Donald vs Goliath – How Trump took down fake news.

If there was one thing for sure in the run up to electing a president in 2016, it was that the attack dogs of the massive combined influence of the news, media and Hollywood would savage Trump and make sure Clinton would be elected. The whole smug machine was against him, and he was about a billion dollars behind the corporate funding she enjoyed. It all looked a bit Donald versus Goliath.

Trump’s seeming specialty when dealing with a problem is to make a very quick decision which usually throws the opposition into complete confusion, since the response is unanticipated and far from the usual swampland politician’s slow knee-jerk answer they were expecting. Cue the headless chickens running around the barnyard between a he-can’t-do-that outrage and we’ll-need-a-new-plan because as a matter of fact, he actually can do that. He’s three jumps and a skip ahead of them most of the time.

It’s not a bad general response to deal with immediate problems, but a poor one to use on more systemic intractable problems, and he knows that. His thinking goes long term and he switches from skirmish battle mode (eg His response in debating Hilary – “If I was in charge of the law, you’d be in jail”) to planning out a long campaign. Battles are generally won or lost in a day, but campaigns can last for months, if not years.

As a presidential candidate and then president, his Gordian Knot problem with how to deal with a thoroughly biased fake news machine is illustrative of him in campaign mode. He’s thought out his counter-moves in advance and if you examine them carefully, you can see a certain step by patient step pattern of slowly cutting them down to size. It’s the classic response of how do you eat an elephant? The answer is one mouthful at a time.

His first move was not to use them at all. Bypass them completely by using social media like Twitter and Facebook. No presidential hopeful had ever done that before and at first glance it looked like one of his point solutions, but it wasn’t. It got his message out directly and unmodified to the demographic he knew was there – the silent, ignored people who knew their opinion didn’t matter to the Clinton campaign, if only because it never even bothered to turn up in their area.

He on the other hand, really loaded himself down with personal addresses at four or five rallies a day, turning up everywhere but especially deep in the rust belt or flyover country that was dismissed as irrelevant by the Clinton campaign, and he talked BS free about their genuine concerns.

Nobody in a presidential campaign had ever failed to court the media, but if you think about it, he’d nothing to lose. It wouldn’t matter which approach he used on them – the results would always be unfavourable and politically partisan. But what made it a strategic move was he used that freedom to not only communicate directly with voters but also to undermine the traditional authority of the media.

From the get go, he gave them the label fake news. Goaded by both the nickname and being ignored (how dare he do that to us?), they promptly lived up to the label by becoming progressively more incensed and in their furious attempts to take him down with phony stories from anonymous sources, their naked bias became glaringly apparent to the demographic he was after.

It became so obvious and extreme during the election that the far-left NYT had to issue a thinly veiled apology for their behaviour to their shocked readers shortly after it was over, but by that time, the damage to their credibility had been done. Cue leasing out eight floors of their building in preparation for the downsizing caused by a cliff drop in their circulation. I thought at the time the faux apology might possibly signal some sort of return to honest journalism away from acting like petulant children, but I wasn’t optimistic.

Trump is in the habit of handing out nicknames. The thing about nicknames is that unless they’re accurate and fitting, they’ll never catch on. But if they are, then someone or something has just got stuck with a label that will follow them down their days, whether it’s a nice nickname or not. I once had occasional business dealings with a chap called Eric, but soon found out everybody called him Eric Modo, which wasn’t his family name. I learnt it was because he was ugly enough to remind everyone of his brother Quasi Modo.

Once you looked at him, you thought, yup, the resemblance was uncanny, you’d never get it out of your head, and you could just imagine him swinging down from the bell tower of Notre Dame to Esmeralda’s rescue. Despite the nickname, which I’m sure he was aware of, he was a good egg who liked a good joke and took it in good spirits.

The nickname fake news coming into common and understood parlance was to prove a slow but ultimately fatal blow to their authority. Like an untreated wound, it and all the fake stories slowly bled them of the unquestioned trust they’d previously enjoyed, and years down the line, it’s still suppurating, but now with the puss of decomposition mixed into the blood. With wave after wave of redundancies, journalists are fast approaching the endangered species list.

The next blow was to refuse to attend the WH Correspondents’ Dinner where he had been ambushed and humiliated years earlier. I’ve said of him before that he doesn’t forgive an insult and is very partial to taking his revenge. That hackneyed saying about revenge being a dish best served cold doesn’t apply to him though. His revenges tend to have been parked in a slow cooker and come out simmering a few years later, and hotter than a Three Mile Island reactor in full nuclear meltdown.

Word got around too. Anyone from his administration attending would have a very short gig in the WH. To add to the social disaster, the Dinner has become poorly attended in general, because anyone of power accepting an invitation to it have a feeling it might be seen as taking sides against an incumbent president, which is never a good idea at the best of times. So, an annual event that people had for decades traded favours for an invitation, has hit a wall of carefully arranged conflicting engagements.

