” he is talking about the accusations of collusion.
SPIN: Trump hurt relations with our NATO allies by publicly scolding them for not paying their fair share.
OR: He got them to increase their contributions – something other presidents could not do.
SPIN: Trump wants to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.
OR: Trump has proposed a TEMPORARY halt on most people (of any religion) from certain nations with ineffective vetting information – a list of problematic nations proposed by President Obama. It will affect a very small percentage of the world Muslims.
SPIN: Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem is a reckless policy that will complicate Mideast negotiations.
OR: It is a fulfillment of a longstanding U.S. policy and will remove that issue as a complication in negotiations.
SPIN: Trump hates Muslims.
OR: Trump was able to assemble 58 Muslim-majority heads of state to lay out a coordinated plan to fight terrorism, which already is producing results.
SPIN: Trump’s tough talk on ISIS will only help their recruitment efforts.
OR: Trump’s policies have led to the collapse of the caliphate and has drastically reduced the power of ISIS.
SPIN: Trump is mentally impaired.
OR: He passes his physical and mental examination with flying colors. End of subject.
SPIN: Trump will not say anything against Russia and Putin.
OR: Trump has condemned Russia on several occasions, and his Secretary of State, UN Ambassador, CIA Director and other administration officials have offered up the strongest condemnations of any administration in recent years.
SPIN: The above-mentioned officials are speaking contrary to Trump policy.
OR: Utter nonsense. They speak for the President … period. Trump has a history of publicly disagreeing with his own appointees. He has never countered those tough statements.
SPIN: Trump will not do anything that opposes Russia.
OR: Actions speak louder than even the President’s personal silence. To wit: Syrian bombing, arming Ukraine, undermining Russian gas sales in Europe, reclaiming Syrian airspace restricted by Russia, strengthening NATO and adding a new member, signing sanctions bill, expelling 60 Russian intel officers, closing the consulate in Seattle, organizing other nations to expel Russian diplomats.
SPIN: The Trump campaign, and Trump himself, are guilty of collusion with the Russians.
OR: Collusion is not even a crime and there has been no evidence to prove any wrongdoing on that subject.
SPIN: Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice.
OR: No evidence to substantiate that political accusation.
SPIN: Trump is reckless in his personal view that military actions against North Korea is “on the table.”
OR: Trump’s maintaining a military option has been the stated policy of past administrations, including George Bush and Barack Obama. Of course, once they had paid lip service to that policy, they immediately negated it by declaring that military action would never happen. Trump has made it a credible threat – and that is the only kind that works.
SPIN: Trump congratulated Putin’s election when he should not have because staff said not to do so.
OR: It is normal protocol to congratulate heads of state. Obama made the similar calls. Presidents are not obligated to take orders from staff and very often do not.
SPIN: Trump did not raise election meddling with Putin in that phone call.
OR: Was not appropriate at that time since he did not wish to reveal the expulsion plans.
SPIN: By getting out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Trump has given China free reign in Southeast Asia.
OR: The TPP omnibus trade approach has been disadvantageous to US trade throughout the region. Trump is currently engaged in one-on-one negotiations that will provide the U.S. with better trade deals on a bilateral basis. US influence in the region is also based on several nations in Southeast Asia which stand in opposition to Chinese territorial claims of the South China Sea.
SPIN: The bilateral talks between North and South Korea and the meeting between Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-un have cut Trump out of the process.
OR: Trump’s pressure on North Korea have brought Kim to the table and the talks are encouraged by Trump as preliminary to a possible US/North Korea talk.
SPIN: Trump is eager for war with North Korea, and appointing John Bolton as National security advisor proves it.
OR: Trump understands that the threat of military action must be credible, or it has no impact. Bolton believes that the way to prevent war is to exhibit a strong military AND a willingness to use it.
SPIN: Renegotiating NAFTA is hurting the US relationship with Mexico and Canada.
OR: The presidents of both nations have said otherwise – that they understand the desire of the US to have a fairer trade policy.
SPIN: Trump wants to kick the Dreamers out of the country by ending the DACA program.
OR: Trump did not end the programs. It was due to end according to Obama’s temporary Executive Order. Trump wants Congress to give 1.8 million (more than the Democrats) permanent status by congressional action – as the Constitution requires. Obama’s stay is likely to be struck down by cases currently going through the courts – as would any similar order by Trump.
SPIN: Trump caused the firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for political reasons.
OR: The recommendation to fire McCabe came from the non-partisan FBI Inspector General and the Office of Responsible Conduct for lying to investigators.
SPIN: Trump is planning to pardon Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates.
OR: Not only has Trump denied it, it makes no sense. Whatever information they are willing to provide Mueller is already in the hands of the Special Counsel.
SPIN: Trump is in the bag with the National Rifle Association.
OR: Trump will use his authority to ban bump stocks, supports background checks and is open to raising the age to purchase a rifle to 21. Signed a budget that provides billions for school safety.
SPIN: Trump’s trade policies and personal scandals are hurting the stock market.
OR: Since Trump’s election the stock market has soared, and even the periodic corrections have been less severe and of shorter term than critics predicted.
SPIN: The departure of Communications Director Hope Hicks will have Trump unraveling emotionally.
OR: While a close aide, Hicks has never been considered a pillar of Trump’s ability to function. Why now? What is the basis of this gossip-as-news?
SPIN: On any given day, the press reports that Trump is unraveling, outraged, out-of-control, etc.
OR: The press has no way of knowing that other than questionable unnamed sources – if they even exist. And what is their motivation, if they do?
SPIN: People who support Trump – especially evangelicals – as immoral, evil and stupid.
OR: The liberal press is arrogant and totally out of touch with at least half of America. Policies of an administration are more important than personality flaws of even the President.
SPIN: The cut in corporate tax rates is a pay off to the richest Americans.
OR: The cut benefits employees who get raises, retirees who get increased returns through the pension plans, stockholders who get higher dividends and buyers who get cheaper prices because of greater competition.
This list could go on and on. The point is that there are two ways to look at the facts and the events. The elitist media has abandoned all sense of objectivity and fairness to proffer a prosecutorial case for the resistance to and impeachment of a president they never believed should have been elected.
Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at email@example.com.