Continetti: Sharpie Story a 'Winning Issue' for Trump as He Battles the Media

'His favorite punching bag is the mainstream media'

September 6, 2019

Washington Free Beacon editor in chief Matthew Continetti argued the media's obsession with President Donald Trump's altering a map of Hurricane Dorian's path is a "winning issue" for him as he continues doing battle with the news media.

On Friday's Meet the Press Daily, Continetti directly criticized the media for refusing to move on and making themselves Trump's "punching bag." Host Chuck Todd said he thought Trump stumbled into the controversy and decided to use it to his opportunity.

"He views it: 'All right, now I'm going to have a war with the media, because I can make the media the enemy on this and my people won't care,'" Todd said.

"Yeah, this has, I think, been a winning issue for him this week," Continetti said, to Todd's surprise.

"Winning? Wait, that's a—winning?" Todd asked.

"When you have an 81 percent approval rating among Republicans, when trust in the media is at a low," Continetti said, "the idea that anyone's votes will be affected over a three-day controversy over what he might have done with a map or how he might have interpreted an early weather projection of where the hurricane went, is totally, totally wrong."

"The only two things that will affect Donald Trump's re-election are the state of the economy over the next year and the identity of his Democratic opponent."

Daily Beast reporter Betsy Woodruff pushed back, saying the controversy could hurt Trump's image with suburban women.

"One of the biggest sources of concern in the White House when it comes to the president's re-elect [sic] is support, or lack thereof, from suburban women. There's a recent poll that shows only 30 percent of women in the United States want to see Trump get re-elected," she said.

"Do you think for any of them the Sharpie was the breaking point?" Continetti asked.

"I think women see this as of a piece with behavior that doesn't seem designed to court them," she replied.

Todd also asked whether the controversy would affect Trump's ability to go after potential rival Joe Biden over Biden's gaffes. Continetti responded that, while independent voters may view Trump's gaffes and Biden's gaffes differently, it would not stop Trump from going after him.

Continetti also ripped the media for focusing so intently on Trump's use of the marker.

"His favorite punching bag is the mainstream media. And it takes two to fixate on an issue, I hate to break it to you," he said. "If the press wanted this issue to go away, they could move on to something else. But it's both Trump and the media that are fixated on this marker, and it's driving me crazy."

When Todd said Trump should be the "grownup," Continetti replied, "Sure," but brought up the fact that Trump's campaign is now selling Trump 2020–branded markers as a way to benefit from the squabble.