The Media Today

The media today: A preview of Trump’s autumn

September 5, 2017

With the eyes of the nation focused on the natural devastation in East Texas last week, front pages and nightly news broadcasts seemed to contain less coverage of Donald Trump than at any point since at least the inauguration. Over the holiday weekend, even as the recovery from Harvey is just beginning, the president was back on center stage. A series of storylines, from a pressing international crisis to a ramped-up investigation into his administration’s connections with Russia, will likely dominate news coverage in the days and weeks ahead.

On Sunday morning, North Korea conducted its most powerful nuclear test, setting off shockwaves both literal and figurative. Though it was unclear whether the blast came from a hydrogen bomb, as state media claimed, the action is a worrying development in an unstable region. Trump responded by criticizing US ally South Korea’s “talk of appeasement,” and by threatening to cut off trade with any nation doing business with the North Korean regime, a move that would send the global financial order into chaos. The question of how the US will respond to an increasingly belligerent North Korea will be one Trump has to answer in the coming weeks.

Another pressing decision for Trump is expected today. Politico’s Eliana Johnson reports that the president is expected to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, President Obama’s signature immigration policy that allows those brought to the US as children to remain in the country and obtain work permits. Multiple outlets confirmed Johnson’s reporting, though it is unclear exactly how the administration will roll out this action, and as always, nothing is final until Trump actually makes his decision public. The move has already led to a renewed media focus on the issue, and if Congress decides to push for legislation, expect coverage of immigration to be a major theme throughout the fall.

And then there is the ever-present specter of the Russia investigation. Upcoming hearings mean there will be leaks, grandstanding politicians, and fresh fuel for conspiracy theories. Three congressional committees are investigating the matter, and several top Trump associates are expected to offer testimony in the upcoming weeks. Politico’s Austin Wright and Ali Watkins have a good curtain-raiser on the fall schedule, writing that Trump will face “constant headlines about the latest incremental developments in these sprawling and unwieldy investigations.

In addition to these narrative threads, Trump will have to deal with the ongoing federal response to the destruction wrought by Harvey, a looming shutdown if Congress fails to fund the government by the end of September, and increasingly vocal opposition from leaders within his own party. Below, more on the president’s autumn.

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Pete Vernon is a former CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @ByPeteVernon.