It’s beyond a cliche to say that a week in the presidency of Donald Trump feels like a month. It also happens to be totally true.
The sheer pace at which Trump and his administration move – and the massive amount of news those moves create – is absolutely unprecedented. Social media – and Trump’s active use of it – speeds things up even more. Ditto cable TV (and Trump’s obsession with it).
There is simply no such thing as a slow news day anymore. Or, well, a weekend. Trump has remade the news cycle.
Doubt it? Try to remember what happened on Monday of this past week. Or Tuesday. There’s a <5% chance you can do it. I cover this stuff for a living and I can’t. The mind simply can’t process this amount of news at the pace at which it currently moves.
There is, of course, strategy in this by Trump. When faced with 20 possible storylines every day, the media can only realistically cover five or six well. Trump’s goal is to make it the five or six that work in his favor.
This past seven days is a perfect example of that purposeful flooding of the news zone by Trump. Most people would (rightly) have a sense that it wasn’t a great week for him. But, few would grasp how bad it actually was.
Here’s a day-by-day recounting of Trump’s last week:
Saturday 9/23: Trump disinvites Steph Curry and his Golden State Warrior teammates from the White House after Curry expresses some hesitation about meeting with the President. He also stokes a controversy he started the night before in Alabama – lashing out at NFL players who protested social injustices by kneeling during the national anthem with statements that, at the very least, could be considered racially insensitiveTrump also tweets a taunt at Kim Jong Un, referring to the North Korean dictator as “Little Rocket Man” and promising “they won’t be around much longer!
Sunday 9/24: The entire day is dominated by images of NFL players protesting Trump’s harsh words about them over the past 48 hours. A series of NFL owners – including longtime Trump friend Bob Kraft of the New England Patriots – release statements that are directly critical of Trump and what they term his divisive comments. The day ends with the NFL running a TV ad calling for unity during its Sunday night primetime broadcast – a clear rebuke of Trump’s comments.
Monday 9/25: Trump issues a barrage of early morning tweets continuing his war of words with the NFL and its players. North Korea’s foreign minister suggests that Trump’s “they won’t be around much longer” tweet amounts to a declaration of war. The Trump administration acknowledges that it has no evidence that Iran test-fired a missile over the weekend – even though Trump tweeted that it had happened on Saturday. Maine Sen. Susan Collins (R) announces she will vote “no” on the last-ditch Republican attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare, a vote that effectively kills the legislation.
Tuesday 9/26: Trump, again, starts his day early with tweets blasting the NFL players. “The booing at the NFL football game last night, when the entire Dallas team dropped to its knees, was loudest I have ever heard. Great anger,” he tweeted. Trump, in a joint press conference with the Spanish prime minister, warns North Korea of “devastating” consequences if they continue their missile testing. Criticism begins to surface that Trump and his administration are not fully focused on the devastation in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Senate Republican leaders acknowledge defeat on the health care repeal-and-replace effort, announcing no vote will be held on the Graham-Cassidy legislation. Trump’s endorsed candidate in the Alabama Senate race – appointed Sen. Luther Strange – loses badly to former state Chief Justice Roy Moore, a candidate backed by former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon. A trio of Trump tweets supportive of Strange are deleted from his official account in the wake of the results.
Wednesday 9/27: Trump begins his hump day by insisting via Twitter that the health care repeal-and-replace effort is on track. “With one Yes vote in hospital & very positive signs from Alaska and two others (McCain is out), we have the HCare Vote, but not for Friday!,” he tweets. Senate leaders disagree, noting that the votes still aren’t there. The allegedly-hospitalized Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) tweets that he is not in the hospital and could return to Washington to vote if need be. Before leaving for Indianapolis to roll out his tax reform proposal, Trump tells reporters he is “not happy about” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s rampant use of private planes. The depth and breadth of the devastation and desperation in Puerto Rico becomes a huge national news story, as does the Trump administration’s slower-than-expected response to the situation on the ground.
Thursday 9/28: In an interview with “Fox & Friends,” Trump suggests that the NFL owners are “afraid” of their players – stoking another round of “is he playing on racial animus or not?” Trump reverses course on the Jones Act, a measure that limits shipping between US ports to America vessels – and is blamed for the lack of adequate food and water reaching Puerto Rico. He uses Twitter to play defense on the rising chorus of criticism over his handling of Puerto Rico. “FEMA & First Responders are doing a GREAT job in Puerto Rico. Massive food & water delivered. Docks & electric grid dead. Locals trying really hard to help but many have lost their homes. Military is now on site and I will be there Tuesday. Wish press would treat fairly!,” he tweets. CNN breaks the news that trump son-in-law Jared Kushner didn’t disclose the fact that he used a personal email account to conduct official White House business during his testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Elaine Duke, the acting head of the Department of Homeland Security, tells reporters in Washington of Puerto Rico: “I know it is really a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place in such a devastating hurricane.”
Friday 9/29: San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, in an interview with CNN’s “New Day,” expresses her outrage over Duke’s comments; “This is a ‘people are dying’ story,” she says. Trump goes into full crisis mode on Puerto Rico, arguing that his administration is doing everything it can to improve the situation. “Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló just stated: ‘The Administration and the President, every time we’ve spoken, they’ve delivered,’” Trump tweets. He speaks to reporters in the mid-afternoon – announcing that he will make a decision on Price by Friday night. Less than an hour later, Price is fired resigns.
Saturday 9/30: Trump, at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club for the weekend, was up early – and on Twitter. His first target was Yulín Cruz – the San Juan mayor. “The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” he tweeted just after 7 a.m. Trump then turned to his favorite subject, the news media, to blame them for allegedly hurting the Puerto Rico response efforts. “Fake News CNN and NBC are going out of their way to disparage our great First Responders as a way to ‘get Trump.’ Not fair to FR or effort!,” he tweeted. He followed that tweet up with this one: “The Fake News Networks are working overtime in Puerto Rico doing their best to take the spirit away from our soldiers and first R’s. Shame!” Trump did all of that before 8 a.m. on the East Coast.