For many years, reporters have received press releases from the White House touting various initiatives with “what they are saying” collections. As we discussed several months ago, it’s a straightforward exercise: the White House will collect praise from various corners, package it together, and send it out as proof of a proposal’s merit.
The point is to generate positive “buzz” about an administration priority by presenting the media with evidence that an idea has been well received – by other news organizations, members of Congress, pundits, advocacy organizations, etc.
As The Week noted yesterday, Donald Trump’s White House has an entirely different approach to this public-relations strategy.
President Trump’s Cabinet had great things to say about the boss’ immigration priorities, a bizarre press release from the White House proved Monday. Instead of quoting nonpartisan groups or experts in the field, the press release cited Attorney General Jeff Sessions, acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, Secretary of Commerce Wilber Ross, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
The bunch, perhaps unsurprisingly, was in favor of Trump’s priorities: “These are reasonable proposals that will build on the early success of President Trump’s leadership,” raved Sessions. “This plan will work.”
Even by Trump World standards, this kind of propaganda is cringe-worthy. The White House went to the trouble of issuing a press release to highlight praise from Trump’s cabinet about Trump’s agenda.
In other words, Trump administration officials alerted the media to the fact that Trump administration officials like the Trump administration’s policies.
What’s more, yesterday wasn’t the first time the White House pulled this stunt.
In April, the White House also issued a press release celebrating praise from itself. The headline read: “Senior Administration Officials Praise President Donald J. Trump’s ‘Buy American, Hire American’ Executive Order.” It proceeded to quote four members of the president’s team – including far-right aide Stephen Miller – saying nice things about the president’s policy.
In August, they did it again. After the president endorsed the RAISE Act, intended to slash legal immigration to the United States, the White House issued another press release quoting three Trump cabinet members saying how right Trump was to support the proposal.
As a practical matter, Team Trump isn’t doing itself any favors. Yesterday, for example, the president’s far-right list of demands on immigration policy wasn’t well received, so the White House didn’t have any outside praise to package together. But by relying on quotes from themselves, members of the president’s team effectively declared, “We’re apparently the only ones who like this idea.”