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Trump's on-going war with media could hurt presidency: experts

The war of words between U.S. President Donald Trump and the U.S. media has been raging on since he took office last month, which could hurt his presidency, experts said.

The billionaire-turned president has received more media coverage, much of it being negative, than any other president in recent memory. Since its inauguration last month, the new administration has been under intense scrutiny by U.S. media, with many news outlets disapproving of Trump's actions in his first weeks in office.

Trump has over the months attacked U.S. media for putting out "fake news," citing that his administration is unfairly treated by the media.

The tsunami of negative coverage could hurt Trump as he pushes his policies, experts said.

The media pressure could hurt Trump, especially if he doesn't deliver on his promises to spark a major economic boost, they said.

"It is unparalleled in history the amount of coverage that has been given to President Trump and his administration both positive and negative," Dan Mahaffee, an analyst with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, told Xinhua.

The negative coverage has made it difficult for Trump to move in some areas where there was consensus for his policies – tax reform, infrastructure – though the slow movement on those policies also reflects the pace of Washington, Mahaffee said.

However, the negative coverage has also shored up support among Trump's base, as well as consolidating support among some conservatives, who see the negative coverage and begin to sympathize with some of the statements from the administration complaining about the media as the "opposition," Mahaffee said.

If Trump is able to accomplish outcomes that are widely beneficial, there may be more nuanced coverage from mass media. But in today's polarized political and media environment, the partisan coverage from these smaller, left-leaning and right-leaning outlets is likely to remain either negative or positive, Mahaffee said.

Darrell West, vice president and director of governance studies of the Brookings Institution, said that Trump has been experiencing a large amount of negative coverage because he ran a divisive campaign and did little to reach out to opponents.

When people are upset and protesting administrative policies, that leads to critical news coverage, which has hurt Trump by raising doubts about his administration and overall vision, West said.

Trump's election was very much a result of poor economic conditions in many forgotten parts of the country.

That means the success of Trump's presidency depends a great deal on his ability to boost the economy and bring back robust growth, which has been missing since the 2007-2008 economic nose dive.

While most prior recessions have seen the economy come roaring back, many have pointed to an avalanche of government regulations and taxes that have kept large and small businesses from hiring. Trump has been trying to cut the regulations and reduce taxes to create more jobs.

"If (Trump) raises the economy's growth above three percent, the way he promised, his poor start won't matter. People will cheer the economic success," West said, adding that otherwise it would undermine his claim of special expertise on economic issues.

Some experts said the negative media coverage has already hurt the new president, even a month into his presidency.

Christopher Galdieri, assistant professor at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, told Xinhua that the negative media coverage, fueled by both leaks and protests and an absence of both trust in administration spokespersons and support from Republicans in Congress, "is keeping people talking about disorganization in the White House, court rivalries within the administration, and the like, rather than on Trump's own initiatives."

"He has said, generally, that he'd like to do tax reform, repeal Obamacare, and pass a major infrastructure bill. But without anything solid to talk about on those fronts, he's got very little to say to counter the terrible press he's been getting," Galdieri said.

[Source: By Matthew Rusling, Xinhua, Washington, 24Feb17]

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