Sad but true
If you want to control Donald Trump, say something nice about him.
That’s the lesson conveyed by a number of people who worked for President Trump during the 2016 presidential election. The former staffers tell Politico that they would selectively feed Trump positive stories about him in order to limit his outbursts on Twitter, which were causing a distraction and presumably hurting his image.
“If candidate Trump was upset about unfair coverage, it was productive to show him that he was getting fair coverage from outlets that were persuadable,” Trump’s former communications director Sam Nunberg told Politoco. “The same media that our base digests and prefers is going to be the base for his support. I would assume the president would like to see positive and preferential treatment from those outlets and that would help the operation overall.”
Interestingly, the report also says the reason the strategy worked was that Trump “rarely reads anything online,” instead getting his news from traditional print newspapers and cable news. But the deeper, obvious take away is the theory that Trump makes impulsive decisions, often dictated by the last people who speak with him before a choice is settled on.
National Review’s Romesh Ponnuru writes, “The story is being taken to confirm that Trump is a thin-skinned narcissist with a small attention span–and parts of it do indeed reinforce that impression.”
That’s not to say progressives can compliment Trump into failure but it does give a deeper sense into what puts Trump reactive mode: critical stories and feeling like he doesn’t have someone speaking on behalf of his side of the argument.