NBC News' Chuck Todd recently gave Politico
an interesting tidbit
about Donald Trump. During the campaign, after his "Meet the Press" appearances, the Republican would request that the control room replay the interview for him -- on mute.
"Then there's the amount of time he spends after the interview is over, with the sound off," Todd said of Trump. "He wants to see what it all looked like."
The insight tells us something important about the president's priorities: as far as Trump is concerned, what he says is less important than how he looked while saying it. Substance is fine, as far as it goes, but style is the real priority.
As coverage of the president's address to Congress continues, it's hard not to wonder just how many pundits feel the exact same way.
The Washington Post
's Robert Costa noted
this morning that White House officials were "frankly surprised" this morning at pundits' praise for Trump's speech. The reporter's sources said the president's agenda "has not changed," and there's "no big shift in policy coming."
In other words, Team Trump largely assumed that to start receiving positive coverage, the administration would have to adopt a less regressive, less reactionary agenda. Officials in the West Wing were therefore caught off guard -- because all it took was presenting the same agenda in a "tone" pundits found pleasing.
In fact, the praise was effusive to a jarring degree. Politico
ran a piece
this morning that asked, "Was this the Trump that could win in 2020?" CNN ran a splash headline in a big font, declaring
, "Presidential Trump." Fox News' Chris Wallace went so far as to say
, "I thought it was by far the best speech I ever heard Donald Trump give. It was one of the best speeches in that setting, that I've heard any president give."
Something is amiss and it's important to understand what. read more