Media have found their latest Trump pivot: General Kelly

Media figures promoted the idea that President Donald Trump’s administration is heading towards a reset, this time following the firing of White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci along with the swearing in of former Marine General John F. Kelly as the new White House chief of staff. Kelly’s move to chief of staff is just the latest example of the media’s obsession with the fantasy of a Trump “reset” that will never happen.

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Trump’s White House communications director ousted after Gen. Kelly named chief of staff

Anthony Scaramucci is fired as White House communications director. Less than two weeks after he was hired, Anthony Scaramucci was fired from his role as the White House communications director after former General John F. Kelly was brought on as the new White House chief of staff. From The New York Times:

“Anthony Scaramucci will be leaving his role as White House Communications Director,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in a statement. “Mr. Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team. We wish him all the best.”

Mr. Scaramucci’s abrupt removal came just 10 days after the wealthy New York financier was brought on to the West Wing staff, a move that convulsed an already chaotic White House and led to the departures of Sean Spicer, the former press secretary, and Reince Priebus, the president’s first chief of staff.

In a Twitter message just before 5:30 on Monday morning, just hours before the announcement about Mr. Scaramucci, Mr. Trump insisted that there has been “No WH chaos!”

The decision to remove Mr. Scaramucci became public as Mr. Kelly, who replaced Mr. Priebus as the top adviser in the White House, began his first day in charge of the White House staff. He told aides gathered in early-morning staff meetings that he intended to impose a new sense of order and operational discipline that had been absent under his predecessor.” [New York Times, 7/31/17]

Media points to Kelly as proof of a Trump “reset”

Fox’s Chris Stirewalt: People may look back at Gen. Kelly firing Scaramucci and say “This was the moment that the comeback started.” From the July 31 edition of Fox News’ America’s News Headquarters:

CHRIS STIREWALT: If this takes, we may look back on this week or ten days. I'll put it this way, if Donald Trump ultimately is a successful president, we may look back on this week or two and say this was the moment that the comeback started. This may have been the time. And as is often the case in life and in politics and in any organization, you have to hurt enough -- the hurt has to be bad enough that you become willing to make a change. And the change we see in this administration absolutely is that we see discipline emerging out of the fog of chaos and mercurial staff changes and all of this silliness and solipsism that has dominated much of the administration to this point. We suddenly see order start to perhaps emerge here. And this is a big move and a move to the good it looks like for the president. [Fox News, America's News Headquarters, 7/31/17]

MSNBC’s Kristen Welker: General Kelly’s hiring “could be an indication that things are stabilizing here within the administration.” From the July 31 edition of MSNBC’s MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi:

KRISTEN WELKER: Anthony Scaramucci got into what felt like I think for a lot of folks here behind the scenes like a personal tit for tat with two of the president’s most senior advisors. He sort of turned this administration into a reality TV show in a way that we really hadn’t seen. This is someone who, like the president, is brash, he likes the spotlight and so I think that’s part of what earned him the job in the first place but there some sense that it became too focused on him and then again, that very controversial interview that he did with The New Yorker was sort of the final straw and General Kelly felt that he needed a fresh start as well. So while this is another shakeup Ali, it could be an indication that things are stabilizing here within the administration. [MSNBC, MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi, 7/31/17]


MSNBC’s Peter Alexander: General Kelly “has in effect taken the lead here, trying to professionalize” the West Wing. From the July 31 edition of MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi:

PETER ALEXANDER: The general, John Kelly, retired four-star general, formerly the secretary of Homeland Security. What's notable is that the influence behind that, much of it came from the president's closest advisers, including his daughter Ivanka Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner, both of whom praised, according to sources familiar with those private conversations in dealing, they praised the professionalism of John Kelly. They, according to sources, say “they were prepared to follow his lead.” Well, it appears that John Kelly has in effect taken the lead here, trying to professionalize as best he can the west wing, which may be a good indication for those people that may be frustrated and fed up by the president's tweets and some of his public riffs looking for a more professional atmosphere here at the White House that he has been granted at least some significant authority to make some big changes already in this West Wing. [MSNBC, MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi, 7/31/17]

Fox’s Shepard Smith says maybe the White House is “turning a corner today” with Scaramucci gone. From the July 31 edition of Fox News’ Shepard Smith Reporting:

SHEP SMITH (HOST): Twitter loves- Twitter, it just a love festival and it’s loving Anthony Scaramucci like--well for the next few minutes. Bret Baier is back with us from Capitol Hill. It just feels like they can’t get out of their way. Maybe they are turning a corner today. I don’t know.