One of the hard realities of Washington politics is that when you’re in the water and bleeding with the sharks circling in, don’t expect anyone to swim heroically to your rescue. You’re on your own kiddo, because everybody else is swimming away from you.

In a genius response, the journalistic brains as big as a planet, engaged a virulently anti-Trump comedienne for the event who came up with all the expected anti-Trump jokes to great applause, but as the vileness of her set leaked out, they threw her to the sharks and her career ended. Certain risqué jokes you can tell, but after it crosses a certain line of good taste and decency, people stop laughing and just stare in silence at the comic.

Having truly screwed the pooch, the decision was made to have no more comedy sets at the Dinner, but the disastastroke damage it inflicted was terminal to what had once been a glittering Washington event that had hitherto been ticked off well in advance on everyone’s social calendar. An own goal.

As the fake news journos reeled from successive disasters, their misbehaviour increased, driven by frustration from getting nowhere with their supposed takedown of Trump. He was outplaying them and it resulted in what was the WH daily press briefing nearly becoming a bear pit where no respect or decorum was to be shown to either the Office of the President or his press secretary. Sarah Sanders withstood their petulant fury magnificently and despite some very personal attacks on her and her family, even in a restaurant while they were having a family meal, she weathered the storm.

She’s rumoured to be going for elected office herself, and I think it’ll be a lucky bunch of people who’ll have a woman of her calibre representing them in whatever forum.

It turned into a debacle, more like watching a bunch of spoilt brats shouting at the president or his spokesman, and even refusing to let go of the microphone after their turn with it, to the extent of slapping aside the hand of an aide who was tasked with passing it around the various hacks as they got a nod to ask a question. One of them got his WH press credentials revoked for a while. Another own goal.

In the end, Trump, realising the briefings were pointless, didn’t even bother to attend them and in the last six months, I’m not aware a single old-fashioned WH press briefing has occurred. They did get a fair warning from him of that happening in an interview with Pirro. The room it’s held in used to be a swimming pool, and as I hear the president and his family are partial to that form of exercise, it may very well soon return to its original use.

They’d sell their granny into slavery to get an exclusive interview with him, but he’s very sparing about granting them anything like that. Why should he? He can and does talk directly to his electorate without them and therefore sees no need to offer himself as a hostage to fortune by chucking to any of them a tasty morsel which he knows would almost certainly turn out to be an ambush interview. He simply doesn’t do interviews or briefings with fake news these days, though he sometimes picks out a few choice interviewers like Hannity, Pirro or Farage – but that’s about it.

He has of late ordered the blanket cancellation of all government subscriptions by federal departments to far-left papers like the NYT or the WaPo, which’ll make a steep drop in their already nose diving circulation numbers. It’s a win-win for Trump as it’ll be a substantial budget saving while at the same time taking a large bite out of the enemy’s bottom line, so he’s not losing any sleep over that decision.

Many states and districts are now following his lead, even to the extent of stopping local libraries renewing subscriptions to the NYT. Stand by for another cull of NYT journalists in a few months.

His final humiliation of them is now only taking ad hoc questions before entering or after he’s stepped off the presidential helicopter on the WH lawn. If you’ve ever tried to talk to someone in the near vicinity of a helicopter with its engines running, you’ll know it’s nearly impossible to do so if you’re facing it. His helicopter’s engine is always kept turning behind him during such pressers. With a flick of his fingers, that engine could be turned off – they know it, he knows it, but they both know that’s not going to happen.

They’re kept behind a rope by the Secret Service and they’re all facing into the full thunder of the whirling blades’ noise. He walks up and down in front of it picking out questions like an imperious Caesar, choosing which hopping and shouting hack he’ll deign to recognise, and unless it’s a decent question rather than a barely audible long speech preceding a question about the Mueller witch hunt or the impeachment nonsense, he simply ignores them jumping up and down to catch his attention.

The once feared ravening packs of attack dogs have become house-trained little poodles jumping up and down in front of him.

As far as he’s concerned, fake news is still a malevolent enemy, but it’s largely toothless these days. He doesn’t use them directly and therefore has no need for them to be around him, so he’s gradually frozen them out. It’s only a matter of time until they lose all the old freebie perks of covering the president, like free plane rides on Airforce One.

The campaign has worked out and now after several years, he’s got them exactly where he wants them. But while each step of it was a tactical move towards the strategic aim of breaking their power, which he’s done, there were always two subtle strands binding all of those moves together that ran concurrently.

The first was to use their TDS hate for publicity, which obviously worked since he’s been the lead news item every day for nearly four years on nearly every organ of fake news. I’ve often heard the opinion expressed that being under 24/7/365 assault from the fake news machine must be grinding him down, but I think it’s quite the reverse. The guy is a brawler, a scrapper, who absolutely loves a good fight – he thrives on it and he very definitely likes winning. And it plays very well to that Donald versus Goliath image of him I referred to earlier.

