There's no clearer pattern in President Trump's first six months in office than him getting the best of the national media when he pursues the agenda he campaigned on and him losing when he does anything else.
Trump on Wednesday backed a bill by Sens. David Perdue, R-Ga., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., that aims to sharply reduce immigration and put a priority on admitting foreigners who know English and have higher work skills.
During that day's press briefing, White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller won the argument against reporters attempting to find something wrong with a bill that follows the same simple logic as one and one is two; when it rains, the ground gets wet; and if it's written by Dana Milbank, it's annoying.
CNN correspondent Jim Acosta came out of the briefing declaring that Miller "exploded before our eyes" because he "couldn't take that kind of heat."
Here's an example of "that kind of heat":
Acosta: "What the president is proposing here does not sound like it's in keeping with American tradition when it comes to immigration. The Statue of Liberty says…"
We'll stop there to reflect on a reporter citing a poem on a statue to argue whether a new policy is "in keeping with American tradition."
Miller responded that "the history of immigration, it's actually ebbed and flowed," a statement based on the fact that the U.S. hasn't always admitted the same number of immigrants.
In 1970, about 10 million people in the U.S. were foreign-born. A decade later, 4 million had been added. After another decade, an additional 6 million. In 2000, an additional 10 million were added. Those are not consistent numbers.
Gallup published a survey in January showing a majority of Americans, 53 percent, dissatisfied with the level of immigration into the U.S. The immigration issue was crucial in Trump taking the White House, even as the media failed in halting his campaign by calling it racist.
There is no puzzle. When Trump pushes the things he campaigned on, he wins -- and the media, left incoherent in their response, lose.
His position on the issues is stronger than theirs.
Going through Trump's short time in the White House, the results are always the same.
In his speech last month in Poland, he said the U.S. "will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people" but that "our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism of any kind."
Liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson described the speech as a "thirst for a clash of civilizations" and asked his readers to "imagine Italy without tomato sauce, a gift from the New World."
A better comparison would be to imagine the World Trade Centers still standing, but Robinson fretted over his meatballs.
In June, Trump announced that he was withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate deal, calling it "a massive redistribution of United States wealth to other countries" that "handicaps the United States economy in order to win praise from the very foreign capitals and global activists that have long sought to gain wealth at our country's expense."
A Washington Post poll found that about 60 percent of Americans opposed the withdrawal, but that might have something to do with the poll describing the deal as "the main international agreement that tries to address climate change," as opposed to how it actually functions: A self-imposed reduction in U.S. economic productivity (wealth) accompanied by billions in subsidies sent to less-advanced countries.
Ask people if they would like to "address climate change," most will likely say yes. Ask if they'd like to donate $20 right now to address climate change, the answer will be different. (It gets even more complicated if you ask Al Gore if he'd like to address climate change by no longer heating his pool in the winter.)
If Trump and Republicans want to keep the national media on the defensive, they can pursue the issues he campaigned on and, other than absolutely necessary bathroom breaks, do nothing else.
It's when Trump talks about forgettable cable news people, his victimhood, and his own "very weak" attorney general that the media win.
Eddie Scarry is a media reporter for the Washington Examiner.