Out of the Stable, to Insanity, and Beyond: How the Media has Affected the Presidency

By Janice Barlow

EVERYONE KNOWS that when someone reacts badly when he is taunted or teased, that it only causes his tormentors to bring it on even more. We all remember back to our school days when those poor kids were relentlessly picked on. Maybe we were one of them. The more the victims reacted by lashing out at their antagonizers, the more the bullies would delight in picking on their easy targets.

Last week, journalist Michael Wolff‘s book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” flew off the shelves in book stores as fast as it was put on display. One of the reasons for this overwhelming demand for a political book (that is even being purchased by people who don’t normally read books), is the boisterous reaction of the Trump administration, and the president himself. They can’t stop talking about this book!

Another reason is the screaming and yelling of the Trump defenders about how “full of lies” the book is. They can’t stop, so it’s like telling little children not to touch a light switch. They just want to do it.

People want to buy it. They want to know what’s in there. 

Normally, when the media goes on full blown attack against a political figure, the person will either make a few brief comments, often snide, and then return to his/her job at hand. In the case of the president, that would be – Acting as Commander and Chief of the United States of America.

In 2009, Barack Obama went full blast against Fox News in retaliation for several points the media giant claimed on its show. They were enough of a distraction for Obama to take his eyes off his campaign and burn holes into his accusers with them:

In January 2007, Fox & Friends made the false claim that Obama had attended an Islamic school in Indonesia. Two months later, a Democratic debate that was to have been hosted by Fox News was canceled after the network’s chairman, Roger Ailes, deliberately confused Obama’s name with that of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, telling media executives in a speech, “It’s true that Barack Obama is on the move.”

These media polarizations against a sitting president are nothing new.

Back in George W Bush‘s administration, he had to deal with the media on many fronts, including criticism of how he handled 9/11.  But in addition to that he:

was branded a racist over the perceived lack of response for Hurricane Katrina; he and his aides were called war criminals over the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib; he was being blamed for the housing crisis that contributed to the 2007-2008 economic collapse; he was criticized for his “feeble” response to Russia and mocked for having once claimed to have seen Vladimir Putin’s soul.

How does George W Bush react?

During a conversation with reporters he explained, perhaps without intending to, why his White House often seems indifferent to the press. “How do you then know what the public thinks?” a reporter asked, according to Bush aides and reporters who heard the exchange. And Bush replied, “You’re making a huge assumption—that you represent what the public thinks.”…

Disciplined—the White House is almost like a private corporation—and relatively silent, too. “The vast majority of people in this building—the press doesn’t believe this—don’t want to talk to the press…They want to do their job. There’s a natural tendency in political communicators to want to be liked by the press,” Mark McKinnon says. “By doing that, somehow you improve the nature of your coverage. . . . I think this Administration rejects that notion. I don’t think they think it works.”

The old theory from physics, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction“, almost seems to apply in how the press (often including the hostile public eye) reacts to a president who is lashing out.

If Donald Trump simply would have brushed off or laughed off Wolff’s book as just another bout of FAKE NEWS hurled at him because it goes with the territory, no doubt the book wouldn’t already be a best seller, and out of stock at most stores.

Instead, Trump has put out a “Cease and Desist” order against his former friend and former White House Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, whom he just referred to as “Sloppy Steve” in a Tweet. Bannon had made comments in an interview to Wolff in the Fire and Fury book about Trump’s family.

Trump has also stated quite firmly in Tweets and in press conferences that he is a “stable genius“, a witty combination of words that now has a hashtag on social media.  Not only is the “stable genius” flaky, but Trump seems to have forgotten that it was not his first try at running for President. He lost a run in 2000. Did he really forget, or did he just believe that everyone else would?


So here we are. One year into a presidency where not only are the leader of the free world’s family and close associates under investigation for collusion with Russia regarding election fraud among various other unsavory matters, but he is battling low approval ratings, a tabloid press type book that he can’t seem to refute (since there are apparent audio recordings of the actual interviews) and he has to remind us how “smart” and “stable” he is. Daily, both of these claims seem to get shot down.

When was the last time you had to tell someone you were sane? Or brag about being a genius?


I will end this article with a refresher of the indicators of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. You can read them and reach your own conclusions:

  • An insatiable appetite for the attention of others
  • Extreme feelings of jealousy
  • An expectation of special treatment
  • Exaggerating achievements, talents, and importance
  • Extreme sensitivity and a tendency to be easily hurt and to feel rejected with little provocation
  • Difficulty maintaining healthful relationships
  • Fantasizing about their own intelligence, success, power, and appearance
  • An ability to take advantage of others to achieve a goal, without regret or conscience
  • A lack empathy, or ability to understand and share the feelings of others, and a tendency to disregard others’ feelings
  • A belief that only certain people can understand their uniqueness
  • A tendency to consider themselves as skilled in romance
  • Responding to criticism with anger, humiliation, and shame
  • Seeking out praise and positive reinforcement from others
  • An expectation that others will agree with them and go along with what they want
  • Whatever they crave or yearn for must be “the best”
  • Others may see narcissists’ goals as selfish ones. They may describe the person as self-obsessed, arrogant, tough-minded, and lacking emotion.


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