The second strand is a more political usage of them. Again using his nickname habit, he’s firmly christened them as the “enemy of the people”, especially his people, which binds his supporters even more closely to him, since he’s seen as their champion fronting up against their common enemy, which he is. How many articles have you read that refer to the 65M people who voted for him in the most vile, offensive and dismissive terms? He’s the one they see as hitting back for them.

Watch him speak at any of his rallies, he always at some point mentions “them”, pointing up at the press box, and about 70,000 people turn to stare at them and start to boo and hiss. He doesn’t even have to call them fake news anymore, just them will do.

After a win in 2020, he’ll have no further use for them at all.

So, there you go, a prime example of the Trumpie monster’s deep thinking when in campaign mode. Mouthful by mouthful, he’s eaten the elephant. He read them unerringly, used their hostility to his advantage, carefully shaped and timed his moves, never missed an opportunity to outrage their elitist sensibilities, deliberately provoked the boneheads into making one mistake after another, anticipated all the self-inflicted wounds they’d make in response and now they’re an impotent enemy.

It took a few years, but oh how the mighty have fallen. Edged out of the WH press room and onto its lawn, waiting for hours, reduced to hopping up and down behind a rope while being blasted by prop wash, and hoping not only that he’ll decide to do an impromptu presser at all, but that he’ll pick them out and throw them a frickin’ bone. It’s the only direct access they’ve got left to him now, so they’ve got to swallow their dignity.

I’m really hoping for a biblically bad winter outside the WH this year.


Related articles by Pointman:

The Decline and Fall of the Media.

The spoilt brat complex.

The convergence of fake news and entertainment.

Click for a list of other articles.

11 Responses to “Donald vs Goliath – How Trump took down fake news.”
  1. John W. Garrett says:

    Sweet !!


  2. Blackswan says:


    Why do I get the inescapable feeling that half the time he holds those pressers on the WH lawn with helicopter engines whining in the background, that he never gets on or off the chopper at all … he simply buttons his coat and disappears back into the WH whence he came. Would any of those shrieking journalists ever admit to such a thing happening? Probably not – their humiliation would then be complete.

    Trump has taken the gloves off now – he doesn’t care whose nose he bloodies. In this video, addressing the ’Black Voices for Trump’ coalition, he’s dropped the Fake News tag and opted for Corrupt Media, to a roar of approval from the Atlanta crowd.

    The last three years has seen Trump get very comfortable in his Presidential shoes, his whole manner of speaking, his connection with his audiences becoming very personal – so unlike the usual slick political style of oratory that people have simply stopped listening to. In this Atlanta video he acknowledges so many individuals, their business and personal achievements that it’s patently obvious these black Americans are trailblazers and real people to him, not just harnessed as ‘votes with black faces’ as they’d been reduced to by Democrat plantation owners.

    Significantly, he refers much more often to the “Republican Party” rather than “my Administration”. This is definite Election Mode and much more likely to undermine the negative effect of the RINOs busily white-anting him, as they can no longer do so without putting their own seats at risk, especially after Trump urged his black audience to “go join the Republican Party”. With blacks involving themselves in Party affairs the RINOs will soon be left high and dry.

    He simply dismisses all Democrats as corrupt fools but the message to Republicans from Trump is very clear … “shape up or ship out – we have better people to replace you”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pointman says:

    “The Failing New York Times” Stock Plunges After Company Reports Continued Declines In Advertising.



  4. beththeserf says:

    The Titanic Times.


  5. NoFixedAddress says:

    Two other aspects that have been highlighted by the Trumpnado is the despicable partisan American so called Judicial system and the prime time view of how ‘Public Prosecutors’ go about ensuring their staggering 95% conviction rate.


  6. Paul says:

    Your last sentence made me laugh out loud. That would be bad karma on steroids indeed.
    Good article


  7. gallopingcamel says:

    Most presidents age visibly while in office, especially Bush 43 and Obama.

    Trump seems immune from the effect suggesting that he gets his jollies from outwitting his many foes.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. cdquarles says:

    I agree with you about the visible aging. Even Clinton had it, if I am remembering correctly. Two factors, I think, are mitigating here. The three I mention were relatively young. Trump, like Reagan, is relatively old already (both were ca 70 when they won their first terms, Trump definitely, Reagan’s age is subject to my own 7th decade memory). I could go look it up. Still, Reagan was around for Goldwater’s 1964 run, so 15 years later it’d be obvious that he’d be 60s at the youngest, in 1979.


  9. oebele bruinsma says:

    Dear Pointman, Interesting video running parallel in time to the current “Impeachment Inquiry” in the House of Representatives, outlining the underlying powers… Thank you for your interesting blogs.


  10. Another Ian says:


    Not really a “prat” subject so posted here – but on the other hand a “serious prat” subject


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