Not even a week into his job as President Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow’s got one important thing figured out.
The 45th president — who connected with millions of followers on Twitter to build a longshot campaign into a juggernaut that first defeated the Republican establishment then destroyed the Clinton Democrat dynasty — isn’t going to terminate that social media connection any time soon.
And in a Wednesday interview with Stuart Varney on Fox Business’ “Varney & Co.,” Kudlow laid out the simple reason for that fact.
The moment came at the tail end of a wide-ranging interview that proved why Kudlow was the perfect choice to be Trump’s director of the White House National Economic Council.
An avowed free trader, Kudlow defended Trump’s recent moves to impose tariffs on imports from China as a necessary pushback to China’s own restrictions on American trade (“Blame China for Unfair Trade, Not Trump,” as Fox Business headlined it).
Kudlow downplayed talk of a personal animosity driving Trump’s recent tough talk about the internet retail giant Amazon and said the complaints are justified (the liberals at Mediaite summed it up: “Larry Kudlow Backs Trump’s War on Amazon: ‘We Need a ‘Level Playing Field’”).
After making the case for the president on the national issues, Kudlow explained his views on Trump’s use of Twitter to connect with the American public, and it was so simple even a liberal can understand it.
Kudlow’s reasoning came in response to a serious question from Varney about Trump’s proper role in the Amazon situation.
“Should the president be the one who is out front on this, tweeting like he has?” Varney asked. “I mean, the president of the United States?”
“The president of the United States is the president of the United States, Stu,” Kudlow responded. “If he wants to tweet, he’s gonna tweet. That’s the way it works here. I’m trying hard to move into my new position. I like to tweet. I love to tweet. I hope they let me.”
Sure, it was lighthearted, and the two men laughed over the idea that anyone is going to stop a president from communicating how he chooses. But there was more here than an 800-pound gorilla joke.
From the earliest days of his campaign for the Republican nomination, Trump has been able to use his Twitter posts to control his message in a way that would have been impossible in an increasingly hostile mainstream media.
And now that he’s been installed at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for more than a year, the president knows that he can still drive media coverage and communicate with the country through the direct contact Twitter allows.
Considering the state of relations between the mainstream media and the Trump White House — where negative news about the administration is the overwhelming majority of content — relying on traditional media outlets to get his message out would have been a recipe for failure.
That Twitter contact could well be the reason Trump’s approval rating hit 50 percent in February, even in the face of relentless negative coverage from the media.
Some presidents, like Barack Obama, could get their message to the country through lapdog media outlets and softball questions. Some, like Ronald Reagan, used televised addresses to go over the head of Congress straight to the American people.
Trump uses Twitter, and as Kudlow pointed out, “The president of the United States is the president of the United States. … If he wants to tweet, he’s gonna tweet. That’s the way it works here.”
So far, it’s working pretty well.
Trump figured it out long ago. Kudlow, a former CNBC host who has his own detractors in the liberal media, has figured it out only a week into his White House job.
One of these days, maybe the mainstream media will, too.
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