Predictions about the mercurial Donald Trump are risky. Nonetheless, I cannot hesitate from making two, which some may view as rants but both are fact based. First: Trump will somehow stiff the White House press corps. Second: Trump will violate his oath of office as president.
First Prediction: Trump and the White House Press Corps
This week Trump announced his core White House communications team: Sean Spicer, who has long been a spokesperson at the Republican National Committee (RNC), will become White House press secretary. Hope Hicks and Jason Miller, who have served as spokespersons for the campaign and transition, will become strategic communications director and communications director respectively at the White House—nondescript positions having something to do with communications. Dan Scavino will be social media director—a post I’ve never heard of at the White House, but Twitter is important to Trump. Finally, Kellyanne Conway, who served as Trump’s last campaign manager and as a senior adviser to the president-elect, will serve in the White House as a counselor. Presidential counselors typically have no line authority in the White House rather float about doing what the president wants them to do in their area of expertise.
This media-relations team has been with Trump since the final days of his campaign and during the transition. No real staffing surprises, although rumor had Kellyanne—the mother of four—not wanting to take on full-time work in Washington rather work for the non-profit PAC being set up to push Trump policies outside of the government structure. Kellyanne could have undoubtedly earned more money and had greater flexibility not being on the White House staff. Her post at the White House appears a win for Rebecka Mercer, the daughter of the billionaire hedge fund operator, who brought Kellyanne and Stephen Bannon into the final days of the Trump campaign—pushing their candidate across the winning finish line.
Before turning to my first prediction, allow me to note that notwithstanding Trump’s complaints about his negative press-coverage (“the lyin’ press”), in fact, given the circumstances, Trump has received undeservedly favorable press coverage. With a few exceptions, the news media has given him a pass on his failure to produce his tax returns and disclose the nature of his many businesses; he was given a pass on his self-confessed sexual assault of countless women; the press largely ignored his longstanding connections with well-known New York area drug dealers and organized crime figures, and on and on and on. In breaking with norm after norm that have sunk other presidential candidates, the news media has allowed Donald Trump to get away with criminally outrageous behavior, setting a new low for national leadership.
But my biggest complaint about the news coverage of Donald Trump, the politician, the presidential candidate, now the president-elect, and soon to be the President of the United States, is his conspicuous and remarkable incompetence for the job. The news media—less a few outspoken commentators and columnists—is pretending like anyone can be the President of the United States, no prior experience necessary. News people seem to love his bellicose counter punching, hurling attacks at anyone who pinches his thin skin. They excuse his ignorance, and when he doubles down to hide it, they are confident he is developing a new and carefully considered policy. By any standard, the news media’s failure to address his utter lack of skills and knowledge to serve as president, the refusal to warn Americans and foreign nations that we are about to install a man who is totally unprepared for the job is breathtaking.
It was Leslie Moonves, executive chairman and CEO of CBS Television, who said of a potential Trump presidential campaign, “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” But after he was elected the mantra of the news business has not changed. It appears Trump’s outrageous and democracy threatening behavior is all about what is good for news organizations—and the end of democracy as we cherish it will be televised.
I really did believe that after he won the election the news business would get serious with Trump if he did not get serious about the business of governing this country, yet the news coverage of the transition of the most unqualified man ever elected to the White House is as weak and wishy-washy as it was at the outset of his campaign. Given the license afforded the news business under the First Amendment, their collective conduct is approaching criminal negligence, standing by while Trump destroys the country so they can report the fall of America.
Of course, Trump’s election is not the first time Americans have chosen a president who knows little to nothing about the ways and means of Washington, not to mention the nation’s highest executive office: the presidency. To the contrary, it is something of a regular practice. For example, in varying degrees Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all required on-the-job training, initially relying heavily on their Washington-seasoned vice presidents to assist them in getting their presidencies up and running.
While Donald Trump cannot hold a candle to any of these men as far as their interest in government, their prior experience at governing, and their interest in performing well as President of the United States (a president-elect who is too smart to take the president daily intelligence briefing is not only too dumb to be president, but is not interested in the job), yet the news media examined the past presidents-elect far more intently than they are examining Trump.
