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 Atlantic8 min readPolitics
Trump’s Trade War Was Futile
The president’s clash with Beijing accomplished little—and bodes ill for the growing conservative movement to confront the world’s second superpower.
The Atlantic6 min readPolitics
How To Conduct A Trial In The Senate
The Constitution does not provide procedural guidelines for how an impeachment trial is to be conducted—so the senators of 1868 had to figure it out as they went.
The Atlantic7 min read
History’s Greatest Sea Is Dying
The failure of countries bordering the eastern Mediterranean helps explain the difficulty of carrying out successful climate-change negotiations.