Network commentators, talking heads, and regular guests on the newsnets have been sharpening their long knives ready to stick it to Donald Trump during the all-important “spin cycle” following the debate.
The Trump camp knows this and is looking for a counter. Their problem — one they recognize but can’t do much about — is that the narrative has already been set: Trump the liar, Trump the serial exaggerator, Trump the ignoramus. All they’ll need is for Trump to utter a few “Trumpisms” that they can plug into their ready-made storyline and the Trump campaign will be forced to play defense against a horde of media types who have been itching to take him down.
Some will do it because they sincerely believe it’s their job to destroy Trump. Others will do it because they enjoy destroying Republicans.
Kellyanne Conway is saying the headlines have already been written.
“I’m worried, Mika, about not being treated fairly afterwards. I’m worried that some of the headlines are already written, that they’re conclusions in search of evidence,” Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough in an interview Monday morning. “You saw — and others were talking about it in the earlier segment — that this weekend was spent by editorial writers and people on Twitter and elsewhere really just trying to undercut Donald Trump before the debate.
Those same people, Conway continued, are “somehow putting the burden on the media to prop up Hillary Clinton and pregame the debate,” adding, “That’s not the role of the media.”
Scarborough interjected, remarking that “it’s almost like they don’t think Hillary Clinton is strong enough to do it on her own.”
“That’s the key,” Conway said. “We can scream bias and unfairness, but what Joe just said is really the key here, that they’re worried about her debating skills.”
Conway, a pollster who was promoted to run the third iteration of the real estate mogul’s campaign, said despite Clinton’s participation in nearly three dozen debates, “There’s no connection that we can see between her debate performances and any type of major lift in the polls thereafter, and I think they know that over in Brooklyn.”
But Trump’s biggest problem Monday night will be what Barack Obama said during his bitter 2008 primary battle against Clinton: that she’ll say anything to get elected, Conway said.
“So if she ends up saying to him, ‘That’s just not true, you’re distorting my record, you’re being mean to a woman,’ and then people will say, ‘He was mean to a woman,’ and the headlines will scream and Twitter will blow up — even if it’s not true,” she said. “So that would be my concern, that he’s not able to get out all of his responses because, as Joe correctly points out, people are so worried that she’s not a great debater, that she’s not really ready for tonight the way he is, that she’s going to try to interrupt him and confuse the people watching in such a way that he was somehow rude to a woman and he somehow lied on the stage.”
Will they be successful? Trump supporters don’t believe the media anyway so anything coming out of the spin room won’t have an impact on them.
But what of the 1/3 of the electorate who may base their votes on the debate and its aftermath? Surveys show that there has never been such dislike and distrust of the media. But the media’s power to advance a narrative is still potent. How else would the notion be advanced successfully that a community organizer was qualified to be president?
Hopefully, Trump will stick to the script and not give the media any openings to skewer him. But even if he’s pitch perfect, the narrative will be advanced, giving the Clinton campaign a boost down the home stretch of the campaign.