While they are reporting on Trump, it is fluff stuff. It is information he wants reported. In the past, however, reporters were digging into who was doing what to get ready. I scanned dozens upon dozens of transition stories all the way back to Jimmy Carter. For example, by August 9, 1976—some three months before the election—Laurence Stern had an in-depth story for The Washington Post, “Transition Unit at Work for Carter: Low-Profile Carter Group Working on Transition Plan.” It was one of many such accounts, and the same occurred with Carter’s successor. Reporters Lee Lescaze and T.R. Reid began tracking Ronald Reagan right after his election, reporting the details of his plans for The Washington Post and never letting up. James Perry, writing for The Wall Street Journal on November 18, 1992, explained that “Early Symbolic Acts of Administrations Have Lasting Effect” as he probed the transition of president-elect Bill Clinton, comparing it to predecessors. Robert Pear reported “Behind the Scenes, Teams for Both Candidates Plan for a Presidential Transition” in the September 21, 2008, New York Times, about the work of both candidate John McCain and Barack Obama. To mention only a few.
News accounts, television reports, and when they arrived blogs dug far deeper into past transition than is now occurring with Trump. My perusal of this material along with historical accounts after the fact reveal that pundits, historians, and political reporters largely agreed that rookie presidents Carter, Clinton and Obama relied on their vice presidents (Walter Mondale, Al Gore and Joe Biden) most heavily at the outset, but after they devoted countless hours of study to learning about their new jobs, they relatively quickly came to understand the workings of the high office they held and became adept presidents. Trump has made it clear he does not like briefing books, nor does he read history. This puts him alongside Reagan and Bush II, both of whom enjoyed the pomp of being heads of government, but they never stopped relying heavily on their vice presidents (George H. W. Bush and Dick Cheney) for the daily grind of being head of the executive branch of government.
Watching the formation of Donald Trump’s presidency, the press coverage is disappointingly weak and thin. As president, he is clearly going to govern much like Reagan and Bush II, where someone else does the heavy lifting. But this conspicuous fact is being totally ignored in the transition news coverage. Who is doing that lifting now: Vice President-elect Mike Pence? Chief-of-staff-designate Stephen Bannon? Son-in-law Jared Kushner? Daughter Ivanka? Outsider Rebekah Mercer? And why are reporters unable to learn what is really going on in the Trump Tower transition operation?
The answer to these questions is clear. Transition coverage has been much like Trump campaign coverage, and it does not bode well for coverage of the Trump White House. The news media is so fixated with Trump himself, along with his endless need to consume all the oxygen in any room where they are all together, that they are totally ignoring how he is preparing for his presidency. This is what sells.
In addition, much of the mainstream press is afraid of Trump, fearful he will cut them off from all access. In fact, I predict he will do just that. Nixon did it. He occasionally banned reporters from the White House. He went around the White House press corps to state and local news organizations. It has been almost 150 days since Trump held a press conference. Nixon used to go as long as he could, and unlike Trump, he was good at press conferences because he studied for days for them. Trump is not good at press conferences because he does not have good answers for the questions he will likely be asked, not to mention he is not inclined to study and prepare, so he knows he will likely embarrass himself. Just as during the campaign, Trump is conspicuously unprepared to answer questions.
Trump is going to be much harder on the press than Nixon. He has seen their weakness, and knows his core followers are with him. If the press was not collectively gutless, they would be yelling that we are watching a train wreck, but the news media is pretending this is not happening. Rather they are pretending that this is a normal presidential transition. Which brings me to my second prediction.
Second Prediction: Trump Will Breach His Oath of Office
It appears that at noon on January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump will take the oath of office: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” This will, of course, make him the President of the United States. I doubt, however, that Trump will honor his oath. My reason is rather simple, Donald Trump is far worse than Richard Nixon—a fact about which I will have more to say about in the future.
So what’s the problem? Whatever Trump does is “to the best of [his] ability” and no one can actually test his faith.
Obviously, I’m writing with my tongue in cheek, but I really don’t see what we can do about it. However, I do have a few predictions of my own, now that Mr Dean has thrown down the predictive gauntlet.
