On Sunday, Donald Trump tweeted a video of him pummeling a man with CNN’s logo for a face, a choppy edit of an old Trump WWE appearance that was made by Redditor HanAssholeSolo, who has a lengthy archive of racist and anti-semitic posts.
It managed to be both silly and threatening, which is probably as good a description of Trump’s first six months as president as there is. It also, unsurprisingly, ate up coverage on the Sunday shows and space on Monday’s front pages. The usual questions followed: Has Trump gone too far? Why isn’t he taking the threat against journalists more seriously? Shouldn’t he be focused on health care? Or opioids? Or Syria? Or literally anything else?
But Trump, as usual, just kept tweeting. In the 24 hours after he sent the WWE tweet, he attacked the “dishonest media” for trying to prevent him from achieving his goals; he took undeserved credit for the stock market and the unemployment rate; praised the military; announced, for some reason that he would be speaking to Germany and France (and later, Italy) on Monday morning; and expressed optimism (albeit in a somewhat ominous way) about the prospect of peace in the Middle East. And then, the punchline:
Trump is unusually manic right now, but that only means that the normal cycle of his tweets is sped up. This is what Trump has been doing for years now. He’ll say something outrageous, offensive, and/or dangerous, either on Twitter or at a rally. Then the media will cover this statement as the outrageous, and/or dangerous statement that it is for hours or days. And then Trump blames the media for paying attention to his dumb statement which was designed to get media attention, instead of his administration’s (extremely sketchy) successes. But even Trump must know that this is all a game. If Trump really wanted the media to pay attention to things that weren’t his tweets, then he would stop tweeting.