In December of last year, there was a concern that the the National Defense Authorization Act now allowed Voice of America access to U.S. audiences (previously banned by law). This was stoking fears that Donald Trump could wield a powerful new propaganda arm. From fake news to the Trump ministry of propaganda. Those particular fears have not (yet) come to fruition.
In January, POLITICO reported Pro-Trump TV Network Has Big-League Dreams:
The clunky, black Panasonic PS2 belonging to Right Side Broadcasting Network (RSBN), a year-old conservative media startup based in Alabama, made a habit of filming the teeming crowds at Trump rallies and developed a cult following in the process, with Trump supporters regularly holding up makeshift “I love RSBN” signs and seeking out the RSBN cameramen to wave.
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The RSBN operation, which now employs 14 full-time employees and three contractors, began in July 2015, when Seales, a stay-at-home father at the time, grew frustrated with the lack of raw Trump rally footage online. He hired a freelancer to film what became the network’s first Trump rally broadcast and posted it on YouTube. When the video quickly amassed a million views, Seales realized that there was a robust demand for pure Trump footage—a feed that wasn’t clipped or talked over by mainstream outlets . . . That was when, borrowing from a phrase he’s fond of using—“being on the right side of history”—Seales started Right Side Broadcasting Network, originally a livestream operation airing on YouTube. He later added two call-in talk shows to the network’s YouTube channel, one hosted by conservative commentator Wayne Dupree, the other hosted by televangelist Pastor Mark Burns, a Trump surrogate.
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At the same time, the openly pro-Trump RSBN—which bills itself as a “ragtag bunch of media outsiders” seeking to deliver news to the common man—has been quietly attempting to transform itself from a small live-stream operation into a major and diverse digital media outlet, just in time to cover the Trump White House.
Now comes this: Trump launches “real” Trump TV news with Kayleigh McEnany:
A former CNN commentator is now being featured as the host of an mock-TV news report touting President Trump’s successes in what is being dubbed “Trump TV” on his official campaign Facebook page.
A post on Mr. Trump’s social media site reads, “Join Kayleigh McEnany as she provides you the news of the week from Trump Tower in New York!” The post went up on Sunday, just one day after McEnany left her role at the cable network.
In the minute and a half-long video, McEnany summarizes positive stories for Mr. Trump, including the positive economic data, the awarding of the Medal of Honor to a Vietnam war veteran, his endorsement of a Senate immigration bill named the RAISE act, which would limit the number of legal immigrants allowed into the U.S. primarily through the use of a points-based system.
McEnany announced, “President Trump has created more than 1 million new jobs,” noted the low unemployment rate, high consumer confidence and surging stock market and concluded, “President Trump has clearly steered the economy back in the right direction.”
As McEnany ends her segment, she signs out, “And that is the real news.”
No, it is not. This is the Trump propaganda that we see from our blog trolls. Actual factual reporting from the Washington Post declares: For the last time, Trump hasn’t made the economy any better:
Kayleigh McEnany, who used to be a Trump propagandist on CNN before becoming one on the Pravda-esque Trump TV, thinks the fact that we’ve added more than 1 million jobs since Trump took office shows that he has “clearly steered the economy back in the right direction.”
What she forgot to mention, though, is that this is slightly worse than things were at the end of President Barack Obama’s term. That’s right: The economy added an average of 181,000 jobs a month in Obama’s last six months in office compared to an average of 179,000 a month in President Trump’s first six months. That’s a statistically insignificant difference — and a negative one at that — which shows that Trump hasn’t made a diffference on the economy. And why would he have? He hasn’t cut taxes or increased infrastructure spending or done anything else that would meaningfully boost GDP. (Going golfing and tweeting #MAGA a lot don’t count.)
This, in a lot of ways, is the archetypal Trump story: trying to take credit for something he inherited. In his business career, that was all the money and connections he got from this father. Indeed, while Trump likes to say that he turned a “small” $1 million loan from his father into a “massive empire,” the truth is that Trump’s father arranged and guaranteed all of the bank loans that made his son’s first big project possible.
It’s been the same with the economy. Trump hasn’t actually done anything other than cut a few regulations, but he’s made it sound like he’s passed a new New Deal. (“No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days,” he rather ludicrously claimed.) He brags about a “surging economy and jobs,” despite the fact that the economy and jobs are growing at exactly the same rate as before he took office. And, after disparaging the official unemployment rate as being “fake” and “phony” and “totally fiction” while Obama was president, he has apparently decided that it’s “very real now.” In other words, Trump has done nothing and has congratulated himself for the economy Obama left behind.