First of all, I predict that is is quite likely Trump will be Bill-Cosby-ed out of the White House within a few months. When he sullied the legacy of Gettysburg, he promised to sue “all of these liars”, but if he does that, then he will have to confess or perjure himself. If he doesn’t sue them, then it will be even worse. All of the other women will start selling their stories, and the value of those Donald stories will skyrocket as soon as he’s sworn in. Looking at the campaign, I admit that it’s conceivable that he’ll just run roughshod over his status as a sexual predator, but I think Bill Cosby was far more popular than Trump ever was, and now look at him…
If he does last until 2020, then I predict Trump will dump Pence and name Ivanka as his VP. If she then becomes president, America will be regarded as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Trump organization, whatever that is.
Different kind of prediction, but I wonder how much the extra security is going to cost and how Trump’s supporters will feel about that. Trump is ready to laugh off his presidential salary, but it’s already costing twice that PER DAY to secure his primary residence in NYC. Since he is not cutting his ties to his properties around the world, it’s as though all of those properties will suddenly represent the president of the United States his-very-own-self. Every Trump hotel and golf course is suddenly a prime target for every international terrorist? It’s going to cost BILLIONS and BILLIONS of dollars to provide that security, and it is safe to predict that Trump will want the taxpayers to foot that bill, too.
Ah, unlike the Kenyan-born, Muzzy-mulatto did EVERY FUK”IN DAY he was in office for 8 loathsome years ?
Sorry for your family. What a sad life you have.
You are a pathetic human being who cannot even articulate a legitimate criticism. You can only sling bigoted, ad hominem attacks. Why should we listen to you or care what you think.
Amen, Bro. Obummer is a solid con-job, we all expected it from the get go. No college or law school records? What’s so frightening to Hussein that he has to hide the truth, or lie outright to Americans about his DACA intentions 26 different times, or draw a line for Assad that he let Putin walk across. What a punk Obummer was, so glad to see that fool go. He needs to be prosecuted for the biggest fraud in the history of the world, not just in America’s history. All a con job but his US Commie Party Pinko friends, like Bill Ayers, Rev. Jackson, Black pussycat supporter. Fake American = NOT American.
If John Dean wasn’t delusional he would be laughable. To claim that Donald Trump has been the recipient of favorable coverage by the media is blatantly false. Check the research conducted by Media Research Center regarding the media’s treatment of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during the presidential campaign and the number of minutes devoted to negative and positive reporting of both. This article, typical for Mr. Dean, is full of bombastic accusations void of fact. The media coverage of Mr. Trump’s transition is “weak and wishy-washy?” I must ask, what planet are you on, Mr. Dean? The media has been attacking every aspect of the Trump transition (one example is the criticism that it was taking him too long to pick Cabinet nominees, while eight years ago it took Barack Obama longer but there was nary a word about it from the media then, it was nothing but gushing compliments about everything to do with that transition). And the strange logic of this article is best illustrated by Mr. Dean’s noting that some presidents, according to him, relied heavily upon the vice president early in the president’s tenure but then less so as the term moved further on, and then stating that Mr. Trump is not doing this. Huh? Mr. Trump has not begun his presidency yet, how can it be said that he has not begun to rely less on his vice president later in his term when later in his term has not taken place yet? Mr. Dean also criticizes Mr. Trump for not holding a press conference for “almost 150 days.” I wonder if he has ever criticized Hillary Clinton for her almost complete lack of press conferences during her long campaign for president? It is a shame such poor writing and extreme bias is given a public forum.
Hillary Clinton is a private citizen now. Focus on the “winner”, please.
Second, “The Media Research Center is a politically conservative content analysis organization based in Reston, Virginia, founded in 1987 by activist L. Brent Bozell III.” Brent Bozell is a bigot. http://mediamatters.org/research/2013/02/07/the-10-worst-examples-in-brent-bozells-hater-hi/192578 That renders your suggested source biased.
Also, your claim “that Donald Trump has been the recipient of favorable coverage by the media is blatantly false” is in itself false. http://www.forbes.com/sites/brettedkins/2016/12/13/trump-benefited-from-overwhelmingly-negative-tone-of-election-news-coverage-study-finds/#2b73c3060936 Trump received 44% positive news coverage, and Clinton only 38%. “On top of receiving more positive press than Clinton, Trump received 15% more press coverage overall than Clinton.”
John Dean is a pussy, communist, elitist, and worthless lying piece of shit. Bury him with his head up his ass. Little fucking bastard is lower than a weasel’s belly. All I can do is curse him. That is all he is….a turd, liar, one worlder, son of a bitch and should be arrested, tried, put on 16 hours a day at hard labor. work him til he dies. seize his assets. Two meals a day and water. Solitary when not working. In other words upon sentence, kill him slowly.
Holy cow! I hope you never get angry at me!
Hope you have a safe and happy New Year. :-)
Spare us your putrid rants. Re-direct them toward the lying misogynist who will soon sully the White House.
Please take your sickness over to Breitbart and leave Justicia alone.
What a brain damaged, stpid, vile, psycho.
Thankfully, its obvious that you are one miserably unhappy loser, so at least there is that justice.
The Media Research Center is not a neutral, objective source. Its stated, founding purpose is to “prove—through sound scientific research—that liberal bias in the media does exist and undermines traditional American values.” There are no statistical analyses evident in my quick look at that site, although there are plenty of loyalist statements of bias. Granted that your mind is made up, you will not seek other sources. Nonetheless, here is a much more comprehensive and scientific analysis.
The Washington Post compiled a summary — with illustrated statistics — of the eight, major news sources ranging from liberal to conservative, from Slate on the left to the Wall Street Journal on the right. The Post described their computer algorithm, applied it to ~3,000 stories during the election, and summarized the results. Those were unsurprising, and certainly not as biased as you claim. The last sentence is particularly valuable.
“We found that all of the media outlets that we considered “liberal” treated Clinton more favorably. The more conservative outlets seemed more on the fence about Trump. In our sample of articles, only the coverage of Fox News was more positive toward Trump than Clinton, at least to a statistically significant degree. Coverage at Weekly Standard, Wall Street Journal and Chicago Tribune didn’t clearly favor one candidate or the other.”
Here’s the link to the story:
Also, paragraph breaks matter, Brett.
Thank you for the link to that very informative article. As a native Chicagoan, I’m used to having both the Tribune (conservative) and Sun-Times (liberal) in my house as well as other news publications. (My dad taught me to read all sides, when possible.) As such, the Tribune showing no favoritism to either side is practically a renunciation of Trump. This was proven later when they endorsed a third party candidate over Trump. That was a shocking bit of news… but commendable.
I was waiting for the “what about Hillary?” defense. Thanks Brett, you didn’t disappoint! Trumpsters keep bringing her up even though she’s no longer in the picture – who’s not letting go and moving on? Trump is an embarrassment to our country.
You could be right about his possibly violating his oath of office. You have deep insight into such things.
This big baby has drunk his own hate-Trump kool aide. The task for the haters now is to try and delegitimize Trump’s presidency with hate speech and demonization. The left has lost the good will of the people. Stop blaming everyone except yourselves. Or get someone to change your diaper.
I detect heavy hints of denierism in a base of nativist racism served in a pit of ignorance swimming in a slurry of ignorance and incuriosity. You will, of course, be eating that.
The people chose Hillary.
By three million votes.
Koolaid … not kool aide. Clear writing comes from clear thinking. Look into it.
By the way, since this system is moderated, why do you [the mysterious moderator, possibly Mr Dean] bother to approve the vile and racist comments of the obvious trolls? Mostly I only see “This user is blocked”, but there was a fresh troll today with an outstandingly racist rant against President Obama, so I had to waste a second or two to add him to my block list.
Rational discussion of the issues and consideration of possible solutions to the real problems we face is good. That is NOT why the trolls are here. I used to wonder if they were sincere or just paid to fake it, but at this point I regard that as an additional waste of time. Maybe they are just projecting the worthlessness of their own lives to waste the valuable time of other people?
Anyway, I really wish that Disqus would address the underlying problems by adding features to help the rude trolls make themselves invisible. Blocking on an individual level is rather tedious. No loss to the trolls as they waste more time.
I agree, where are the troll cops when you need one? One thing said for leaving them in is that we get a good idea of the level of opposition
Trump will be impeached in less than a year.
