This kind of rhetoric is emerging as a central element of his 2018 and 2020 campaign strategies. Republican strategists, including officials behind Trump’s reelection effort, are operating under the premise that Democrats will be plenty energized for the midterms and 2020 elections — and they largely see their job as helping the GOP match, or exceed, that energy.
“This is what happens when two parties are at war,” said former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer, referring to Trump and the news media. “But like two combatants in a war, all the civilians can do is shake their heads. The issue of who fired the first bullet doesn’t really matter anymore. It’s just a war.”
But whereas mainstream media outlets correct false reports, Trump and his White House refuse to back down from exaggerations, falsehoods and outright lies. On Saturday, the president claimed on Twitter that a White House official quoted by The New York Times “doesn’t exist.” In fact, the official the paper cited spoke to dozens of reporters in a background briefing arranged by the White House press office — on the condition that the official not be quoted by name.