Better yet, Ms. Rapinoe and the rest of the team know how to set the terms of engagement and stay on the offensive — they force their ideological opposition to respond and often make them look petty and weak. In a wonderful piece, the Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins described the effect of this mind-set as the team’s “pursuing an insurrection in which its opponents are actually its secret teammates.”
This strategy — essentially, “have your enemies do your work for you” — makes Ms. Rapinoe and her teammates an excellent foil to a president with an oxygen-sucking gift for commandeering attention. Mr. Trump’s ability to hijack platforms and turn unrelated discussions into fights about him has scrambled the brains of his political opponents. The traditional approaches — fact-checking, for instance — are defensive; they require lending some portion of your platform (and attention) to the hijacker. The press has figured this out the hard way during the Trump administration. Batting down falsehoods and conspiracy theories requires meeting the president on his terms and playing into the oppositional role Mr. Trump has cast for the media.