The Atlantic

How Trump Changed the Topic to Obama's Consolation Calls

Instead of explaining to Americans why four soldiers were killed in Niger, the president commandeered the news cycle, focusing on a narrow and unrelated claim.
Source: Yuri Gripas / Reuters

With the political press in a volley of anonymous leaks and counterleaks about how Barack Obama did or did not console John Kelly after his son’s death, it’s important to reflect on how we got here—and what it shows about President Trump’s methods of controlling the media and the news cycle.

First, a brief timeline. On October 4, four U.S. Special Forces soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger, a country where the United States is not formally at war, and where American troops were supposedly in an advisory and training role. For 12 days, Trump said nothing about the deaths, even as he opined about plenty of other things. The White House was not forthcoming with information, either.

On Monday, Trump threw an impromptu press conference, and was asked about.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic5 min read
Living In California Is Living On The Edge
For residents, the recent earthquakes are a reminder that the state is always poised on the brink of disaster.
The Atlantic3 min read
Qatar Responds: Don’t Cancel the 2022 World Cup
The tournament’s host country pushes back on Franklin Foer’s proposal that FIFA change course and reallocate funds to women’s soccer.
The Atlantic6 min read
Malta’s Fledgling Movement for Abortion Rights
The country is the only one in Europe that outright bans abortion, but public perception is slowly shifting.