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Top of the Ticket Political commentary from David Horsey

From cable TV to cattlemen’s websites, flood of Trump news swamps the media

Here is the latest news from the “Stock Exchange,” a website you’ve probably never seen that tracks news of interest to cattlemen and ranchers: Tracy Brunner, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn. is worried that the Trump administration’s protectionist trade policies are going to be a disaster for his industry.

“Sparking a trade war with Canada, Mexico, and Asia will only lead to higher prices for American-produced beef in those markets and put our American producers at a much steeper competitive disadvantage,” Brunner said in a news release. “The fact remains that 96 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States, and expanding access to those consumers is the single best thing we can do to help American cattle-producing families be more successful.”

Now, there are a couple of interesting observations to make about this bit of news.

The first that comes to mind is the irony of all those ranchers and cowboys and small-town Westerners who decided to take a chance with Donald Trump and now face the possibility that their livelihoods will be wrecked by the new president’s naive, rant-driven policies.

The second is that even in an obscure, remote perch of the media world, Trump cannot be escaped. Trump-centered news is everywhere, all the time, with no pause.

Trump announces travel restrictions aimed at Muslims from seven different countries. His poorly conceived action creates chaos at the nation’s major airports and inspires thousands to turn out in protest.

Trump fires the acting attorney general after she says she cannot defend his Muslim ban because it violates the Constitution.

Trump nominates a staunch conservative to the Supreme Court and political war ensues on Capitol Hill, where Democrats and Republicans are already at each other’s throats over several controversial picks for Trump’s Cabinet.

Trump incites a telephone spat with the prime minister of the nation’s most reliable ally, Australia, and hangs up on him.

Trump calls up the president of Mexico and, reportedly, threatens to send the U.S. military across the border to deal with “bad hombres.” The White House says it was just a joke.

Trump stands at the arrival of the casket bearing the body of a fallen Navy SEAL and makes news because his daughter is at his side rather than the first lady, who has been staying away from Washington.

Trump revives plans for two oil pipelines blocked by the Obama administration and reignites protests on the Standing Rock reservation.

Trump removes the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and director of national intelligence from their permanent seats on the National Security Council and installs his bomb-throwing political guru, Stephen Bannon, on the NSC.

This is just the shortlist of stories from the last few days and doesn’t include early-morning tweets, sudden settlements of old lawsuits, constant fights with the media, wild statements from Trump surrogates or the latest valentine for Vladimir Putin (such as Thursday’s relaxing of sanctions against Russia). Trump news comes so fast and thick, it is easy to forget the controversies of even last week, like the argument over the size of the inauguration crowd.

These days, cable TV news is nothing but talking heads talking about Trump 24/7. Network news shows consist of Trump-related stories and the latest bad weather. Newspapers are filled with Trump, much like newspapers in the 1940s were dominated by coverage of World War II.

Arguably, all the attention is justified because the country appears to be in a new war — a battle for the soul of America. But how long can we sustain this? Will we fail to give attention to serious news developments — like a bad trade policy that harms American ranchers — because we are drowning in a stream of provocative tweets?  Will there be Trump news fatigue? Will people start to tune it out? Or, like a real war, will patriotism and fear for the future keep us engaged?

It is easy to be daunted by the prospect of this fireball of Trump news rolling on, day after day, for four years or more. A good citizen, though, dares not look away.

David.Horsey@latimes.com

Follow me at @davidhorsey on Twitter

 

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