Trump Tweetstorm: Look, I'm in Charge, and All Unfavorable Polls Are 'Fake News'

Posted: Feb 06, 2017 1:45 PM

President Donald Trump continues his pattern of serving up tweet-by-tweet refutations of media storylines that rankle him, including three messages posted this morning. He began with a criticism of mainstream media polling, which has shown a rapid decline in the Trump's popularity over his first two weeks in office. A small sampling:

Other national surveys peg his popularity much closer to an even split.  Trump declared the numbers "fake news" (but only the negative ones, of course) harkening back to the pollsters' failures in the general election, and smartly turning the issue back to "extreme vetting" of would-be refugees, where he has the upper hand on public opinion:

CNN's Jake Tapper replied that national polling showing Mrs. Clinton narrowly ahead actually turned out to be correct.  It was a handful of state-level polling averages that really blew it badly, missing the final electoral college outcome.  Vast amounts of exit polling data found Trump to be the least-liked major party nominee of the modern era, yet he won by beating a terribly flawed opponent among an electorate craving change.  It shouldn't come as any great surprise that he wouldn't be an especially popular president right out of the gates.  Next, Trump fired off an "I'm in charge here" tweet, perhaps in response to reports that he hadn't been adequately briefed on the contents of an executive order he'd signed.  With some loudly suggesting that adviser Steve Bannon had bamboozled his way into being elevated onto the permanent National Security Council 'principals' committee without Trump's full knowledge, the president asserted his control:

The "data" comment may have been a reference to Trump's response to Bill O'Reilly in an interview that aired on the Super Bowl pregame show, regarding the president's totally unsubstantiated claim that millions of illegal voters took part in the November election.  Trump told O'Reilly that 'many people' have said that he was right, to which the Fox host responded that anecdotes aren't data.  (In the same interview, Trump appeared to draw a moral equivalence between the United States and Vladimir Putin's Russia when asked about the Russian strongman's tactics in crushing dissent). As Justin reported earlier, Trump has tapped Vice President Mike Pence to spearhead the administration's investigation into the matter, which even Congressional Republicans believe to be so baseless that they oppose the use of federal funds to conduct it.  Finally, Trump rejected as "total fiction" a New York Times story about internal turmoil within the White House amid a rocky first few weeks.  Here's a taste of the Times story, followed by Trump's retort:

One thing has become apparent to both his allies and his opponents: When it comes to governing, speed does not always guarantee success. The bungled rollout of his executive order barring immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, a flurry of other miscues and embarrassments, and an approval rating lower than that of any comparable first-term president in the history of polling have Mr. Trump and his top staff rethinking an improvisational approach to governing that mirrors his chaotic presidential campaign, administration officials and Trump insiders said. This account of the early days of the Trump White House is based on interviews with dozens of government officials, congressional aides, former staff members and other observers of the new administration, many of whom requested anonymity. At the center of the story, according to these sources, is a president determined to go big but increasingly frustrated by the efforts of his small team to contain the backlash...

Until the past few days, Mr. Trump was telling his friends and advisers that he believed the opening stages of his presidency were going well...But his opinion has begun to change with a relentless parade of bad headlines...the president, for whom chains of command and policy minutiae rarely meant much, was demanding that Mr. Priebus begin to put in effect a much more conventional White House protocol that had been taken for granted in previous administrations: From now on, Mr. Trump would be looped in on the drafting of executive orders much earlier in the process...Mr. Priebus has also created a 10-point checklist for the release of any new initiatives that includes signoff from the communications department and the White House staff secretary, Robert Porter, according to several aides familiar with the process.

It's a lengthy story, leaning on a signifiant number of sources, both named and unnamed. It is unclear whether the president is denying the report in its entirety.  I'll leave you with an important piece by Naval War College professor Tom Nichols, a conservative Trump critic, who warns the media and the Left that treating every Trump move as a freakout-worthy crisis is foolish boy-who-cried-wolfism: