Seven days ago, The Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump had disclosed classified information to two top Russian officials in a meeting in Oval Office.
Try to remember every negative story that has come out between then and now.
A partial list: Trump’s Tuesday morning tweets, the James Comey memo, asking Jeff Sessions and Mike Pence to leave the room, the appointment of Robert Mueller as special prosecutor, the “witch hunt” tweet, the Coast Guard commencement speech, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein telling senators he knew Trump was going to fire Comey, “No, No next question,” Trump brags to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak that he fired Comney — who he described as a “nut job” — and — big, deep breath — White House lawyers preparing for impeachment proceedings.
I bet you missed one. Or several.
How? After all, any one of these stories is a HUGE deal in its own right — and could easily dominate news cycle after news cycle, for weeks or even months on end. Plus, all of this news has happened in the last week.
The way I explain it comes, like all good things, from “The Simpsons.”
There’s an episode where ancient tycoon Monty Burns decides to get a physical. A set of tests is run. And the doctor informs Burns he is “the sickest man in the entire United States. You have everything.” And yet, Mr. Burns is healthy. Why? Because all of the diseases in his body are jamming each other up as they try to attack his body.
“We call it ‘Three Stooges Syndrome,'” the doctor tells Mr. Burns.
What happens with Trump is that he is continually flooding the zone with news — whether its his tweets, his public pronouncements or the amazing reporting going on about his administration. There are so many storylines — Russia, Comey, staff drama, his Twitter account, to name a few — that they all sort of blend together in one jumble, even for people who follow this stuff very closely.
Call it “Trump fatigue.” There’s just so much any one person can consume as it relates to the President. And it’s far less than the amount that Trump puts out there on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
There are two basic reactions to Trump fatigue.
The first — and this is common among Trump’s supporters but, increasingly, even among those who aren’t part of his hardcore base — is a belief that all of this stuff can’t be true. That the dishonest media must be making some or all of it up.
The second is to just turn off the TV, close the computer, take your Twitter app off your phone. To unplug from the constant stream of stories that start “Donald Trump said …”
Both of those reactions benefit Trump. With the first, people become convinced that his “fake news” rhetoric is actually true. In the second, people simply stop keeping as close tabs on Trump and his daily machinations.
Is Trump’s relentless news-making a strategy? A way to keep so many balls up in the air that no one can possibly follow each one’s trajectory?
Or is it simply Trump acting, without forethought or consideration of the consequences?
As always with him, it’s very hard to know the answers to those questions. But Trump fatigue is real. And it’s only going to affect more people the longer this President’s pace of actions — and the news and controversy he creates with them — continues.