Pence will probably be impeached right along with Trump.
His pattern in the various cons, grifts & scams that made up his career in “business” suggest he’d bail before actually being impeached.
His so-called ‘fighter’ mentality in the face of bankruptcy courts and filing lawsuits has invariably involved pulling successive scams, delays and smoke & mirror games aimed at scouring out as much money as possible from the given doomed project, not ever to actually defend its precepts or continue it in the face of losing money. It’s important to never lose sight of the fact that his entire view of the law and the courts system that supposedly supports it derives from his long close relationship with Roy Cohn.
John Wesley Dean III (born October 14, 1938) served as White House Counsel for United States President Richard Nixon from July 1970 until April 1973. In this position, he became deeply involved in events leading up to the Watergate burglaries and the subsequent Watergate scandal cover-up. He was referred to as the “master manipulator of the cover-up” by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He pleaded guilty to a single felony count, in exchange for becoming a key witness for the prosecution. This ultimately resulted in a reduced prison sentence, which he served at Fort Holabird outside Baltimore, Maryland. Not only are you a hypocrite, your a rat of the worst kind. You sold out your President for a reduced sentence. There are two characters in history that come to mind when I reflect on Poor Richard’s presidential history… Judas Iscariot and Brutus. The only thing left you have is your arrogance. You have no legitimacy.
That was 1890 years ago and judging from his writing has a lot to say after doing the time.
You were born maybe under a toadstool? How is any of this remotely news? I’m old enough to have watched the entire Watergate conspiracy unravel, including every word of Mr. Dean’s sworn testimony to Congress. You seem to think you’re bringing unique insight to this thread; you’re not. A moment’s reflection on what you’ve done here betrays you as purely a fool.
Hmmmm, the left has lost the goodwill of the people? You do know your guy lost the popular vote. Interesting that this article appears to be proof that the bots and rabid Trump supporters are monitoring every little article, lol. Take it easy, guys, and have a good Christmas.
Yep, they are definitely watching, waiting to attack any discussion of arguments that are guaranteed by the Constitution…political discourse is feared by the supporters of Trump. Attack, both physical and verbal is the typical modus operandi
Thank you John Dean for this article. Donald Trump is deeply flawed and not qualified to be president. No other candidate would have been given a pass if they even did one of the outrageous things that Trump has done. Why is this? Bernie Sanders is right when he says Trump is a pathological liar. I think Michael Moore gets it right when he calls Trump a “malignant narcissist.” Trump makes really stupid comments daily and you need only listen to fully understand how dangerous, deeply flawed and woefully unprepared he is for the presidency of the US. Isn’t it time for people to do the right thing for once and have some respect for truth and depth of character? Trump should be asked everyday to release his taxes, but instead he gets a pass. I can’t believe this is happening in our country. There is a real lack of civility. Just browse through the comments here and you’ll see for yourself.
Mr. Dean, I wonder if you remain quite so firm on your closing conclusion now that the Haldeman notes are out, showing Nixon consciously undermined the efforts of the Johnson White House in 1968 to pursue a treaty ending the conflict in Vietnam?
You yourself have suggested that interference rendered Nixon responsible for the deaths of something like 30,000 Americans (leaving aside disability to up to ten times that many), and you have agreed that it connects to the deaths of as many as 1.5 million residents of southeast Asia (plus disability, loss and horror to some multiple of that).
I don’t suggest at all that it’s impossible for Trump as president to be ‘worse than Nixon’, but as the same time I don’t think Trump is remotely as capable as Nixon proved to be in keeping out of the public’s view his most monstrous treachery during his initial campaign for the White House for any comparable period of time.
I don’t believe Trump can survive head above water for very long. Too many fingers in too many pies, and his uh…”unique mind” probably makes him think he can tweet “oh, I’ll follow the constitution NEXT MONDAY.”
And the media would love a Watergate 2. The hearings, the spectacle. First American President to be executed for treason? Who could turn it down?
Watching Trump fall from the highest post in the land will bring me joy.
Well, prediction #1 has already been fulfilled. GRRRR.
Thank you, Mr. Dean. Have always liked, admired you, and ’tis nice to hear
a concise summary from inside the beltway. Could we have imagined this?