Glenn Thrush, NYT's Newest 'Hack' for Democrats, Lectures Trump on 'Intimidation and Bluster'

January 7th, 2017 8:15 PM

Journalist Glenn Thrush, who recently took his Democratic partisanship from Politico to the New York Times, filed “Trump Finds That Attack-Dog Strategy Has Its Limits” for Saturday’s New York edition. The news media was not at all happy with Donald Trump Twitter mockery of liberal Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, and Thrush piled on Trump.

Thrush is a self-described “hack” for the failed Clinton campaign, as shown by the trove of emails from the WikiLeaks project, including one to campaign chairman John Podesta inviting him to fact-check a story before publication. He also has a history of sensitivity to insults to Democrats -- don’t dare call (failed) Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis “abortion Barbie”! -- which may help explain the self-satisfied tone here, lecturing Trump on how to respond to accusations of Russian meddling and how to treat his Democratic opponents.

As a political underdog and now as president-elect, Donald J. Trump has employed the same brutal but effective go-to move when he’s tweeted or talked himself into an impasse:

Attack the attacker.

That aggressiveness served him well in the presidential campaign, and allowed him to muscle through scandals and self-inflicted management mistakes that would have scuttled a lesser politician. But Mr. Trump’s postelection effort to minimize intelligence assessments about Russia’s actions came to an abrupt end Friday after a detailed classified briefing from the nation’s top intelligence officials at Trump Tower and the release of an unclassified report concluding that the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, had a “clear preference” for Mr. Trump.

By the end of the day, it was clear that the strategy of intimidation and bluster that served Mr. Trump so well in the presidential campaign would not prove nearly as effective in Washington. Here was a reminder, should Mr. Trump heed it, that a president’s critics, especially the lords of Washington’s national security establishment, can’t always be cowed by a flash-grenade tweet or a withering quip about the possibility that a “400-lb. hacker” might have breached Democratic servers.


Senator Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat who has a good working relationship with Mr. Trump, warned him recently that it was “really dumb” to take on the intelligence services. He followed up with a warning on Wednesday that the president-elect needed “to calm down” his Twitter usage.


In the weeks leading up to the release of the report, the president-elect repeatedly cast doubt on an emerging consensus among intelligence officials, outside analysts and legislators from both parties that Mr. Putin had attempted to interfere with the election. As recently as Tuesday, Mr. Trump mused on Twitter that his classified briefing may have been postponed to cook the results. “The ‘Intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!”


By Friday morning, he was still defiant, but there was a substantial, if subtle, shift in tone, reflecting Mr. Trump’s penchant for masking a change in tune by keeping the volume at full blast. He began pushing blame from the national security establishment to a pair of his favorite political chew toys -- Democrats and the news media.

There was some Strange New Respect in display for Republican Sen. John McCain, whom the paper reviled during his 2008 campaign against Barack Obama.

“McCain just got elected to a new six-year-term,” said Mr. Weaver, a longtime adviser of McCain. “He’s not going to let anyone attack people who protect the country’s interests, and he’s got nothing to lose.”