This media dynamic is rarely mentioned in the larger debate about Twitter banning Mr. Trump, but it ought to be. And it seems a damning critique of the press that a primary reason a Twitter ban would hurt the president is that he’d lose a good deal of amplification by journalists.
The national political press continues to struggle with how to cover an unconventional presidency. Reporters and networks focus the majority of their efforts on documenting the Trump administration’s corruption and dysfunction. But the Trump presidency shows the limits of this genre of confrontational, truth-to-power journalism. Specifically, the punching up strategy doesn’t work all that well when the power wants you to punch them in the face because that’s how they derive their power.
“The strategy of power now is not to dominate the whole narrative,” Peter Pomerantsev, a senior fellow at the London School of Economics and the author of “This Is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality” told me recently. “It’s to polarize citizens and construct a very potent worldview and to alienate them from the truth. When journalists speak truth to power they’re by nature giving the powerful the opposition they want.”