National Lampoons: Four things POTUS' visit taught us about the state of our press nation

There was always going to be a whiff of the Griswalds' in National Lampoon's European Vacation about President Trump's visit last week but, whether you love him or loathe him, it taught us all a thing or two about how to do our jobs.

Like him or not, Trump's press conference with Theresa May was a media masterclass, argues Adam Mack (pic credit: Stefan Rousseau-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Like him or not, Trump's press conference with Theresa May was a media masterclass, argues Adam Mack (pic credit: Stefan Rousseau-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Here are four things I’ve learned from watching him in action:

The Sun still shines

The Sun clearly hasn’t lost its ability to lead the political agenda. Its ‘May has wrecked Brexit’ interview with Trump put an imperial spanner in the Government’s EU works. Furthermore, POTUS’ retraction of his 'fake news' allegations and subsequent apology to Theresa May was a clear shot in the arm for Tom Newton Dunn and his Editor. That said, May’s response to Trump’s apology – "Don’t worry, it’s only the press…" – suggests our Prime Minister may have learned a bit from her American BFF’s belligerence towards the media…

But social media wins

From the person who photoshopped a Handmaid’s bonnet on Theresa May in the picture of her being led up the steps in a red dress to Blenheim by Trump, to the thousands who captured pricelessly witty protest banners in their social feeds, it’s clear that social media is the default channel for creative satire nowadays. As much as I truly love them, the speed of social wit is fast making formats like Have I Got News for You redundant. Equally, the week’s activity showed very clearly how the symbiotic relationship between social media and the press can be an incredibly potent combination, with one fuelling the other relentlessly (and vice versa).

A media masterclass

Trump’s Blenheim press conference bantz with his Sun interviewers was a masterclass in crisis/reputation management. His #sorrynotsorry apology to the PM. His openness about how he had said ‘many positive things about Mrs May’. His question on why these hadn’t made the headline. His joke about how they were probably just posted to the internet edition. All of these things were designed to seed doubt, QC-style, about the workings of the press and cast himself as an honest broker. Whether you believe him or not (or like him or not), it’s hard not to admire the chutzpah.

He strides around like the ‘Stay Puft Marshmallow Man’ in Ghostbusters, revelling in the antagonism and division he brings and leaving us all second-guessing his endgame.

Adam Mack, chief executive W Communications

Breaking eggs to make omelettes

The President creates chaos wherever he goes, spitting out more soundbites in a day than a year’s worth of Hollywood trailers and committing more gaffes than a roll of gaffer tape (witness his time with the Queen inspecting the Coldstream Guards). Equally, he aligns himself with people who send the liberal establishment into meltdown – Boris Johnson as Prime Minister material, Piers Morgan invited onto Air Force One for an interview. He strides around like the ‘Stay Puft Marshmallow Man’ in Ghostbusters, revelling in the antagonism and division he brings and leaving us all second-guessing his endgame.

Classic distraction tactics

Whilst many of us may not agree with Trump’s methods, his politics or his friends, his media intelligence is at the ‘highest level of special’ and there is much we can learn from studying him in action, if only we can cut through the bluster and cast aside our own tendency to lampoon those we disagree with.

Adam Mack is chief executive of W Communications

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