On Tuesday, the White House released a nearly two-minute video titled “The Summer of Winning” that documented a series of alleged – you guessed it! – wins for President Donald Trump and his administration over the summer.
The video was meant as a direct response to a story in The Washington Post on Labor Day headlined: “Trump’s lost summer: Aides claim victory, but others see incompetence and intolerance.” Trump himself had tweeted about the story shortly after it came out; “The Amazon Washington Post did a story that I brought racist attacks against the ‘Squad,’” he wrote. “No, they brought racist attacks against our Nation. All I do is call them out for the horrible things they have said. The Democrats have become the Party of the Squad!”
There are a WHOLE lot of “winning” claims in the video. Many of them, and this may surprise you, don’t seem like “winning” at all. More like losing. Consider:
*Footage of Trump visiting a hospital in El Paso, Texas, following the mass shootings there last month. But that trip should hardly be described as a “win.” His boast that he got a large crowd the last time he was in El Paso and the infamous photo of Trump giving the thumbs up in a picture with a baby whose parents were murdered in the shootings are the two most memorable moments of that visit. (Not to mention Trump’s falsehood that doctors were running out of operating rooms to greet him when he toured the hospital.) Plus, even if the El Paso visit had gone well, is comforting victims of a mass shooting really something that fits into a video on “winning?”
*There’s a series of quick cuts of Trump meeting with various world leaders – from Qatar, Mongolia, Pakistan and Poland among others. Claiming those meetings as wins is like me claiming that answering emails every day is a win. It’s just part of the job. Every president meets with foreign leaders. Claiming those meetings as wins is like telling your kid he’s the big winner because he got the attendance award at school.
*Trump’s visit to the Demilitarized Zone – and the steps he took into North Korea – get lots of airtime in the video. And that was historic! But “winning?” North Korea hasn’t changed its behavior in any meaningful way since that meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un, and, in fact, has picked up its pace of firing projectiles into the sea.
*The G7 meeting late last month in France is depicted in the video as a major victory. But reports out of the gathering of world leaders seem to suggest a less successful outcome. Trump skipped a meeting on climate change – which follows his decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord – and reportedly clashed behind closed doors with other leaders due to his public advocacy for re-inviting Russia into the G7. Then there was his wild press conference just before he left France.
As I said above, these are only a few of the something-short-of-winning claims the video, which ends with Trump just saying “winning” over and over again, makes.
So why make a video like this? Because it’s entirely consistent with Trump’s broader efforts to create an alternate factual universe in which all he does is win and the only reason he doesn’t get credit for all those wins is because the media hates him and/or is deeply corrupt.
And, because it will work – at least for his base. A slickly produced video that elides facts – we have no signed trade deal with Japan (the video suggests we do), the USMCA trade deal has not been agreed to by Congress yet, etc. – but makes the President look good (and the media look bad) is just what Trump’s most loyal supporters want. They won’t seek out alternate sources of information or fact check the claims made in the video. They will simply conclude that the “Amazon Washington Post” (in the video’s words) and other media outlets are out to get the President and will stop at nothing to do so.
Videos like these – and Trump’s massive social media presence, which allows him to spread them to anyone and everyone who supports him – is why polling increasingly shows that we live in two different Americas operating under two different presumptions about the state of the country, the President and the very idea of facts and truth.
Of course, facts are not a partisan position – or at least they shouldn’t be.
Watch the video. If that’s what winning looks like, I’d hate to see losing.