The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Outcome of Shutdown Fights Doesn’t Depend on Who Controls the White House, It Depends on Who Controls the Media

In the shutdown fights of the Obama and Clinton years, it was a good rule of thumb that the White House held the whip hand. Congress was too divided to effectively make demands and win a confrontation, while the president could hew to one message and drive it through his bully pulpit. The last few weeks have showed that this isn’t really true. Controlling the White House isn’t as important as controlling the media. Trump obviously hasn’t proven adept at navigating Capitol Hill for all sorts of reasons, but the playing field was tilted against him on this from the start because the media was going to blame him for a shutdown no matter what.


Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: 

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