Here's a question posed to both men by American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp: “What does the media keep getting wrong about this Trump phenomena and what's happening out there in the country? And is there any hope that this changes?”
This was the response from White House chief of staff Priebus:
I think there's hope that it's going to change. I mean we — we sit here every day and — and the president pumps out all of this work and — and the executive orders and the punching through of the promises that he made to the American people. So we're hoping that the media would catch up eventually.But we're so conditioned to it. I'm personally so conditioned to hearing about why President Trump isn't going to win the election. Why one — why a controversy in the primaries going to take down President Trump. I lived through it, as chairman of the party.
Notice that Priebus, even as he complained that media coverage is too negative, displayed trust in the basic fairness of the press. He was optimistic that the media, while critical, will recognize Trump's successes if the president achieves the goals he laid out during the campaign.
Priebus seemed reluctant to spend too much time griping about the media. After answering Schlapp's question directly, he quickly changed the subject, citing conversations he had with his neighbors in Wisconsin to explain why he thinks Trump won the election.
This is a standard Republican attitude: Yeah, the media is biased against us, but we still get credit when it's due, so let's not be obsessed.
Bannon responded to Schlapp's question very differently:
The reason Reince and I are good partners is that we can disagree. It's not only not going to get better. It's going to get worse every day.And here's why: By the way, the internal logic makes sense. They're corporatist, globalist media that are adamantly opposed — adamantly opposed to an economic nationalist agenda like Donald Trump has. ... Here's the only — here's why it's going to get worse: Because he's going to continue to press his agenda. And as economic conditions get better, as more jobs get better, they're going to continue to fight. If you think they're going to give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken. Every day — every day, it is going to be a fight.
Wow. That was pretty dark. Bannon framed the Trump-media dynamic as a fight for control of the country. He told Trump supporters that the media is not “going to give you your country back without a fight,” suggesting that the press currently does control the country and must be overthrown.
Bannon went further, claiming that the media will fight against Trump “as economic conditions get better, as more jobs get better.” Translation: The media is your enemy, people. Journalists don't want your lives to improve.
When Trump sends tweets like this, it is clear which top aide he is listening to:
What's interesting is that Bannon used to sound more like Priebus.
“I'm not a whiner. I don't want to hear that the media's against us,” he said in a 2012 radio interview. “We're supposed to be conservatives. That means you overcome what life throws at you. I don't want to hear people talk about, 'Oh, you know, but the media. The big, bad media.'”
Since then, Bannon has apparently determined that whining about the big, bad media is an effective political tool. Priebus might be uncomfortable with it, but the president has reached the same conclusion as Bannon.