The media is all abuzz, again, about the fact that President Trump spent some time during his televised interview with ABC anchor David Muir pointing out the large size of the crowd in photos of his inauguration. Journalists, who still don’t seem able to understand that Trump is almost always several steps ahead of them, once again are heralding the president’s seeming preoccupation with the issue.
Is the president actually so thin-skinned that he needs the world to acknowledge that a huge number of people turned out to honor him as he was sworn in? Um, no.
So what’s really going on in his mind? Here’s my opinion: Everything Donald Trump does is strategically calculated to achieve a goal. His communication is designed not to simply convey his gut feelings, but to make people focus on one thing — call it a decoy — so he can do six other things while they’re distracted.
In this case, Trump has masterfully used the media’s pathetic naiveté and desire to battle him to make them focus on a throwaway battle — his seeming obsession with crowd size (which I can almost guarantee he could not care less about) — while he determinedly does what he does care about: signing orders that resurrect pipeline projects, retooling our broken immigration laws, laying the groundwork for a better health care system and preparing to build the wall.
For journalists who still don’t get it, here it is, again, in direct terms: When Trump says something like “If I were you I would take your camera and look at the size of the crowd,” he is actually saying, “Let’s debate crowd size, again, because otherwise you might ask me questions about my real and historically powerful plans and ideas, which I don’t trust you to report on fairly, anyhow.”
A journalist who might even come close to Trump’s level of strategic communication should then say, “Ah, the old watch this hand while I work magic with my other one? No, we shall not linger an instant on that silly issue my colleagues in the media are focused on. Let’s sit down and talk about the pipelines, again. I don’t want to walk around and snort another line of that drug you know the media is addicted to.”
The drug, by the way, is called taking the easy path of the pithy, sensational, stupid story. And lots of journalists who get paid lots of money seem to be hopelessly hooked on it.
The rest of us, over the next 90 days or eight years, will watch Trump masterfully ignite one squabble after another that the members of the press fall all over themselves to engage in, while he remakes the world.
Man, I am just so happy this guy went to work for us. I’m still pinching myself. It’s like a miracle.
Keith Ablow, MD is a psychiatrist, and was host of the nationally-syndicated "Dr. Keith Ablow Show." He is a former member of the Fox News Medical A Team.