Well, it’s not just him doing the praising. Trump’s new propaganda channel is, too. Those, at least, are jobs he really can take credit for.
More from the Washington Post, Trump TV’s ‘real news’ sounds more like real propaganda:
Kayleigh McEnany, who has been plying her trade as a pro-Trump pundit on CNN for a while, jumped ship to the Trump Team over the weekend. And Sunday, she debuted a Trump TV segment that she labeled the “real news.”
It is real spin, at best. And it feels a lot like real propaganda — or state TV.
In her first 90-second segment, McEnany makes a number of questionable claims, most notably about the credit President Trump deserves for continued strong economic growth.
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First off, it is true that the July jobs report was “better than expected.” It is also true that the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 2001. And these are legitimately good stories for Trump to tell.
But like Trump, McEnany takes it too far. Saying that Trump “has created more than 1 million jobs” and that Trump “has clearly steered the economy back in the right direction” is taking some real liberties. And that’s for one big reason: The jobs picture has largely continued the trends from late in President Barack Obama’s administration. In his first six months, the economy under Trump has indeed added more than 1 million new jobs — 1.07 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But in the last six months under Obama, the economy added slightly more jobs than that — 1.08 million. And if anything, the average jobs growth under Trump is actually slightly slower than it was in Obama’s final years:
- Trump’s first six months: 179,000 jobs per month
- Obama’s final year (2016): 187,000
- Obama’s full second term: 209,000
As Philip Bump noted after last month’s jobs report, what we’ve seen looks more like a continuation of a strong trend that Trump inherited from Obama, rather than Trump steering “the economy back in the right direction.” Things were already headed in the right direction, in fact, so Trump didn’t need to steer anything. He needed to keep it on course.
Beyond that, there’s the question of how much credit a new president deserves for jobs created in his first months in office. Trump hasn’t signed any major economic legislation. You can make a credible argument that his rhetoric has created the environment for continued strong growth, but saying he “created more than 1 million jobs” is just too much. The economy he oversees created those jobs. He may deserve some credit, but he didn’t create them all.
Lastly, McEnany’s claim that consumer confidence is at a 16-year high doesn’t check out. The University of Michigan has been tracking consumer sentiment since 1952, and it’s actually currently at a nine-month low. It did reach a 13-year high (not 16-year) under Trump this year, but as you can see below, it had already approached that high under Obama, and it’s basically been around the same level for years, with a new peak and then a downturn under Trump.
And it’s not just the University of Michigan. Gallup, which regularly measures economic confidence, also shows it dropping to levels similar to late in the Obama administration after peaking early under Trump.
As Aaron Blake concludes, “The term ‘fake news’ became a punchline during the Trump administration. Trump TV now seems bent on doing the same with ‘real news.'”
UPDATE: Andrew Sorkin writes, “Putting aside the administration’s inability to successfully pass any meaningful legislation thus far — and that’s a lot to put aside — can Mr. Trump fairly take any credit for the market’s trajectory? . . . Listen to the earnings conference calls of the biggest publicly traded companies over the past several weeks — which are the real reason the stock market has soared — and virtually none of those phone calls attributed higher profits to reduced costs to comply with regulations.” As Stocks Reach New Heights, What’s Trump Got to Do With It?
Finally, the Post’s media critic Erik Wemple writes, CNN Trump propagandist becomes RNC Trump propagandist:
Kayleigh McEnany spent months of her professional life dragging down the editorial standards of CNN by serving as a paid pro-Trump contributor, fashioning only the most absurd defenses of the latest outrage from the candidate/president.
Now McEnany is joining the Republican National Committee as a national spokeswoman, according to Politico.
Meaning: She’s moving from paid propagandist at CNN to paid propagandist at the RNC.
Back to the CBS News report:
[This is] the second of the network-news style segments featured on the Trump campaign’s Facebook page, after Mr. Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara had hosted the previous edition. Like McEnany, Lara Trump devoted the segment to applauding her father-in-law’s accomplishments which she claims were not covered due to “so much fake news out there.” The segments are not being posted on the White House Facebook page.
Some have attacked the Trump TV online newscasts — the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul tweeted, “Wow. Feels eerily like so many state-owned channels I’ve watched in other countries.
Or even in this country. RT (TV network).
BTW, McEnany will also serve as the Republican party spokesperson on TV and radio.