BRET BAIER: Yeah, I know. Listen, you just said Twitter had the guessing of the New York Post headline and there were all kinds of little phrases in there dealing with the Mooch. I think that the other thing we are not talking about here is the comfortable nature of having a general who is war-hardened next to the president. And how that makes somebody like Jim Mattis’ the defense secretary or the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who had his own problems with the White House, how that makes them feel. [Fox News, Shepard Smith Reporting, 7/31/17]

David Bossie: “There is a new chapter born in the White House today.” From the July 31 edition of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight:

TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): And I think it is reassuring for a lot of people watching from the outside. He was there less than two weeks but maybe it was a Kamikaze mission. He got rid of a lot of people. Three of them; Michael Short, press aide, the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and the press secretary, Sean Spicer. Any chance any of them will come back in other capacities now that Scaramucci is gone?

DAVID BOSSIE: I don't see that happening. I think there is a new chapter born today in the White House. This new chief of staff has put together an incredible career of public service and sacrifice. And I think he is coming in there to work as a team member, as a leader of the team, for President Trump. And I am looking forward to the job that he is going to be able to do over the next weeks, months, and years. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 7/31/17]

Charles Krauthammer tells Fox’s Tucker Carlson that “if this is a successful presidency, they will date it to this last week.” From the July 31 edition of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight:

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: I really do think if this is a successful presidency, which is possible, they will date it to this last week, which is where they hit rock bottom, and they got somebody in control, Kelly, who doesn't suffer fools. Obviously, his first edict was Scaramucci went way, way beyond the lines. It is not just a matter of chaos, it was sort of unseemly, both because of the in-fighting, and because of the “colorful language,” and it couldn't be tolerated.
It appears as if he is going to establish lines of communication, lines of control that will all go through him. If that is so, and I would add one more caveat, and that caveat is attainable, the second one may not be, which is, if he can have some influence, on reigning in the president's own impulses, then I think they have a very good chance of succeeding, if they don't, if he can't do that, they will fail, it’ll be Trump 2.0 and it will go the way of Trump 1.0. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 7/31/17]

Bill O’Reilly: “This may be the turnaround point.” From the July 31 edition of No Spin News:

But here's the headline: this is Donald Trump's last chance, his last chance to right his administration so that they can go forward and enact laws and policies that are good for you.


So what we have here is, just to recap, another blow to the Trump White House in the sense that everybody's getting their heads cut off. But this may be the turnaround point. And if it isn't, it's the last chance. [, 7/31/17]

CNN's Matt Lewis: Trump's “fetish” for military generals “may turn out to be our saving grace.” From the July 31 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:

MATT LEWIS: Trump has a lot of weird affinities for different things, but his sort of fetish for military generals, loves obviously generals is maybe the one really good, of all his weird --

JEFFREY LORD: I would say respect as opposed to fetish.

LEWIS: Of all his quirks, of all of his quirks

BAKARI SELLERS: Except McMaster.

LEWIS: Well, of all of his quirks I would say his reverence and respect for military generals may turn out to be our saving grace. [CNN, Anderson Cooper 3607/31/17]

This isn’t the first time media have pushed a Trump administration reset narrative

Fox contributor argued that Trump’s military intervention is “The pivot we have always looked for.” Following Trump’s order to launch a missile strike on a Syrian government air base, Fox News’ Chris Stirewalt praised the action as “the pivot we have always looked for in Donald Trump.” [Media Matters, 4/13/17]

Media praised Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress as “a chance to reset.” Trump’s February 28 address to a joint session of Congress was followed by the media narrative that Trump had “pushed the reset button” on his presidency. The AP reported that Trump made “an appeal to American optimism,” and CNN’s Van Jones declared that Trump “became president of the United States” during his speech. [Media Matters, 3/1/17]

CNN anchor: Trump “has not tweeted anything controversial or attacking in three days. Is this the pivot? On the March 1 edition of CNN Newsroom, host Poppy Harlow asked whether Trump’s pivot came after he didn’t tweet anything controversial for three days. [Media Matters, 3/1/17]

Media called Trump’s non-apology to Clinton was a “pivot.” In August, media characterized Trump’s expression of “regret” for some of his past rhetoric as a “pivot” and a “new tone” for the then-Republican nominee. Fox & Friends claimed that Trump had “completed his pivot to the general election,” while MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough asserted that Trump showed “a complete reversal of just about everything he’s been.” [Media Matters, 8/19/16]

During the 2016 presidential campaign, the media repeatedly hoped for a pivot from Trump. As the Republican nominee for president, the media covered Trump as constantly on the verge of a “pivot” from his racist, sexist, off-the-cuff rhetoric into becoming a more “serious sounding candidate.” [Media Matters, 6/24/16]