Is the Reality TV President Losing His Audience?

When Donald Trump won the White house, I wrote that he had done so, in my view, not because of the rules of politics, campaigning and communication he had broken, but by consistently following these two fundamental principles of effective persuasive communication:

** Know your audience — its interests, needs and concerns, and most especially its hopes, fears, wishes and dreams.

** Deliver to that audience a message that, above all, it finds
beneficial and emotionally satisfying.

Now into the second year of what I think has been appropriately labeled “The First Reality TV Presidency”, how is this “show” is playing? As the Trump presidency continues to unfold (or unravel, depending on your point of view) it is beginning to look to this observer as if both the message and the messenger aren’t working quite as well as they used to. What sounded fresh to the faithful (and frightening to others) when Trump was on the stump has become old hat. Trump’s rallies today look like nostalgia plays, hardly the stuff of a transformational political movement.

Moreover, as each day goes by, the implementation of Trump’s promise to “Make America Great Again” is proving to be underwhelming. The “steak” of presidential performance is not delivering on the “sizzle” of the promises. Is Main Street really benefitting from the much-ballyhooed Trump tax cut? Are people relishing a future with trade and tariff wars? Is health care better since Trump moved into the White House? Does America feel safer and see its future brighter under the chaotic leadership of Donald Trump?

These are just a few of many questions that the ad hocracy of Donald Trump has raised. It is a list that also includes issues even the most ardent Trump supporter cannot ignore — the Twitter tantrums, positional flip-flops, record number of firings, personal indiscretions, and whatever is coming from the Robert Mueller investigations.

Will Trump’s salesmanship and showman DNA keep him on top moving forward? In the end, Trump’s self-assessment that he could walk onto Fifth Avenue in New York, shoot someone and not lose popularity, may prove true.

Still, as the Trump-directed Ship of State sails on, it does so now with something new on board: the undeniable understanding among 320 million passengers that this first “Reality TV President” is a man who cannot be trusted. The feeling here is that cannot be good for “ratings” moving forward.