- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2017

The Trump campaign has launched a weekly news service on social media to provide supporters with positive coverage of the president, amid surveys showing that Mr. Trump’s base of support and job approval ratings are shrinking.

Conservative television commentator Kayleigh McEnany, who was named Monday as spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, served as anchor of the Trump campaign’s “News of the Week” video for the first time last weekend.

After summing up positive economic news and Mr. Trump’s support for stricter legal immigration limits, Ms. McEnany signed off her first report from Trump Tower by telling viewers on Facebook and Twitter, “Thank you for joining us, everybody. I’m Kayleigh McEnany, and that is the real news.”

RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said Ms. McEnany’s “wealth of experience will be invaluable to the RNC as we continue to support President Trump and build on our majorities in Congress as we head into 2018.”

Ms. McEnany, who left a job at CNN, said she is “eager to talk about Republican ideas and values and have important discussions about issues affecting Americans across this country.”

The Trump campaign said it will use the fledgling service to “continue to promote real news” about how Mr. Trump is making America great again. Like the president’s frequent tweeting, the campaign said it will use “news of the week” on social media to “talk to Americans directly.”

Mr. Trump said Monday on Twitter, “Hard to believe that with 24/7 #Fake News on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, NYTIMES & WAPO, the Trump base is getting stronger!”

Some media analysts said the Trump campaign’s “News of the Week” effort appears aimed at holding on to Mr. Trump’s base rather than expanding his support.

“You’re just reinforcing those people who support you, who already have bought the idea that the media are totally against him,” said Richard Benedetto, an adjunct journalism professor at American University and former White House correspondent. “They will cling to that. In the media atmosphere we’re living in today, he’s going to appease the people who support him, and he’s not going to win any converts.”

After months of battling the media over Russia investigations and feuding with his own party in Congress over Obamacare, surveys suggest the developments are starting to take a toll on Mr. Trump’s popularity. His job approval rating has sunk below 40 percent; a Quinnipiac poll last week pegged it at 33 percent.

A survey released Friday by the Republican public affairs firm Firehouse Strategies found that Mr. Trump’s support is slipping in four key swing states: Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, all of which he won in November.

The survey found that Mr. Trump’s base of support has shrunk from 35.3 percent of voters who had a “strongly favorable” view of him in April to 28.6 percent last week. It found that much of that erosion is among Republicans. Strongly favorable views among Republican voters dropped from 54.1 percent to 44.9 percent, while unfavorable views increased from 20.5 percent to 27.9 percent.

“Our data shows Trump losing support inside the Republican Party and a noticeable drop in his perceived honesty,” the firm said in a memo. “Just 6 months in office, Trump is getting into dangerously low territory in key swing states.”

The president said Monday that such polling is “phony” and affected by negative coverage of him in the mainstream media. He pointed to the heavy turnout at raucous campaign-style rallies he has held recently in swing states.

“The Trump base is far bigger & stronger than ever before (despite some phony Fake News polling),” Mr. Trump said. “Look at rallies in Penn, Iowa, Ohio and West Virginia.”

Mr. Trump said the way he sees it, the adversity and his achievements over the first seven months have solidified his base.

“The fact is the Fake News Russian collusion story, record Stock Market, border security, military strength, jobs Supreme Court pick, economic enthusiasm, deregulation & so much more have driven the Trump base even closer together,” he said. “Will never change!”

But the inability of congressional Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare, after promising to do just that for seven years, and the uncertain prospects for tax reform appear to be hurting Mr. Trump and Republican lawmakers with their base.

The Firehouse/Optimus survey said while Republicans still overwhelmingly believe Mr. Trump has been successful (43.9 percent) or that it is too soon to tell (35.8 percent), the percentage of respondents who say he has been unsuccessful has increased from 13.1 percent to 20.4 percent from April to early August.

In the survey, 7 percent of respondents said they will not vote for Republican incumbents next year if Obamacare is not repealed, and 9 percent said they won’t vote to re-elect Republicans if they fail to approve tax reform.

“Failure to deliver major legislative victories is raising the prospects of an electoral setback for Republicans next year,” the group said.

Against that development and faced with the barrage of negative media coverage, Mr. Benedetto said, Mr. Trump’s campaign is taking a rare step of delivering its own news in a broadcast-style format.

“The kind of opposition that Trump is facing from the media is more opposition party than it is Fourth Estate,” he said. “They definitely feel that there’s a need to get around it. They can’t, but they’re giving it a try.”

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