Sherwood's Notebook: Noise, Lots of Noise!

The marchers last Saturday made lots of noise.

The new Trump administration tried first to ignore it and then to belittle it.

The noise from the Women's March may well be the rallying cry Democrats need to start clawing their way back to relevancy -- not just nationally but in city, county and state houses around the nation where Republicans are in control in overwhelming numbers. Otherwise, it's just noise.

■ Media noise. We are just at the beginning of what we might call The War Between the Stakes. The Trump administration, just like during the campaign, is staking out a position challenging the media's most basic reporting and assumptions about how a president or his administration should behave.

From last Saturday's stunning misrepresentation of crowd size to Monday's more friendly press briefing, the new Trump White House seems intent on presenting itself through "alternative facts."

For many months during the campaign last year there were endless stories about how Trump needed to "pivot" to being more presidential. You can stop waiting for that. He is who he is. The media is in for a battle over every story with this new administration that, as White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said, would present "alternative facts" to the public. Much of the media pushed back, saying "alternative" facts were falsehoods.

The Trump team should be careful it doesn’t wind up in an untenable alternate universe.

The public in general has no general love of the media, but the public is not easily fooled for long. The Trump administration, starting out with low approval numbers, should be aware of a general erosion of support that occurs as daily life and decisions chip away at the grand promises of any administration.

■ Protesters and prosecutors' noise. Maybe it's just to scare them, but D.C.'s U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips is not fooling around.

Prosecutors filed felony rioting charges against 230 people who were arrested on Inauguration Day for violent incidents in a four-block area near the White House. Felony rioting is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

It's unlikely the maximum sentence will be meted out -- but the charges themselves were a true indication that law enforcement was prepared for the small number of violent protesters. Of course, the news media had a field day with the violence, but the overwhelming numbers of protesters were content to yell and scream at Trump as he rode by. And by the way, there were no arrests during the Women's March.

■ Metro and March for Life noise. Up next is Saturday's anti-abortion March for Life. It will be a large crowd, as it has been nearly every year since the first one in 1974 to protest the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade.

Metro has announced it will extend operating hours as it did for the Women's March. Some conservative groups are wondering, in light of coverage this past Saturday, whether the mainstream media will give the March for Life more than the glancing attention it usually receives.

Kellyanne Conway is slated to speak at the rally. March organizers say she is the highest-ranking White House official ever to speak in person at the march. President Ronald Reagan and later President George W. Bush in 2006 both addressed the rally by telephone. Among the other government speakers announced for Saturday are: Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah; and Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J.

■ A final word. We're disappointed to report that NewsChannel 8 has killed the long-running "NewsTalk" program hosted by our friend Bruce DePuyt. For 14 years DePuyt has questioned, challenged and highlighted political people and issues affecting the entire region.

Those of us in the media and public policy world will gather Thursday evening, Feb. 2, at The Midlands, 3333 Georgia Ave. NW, to salute his career and whatever comes next. Join us if you like.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.

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