Did Donald Trump pivot last night in calling for “unity and healing” at the American Legion in Reno last after his fiery and combative speech in Phoenix? You’d be hard pressed to tell if you watched last night’s report on ABC News on Trump’s Reno speech. David Muir introduces this segment from Cecilia Vega — the reporter who insisted that Trump committed “incitement, pure and simple” in Phoenix — by noting “a starkly different tone” from Trump.
So what was that “starkly different tone,” and what did Trump say in Reno? Who knows? Vega spends three minutes talking about Phoenix, rehashing her earlier report. Be sure to stick around for her reference to the violence after the speech without noting which side attacked police, too:
So what happened in Reno? CBS News provided a somewhat more balanced report on last night’s speech by, er … actually reporting on last night’s speech:
“It is time to heal the wounds that have divided us, and to seek a new unity based on the common values that unite us,” Mr. Trump said. “We are one people, with one home, and one flag.”
The president’s message of unity contrasted with his, where he insulted Republican , derided the news media and defended his controversial . On Wednesday, the president recognized the American Legion for its support of the passage of a recent GI bill and signed a bill — the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act — to speed up the appeals process for veterans’ disability claims. …
“Today, we are here to honor you for the sacrifices you have made to defend our nation and preserve our way of life,” the president said. “But we are also here for another reason. We are here to hold you up as an example of the strength, courage and resolve that our country will need to overcome the many challenges that we face. We are here to draw inspiration from you as we seek to renew the bonds of loyalty that bind us together as one people and one nation.”
Both ABC and CBS cast this as a dramatic pivot. CBS’ Norah O’Donnell surmises that it might signal a more cooperative mood at the White House as they prepare for Congress to return from recess:
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 24, 2017
Don’t bet on this being a pivot. These were two very different events. Last night’s speech at the American Legion was a traditional presidential appearance, while the Phoenix event was a rally for supporters of Trump. He gave each audience what they wanted, or at least what the White House hopes they wanted. We’ll see plenty of both versions of Trump over the next three-plus years, just like we’ve seen plenty of both versions of Trump over the last couple of years.
That seems so obvious that the entire idea of a strategic shift or pivot after one speech practically begs for an explanation. Maybe someone needs a new narrative? On Morning Joe, they’re already discussing the need for a pivot, and how all presidents who succeed learn how to execute them:
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) August 24, 2017
I largely agree with the concept here — good executives learn how to adapt, shift tactics, and change focus as conditions evolve. The idea that George W. Bush improved in his second term because he pivoted is rather stunning coming from an MSNBC panel, however. When Bush finally adapted to changing conditions in Iraq by implementing the “surge” and COIN strategies, he was accused of doubling down, not “pivoting.” And if Bush’s second term is now considered a success by the mainstream media, then I’ve missed a memo somewhere. However, it does make for a fun narrative, and that’s the important thing, I suppose.