President Trump is no fan of the news media, but he will happily manipulate the press for his own purposes.
The credibility of the press has been in decline for some time, but Trump’s ongoing attacks on the free press have dropped the credibility of the news media to all-time lows.
However, Trump’s attacks are not just a matter of ego and wanting to be “right.” According to strategic consultant George Friedman, Trump is using the news media as a foil to further his foreign policy goals. The continued decline in the credibility of the media is just a side benefit in his mind.
Trump Wants Change, Not Stability
In a video interview with Mauldin Economics, Friedman makes the point that Trump is the first president in modern history who does not care about global stability. The key difference from President Obama and other recent presidents is that Trump is unhappy with the status quo and wants to shake things up.
He notes: “Donald Trump ran for office on the basis that the prior management of our foreign policy was so concerned about stability that fundamental issues between countries could never be addressed.”
As Friedman highlights, Trump is trying to live up to his campaign promises. Although most people thought Trump would become more cautious and focus on global stability when he got to the White House, that is clearly not the case. Trump perceives the status quo as less than ideal for the US, and in fact, wants to destabilize the world order to “make America great again.”
Friedman also suggests that the world peace is not as fragile as the media would have you believe. For example, he argues that China’s military is not capable of taking on the US in the South China Sea. Because of this, he says, “I do not think the Chinese will risk a war.” He also argues it is a good idea to “rattle Iran’s chains,” so as to gain insight into their real intentions.
Trump Sees News Media as a Tool
When asked why President Trump is breaking precedent and conducting foreign policy in the public eye, Friedman replied that the new president sees the media as an ideal foil to advance his objectives. Trump has spent more than a year working to change the public perception of the press from an independent, neutral source of news to an anti-Trump organ controlled by liberal elites.
Eroding the credibility of the press allows Trump much more freedom to enact his agenda, as he becomes the source of “real news.” Of course, the ability of the media to influence public opinion is also notably hamstrung, so his opponents have lost their best weapon to fight his agenda.
Trump’s “Public Foreign Policy”
Friedman also argues that the new White House is making foreign policy public to put world leaders on notice that the US is “not going to play the same game” any more. The goal here is to telegraph his plans to create room for negotiations to change the status quo and put “America first.”
Also, note that by going public with almost everything, Trump proves to the public that he is keeping his campaign promises.
You can watch the full video interview (11:15) with George Friedman here or below.
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