Less than seven months into his presidency, President Trump has already dramatically changed the face of Washington and politics throughout the United States. He announced his bid for the presidency a little over two years ago, in June of 2015. Since his nomination and election, Donald Trump has continued to break political and communication norms. And while the changes brought on by the Trump administration are various and widespread, there are a few changes that have had large impacts on the communication and journalism industries:
- Public Image of the White House: The White House is no stranger to controversy. From the Watergate scandal of the Nixon era, to Bill Clinton’s affair, the office of the presidency hasn’t always been squeaky clean. And yet, in the Trump era we are seeing ongoing investigations, tensions within the Republican Party, and battles with the media, unlike any previous White House controversy. From dramatic Senate testimonies to energetic campaign-style rallies, President Trump and his White House Communication team haven’t always contributed positively to the President’s public image. Recent staff changes like Anthony Scaramucci’s short-lived term as White House Communications Director, may indicate that the White House is trying to improve its public image.
- Politics in Mainstream and Social Media: Prior to Trump’s presidency and the tumultuous 2016 presidential race, politics and the goings-on in Washington weren’t always making headlines on mainstream stations. And now with the mainstream media almost as bitterly divided as Congress, it seems like they can’t get enough of political discourse. President Trump’s unprecedented actions and heated debates in Washington have turned social media sites, such as Facebook, into political battlegrounds. Pew Research Center found that 49 percent of social media users described their political discussions via social media as angrier “compared with other places people might discuss politics.”
- Relationships between the White House and the Media: President Trump’s attacks on the New York Times and CNN, among others, via Twitter, have created tension between both the White House Communication Team, and the President himself and news outlets. In late June of this year, the President found himself in hot water after attacking “Morning Joe” reporters Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski through a series of tweets. The tweets prompted responses from Republican Senators, including Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse who tweeted “This isn’t normal,” referring to the President’s statements. Similarly, then-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer set an uneasy foundation between the WH Communication team reporters in the early days of Trump administration. Specifically with his interactions with April Ryan, Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks, which caused a media stir within the briefing room.
- “Fake News”: Another contributing factor to negative relationships between the White House and the media, is the Trump-proclaimed idea of “Fake News.” Trump first criticized what he described as “Fake News Media” during his campaign, thus casting doubt on the credibility of several mainstream news stations. Just this week, the Trump administration aired a “Real News” series, hoping to combat the “fake news.” And while President Trump was likely hoping to shield his public image, critics are comparing this “Real News” series to political propaganda.
The Trump administration has shaken up politics and Washington unlike any other president we’ve seen before. What used to often be predictable, has turned into volatile relationships between the president, Congress, the media, and the public. It is inevitable that the Trump administration will only continue to change politics and political communication throughout Donald Trump’s time in office.