That's what counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway would like to know. Actually, she has a theory: The media cares only about tearing down Trump.
Conway ripped the media's coverage choices in a Monday appearance on “Fox & Friends.” I have annotated an excerpt of her remarks and broken down her alternative analysis of the president's Twitter habit. I say “alternative” because it frames Trump's tweets very differently than recent analyses by The Washington Post, Axios and USA Today.
To view an annotation, click on the yellow, highlighted text.
The media have now moved on from Russia to cover themselves. And I doubt that's going to help their 14 percent approval rating. The American people see that they're trying to interfere with the president communicating directly through his very powerful social-media network channels, but also they notice that they don't cover the substance of the issues.
I mean, look, I know it's a heck of a lot easier to cover 140 characters here or there or what the president may be saying about the media here or there than it is to learn the finer points of how Medicaid is funded in this country and how that would or would not change under the Senate bill, how the child-care tax credit might affect your family. They don't cover these finer policy points.
And I've talked to a few over the weekend who called me unilaterally and say, “Well, we would cover that, Kellyanne, except the president did this and said that.” I think if you have a 24/7 cable news outlet or you're a network or you are a print reporter, you can probably cover all of the above. So everybody makes choices.
We went back and did an analysis. Roughly 163 tweets sent out by President Trump in June. Three-quarters of them, at least, had to do with policy, bilateral meetings, legislation.
Without more detail, it is difficult to judge Conway's math. The @realDonaldTrump Twitter account tweeted 210 times in June; the @POTUS account tweeted 153 times. Clearly some tweets were excluded from the White House analysis, but Conway did not explain the methodology, and the White House did not respond to a request for clarity.
It appears, however, that the White House riffed on an analysis by The Post's Philip Bump, who evaluated the 163 tweets sent by @realDonaldTrump on weekdays in June. The White House declared a new theme for each week (infrastructure, workforce development, technology, energy), and Bump wanted to measure how often Trump adhered to his administration's stated focus.
Answer: 7 percent of the time.
Here is Bump's illustration of what captured the president's attention:
Although Trump was frequently not on-message, per se, you can see that he often did address policies and politics, as Conway claimed. He posted lots of tweets like these that received little attention from the media.
I just finished a great meeting with the Republican Senators concerning HealthCare. They really want to get it right, unlike OCare!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2017
MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2017
Great night in Iowa - special people. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017
Happy birthday to U.S. ARMY and our soldiers. Thank you for your bravery, sacrifices, & dedication. Proud to be your Commander-in-Chief!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 14, 2017
Though it irks the White House, the reality is that journalists are not in the business of praising presidents for simply fulfilling the most basic responsibilities of the job. Trump is supposed to meet with senators, thank his crowds and honor U.S. troops. The news value of such rote remarks is pretty low.
Presidents make headlines by doing and saying things that are different — and the way Trump talks about the free press enshrined in the First Amendment is extremely different from the way his predecessors did. That's news.
Pilots don't complain about the lack of fanfare every time they land a plane safely or cry “bias!” because crashes, fare hikes and reaccommodations get all the attention. They understand that the media exists not to pat them on the back for meeting expectations but to hold their industry accountable to the public. People in countless other jobs accept the same.
But Trump seems to think it is terribly unfair that he does not get more credit for doing what he should — at least three-quarters of the time, according to Conway.