Fresh from claiming he invented the word “fake” and ordering his second-in-command to fly to Indianapolis to spend a couple of minutes at an NFL game, President Donald Trump picked up his phone this morning to issue another presidential message.
Among this morning’s addresses was a reaction to the news that ESPN anchor Jemele Hill has been suspended from her job as a result of what the network referred to as “impulsive” tweeting. Their action clearly met with presidential approval, as the commander-in-chief took to the social network this morning to attack Hill’s stewardship of ESPN’s SportsCenter, per USA Today.
“With Jemele Hill at the mike,” the leader of the free world subtweeted, “it is no wonder ESPN’s ratings have ‘tanked,'” going on to add that the ratings have fallen so far as to be the “talk of the industry.” Although it might be argued that the talk of the industry is more likely to be the president of a developed nation yet again snarking at a sports anchor, it is true that ESPN’s ratings have fallen, as have those of every TV network as the range of streaming options diversifies further.
The tweet was perhaps inevitable, bringing together as it did the president’s two most-cherished topics: falling media ratings and kneeling NFL players. Hill’s suspension, for a second breach of ESPN’s social media policy, followed a tweet sent on Sunday advising fans who back the ongoing protest to hit owners like Jerry Jones and Stephen Ross in the pocket by boycotting team sponsors.
Interestingly, Trump’s first tweet of the day was about the protest – before getting on to comparatively minor matters such as immigration and healthcare, he complained about the NFL receiving “massive tax breaks while… disrespecting our flag, anthem and country.” He then added “Change tax law!” forgetting for a moment that, as president, he might have ways of effecting that change aside from tweeting about it.
Given the president’s laser-like focus on the ratings of networks such as ESPN, CNN, and NBC — and his interest in the circulation of newspapers such as the Washington Post and the New York Times (which he again dubbed “failing”) in a separate subtweet aimed (yet again) at Tennessee Senator Bob Corker — it may be argued that the only ratings in which he seems uninterested are his own approval ratings, which, according to a survey released this week by Morning Consult, are down in all 50 states. Per CNBC.com, this is accompanied by a 19 percent drop in his approval rating nationwide. His nationwide disapproval rating, meanwhile, has climbed above 50 percent.
Maybe in an attempt to boost these flagging ratings, the president will take bipartisan action in a bid to steer major legislation, such as tax reform or healthcare, through Congress at some point before the first anniversary of his famously well-attended inauguration. That remains to be seen. However, given the annoyance felt towards the president from the likes of Rex Tillerson, John McCain, and Corker among others, it’s a fair bet that there are increasing numbers of people wishing it wasn’t just sports anchors who were getting suspended for “impulsive tweeting.”
[Featured Image by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images]