President-elect Donald Trump gave the American people an update on his transition to the presidency in a brief YouTube video Monday, circumnavigating the press to take his unfiltered message directly to the citizens.
In the two-and-a-half-minute spot, Mr. Trump said that his transition team is “is working very smoothly, efficiently, and effectively” and detailed his plans for his first 100 days. Those involve revamping policies on trade, energy, national security, regulation, immigration, and “draining the swamp” of establishment politicians in Washington, D.C.
“My agenda will be based on a simple core principle: putting America first,” he said.
The decision to sidestep the press is one that’s become increasingly available for politicians as social media provides unfettered access between the people and those in power. As a political candidate who expressed extreme distrust and dislike for the media, Trump has rallied against what he sees as dishonest and unfair depictions of his character and policy plans by major news outlets. The result has been a less transparent transition thus far than under President Obama or former President George W. Bush.
Tension between Trump and various media personnel continued this week as he met with major news executives and anchors and criticized their coverage of him during the election. He then cancelled a meeting with The New York Times Tuesday morning, saying that the paper tried to change the conditions of the meeting at the last minute, only to announce a little later that the meeting was rescheduled for later in the day.
Trump’s direct outreach to Americans could be the start of a newer trend, harnessing the power of social media to package a specific message without media interference.
“He’s just doing more of what President Obama successfully did, and what I’m fascinated about is, what does this mean for the future?” Ari Fleischer, who served as Mr. Bush’s press secretary, told the Times.
In the video, Trump vowed to take steps to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, focusing instead on negotiating trade deals that will bring jobs back to the nation. His plans also include reducing restrictions on clean coal and shale energy, instating a comprehensive cyber security plan, imposing a five-year ban on members of Congress becoming lobbyists, and working with security and intelligence officials to protect Americans from cyberattacks.
The message shied away from some of Trump’s more controversial campaign promises and sharp rhetoric, showing him as a subdued and on-message politician – a persona that paled in comparison to the brazen rhetoric that made him a popular, and controversial, outsider candidate on the campaign trail.
While Trump did give an update on his immigration plan, he avoided any talk of building a border wall between the US and Mexico or initiating a mass roundup of illegal immigrants to deport. Instead, he said he would dispatch the Labor Department to investigate visa abuses.
The video, which is likely the first of several directed messages, also depicted Trump as a more inclusive president-elect, intent on drawing his opponents into the fold of his view for America.
“I will provide more updates in the coming days as we work together to make America great again for everyone,” he said. “And I mean everyone.”