Press coverage of President Trump and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has often taken the form of a study in contrasts. Kelly is disciplined, orderly, no-nonsense. Trump is impetuous, chaotic, and often nonsensical. Kelly is portrayed not as a Trump enthusiast like policy adviser Stephen Miller, but as a "studiously apolitical" career soldier shouldering the grim duty of taming Trump.
But what if that's not true? This is the proposal of Perry Bacon Jr. in a new analysis today at FiveThirtyEight. "Kelly seems to have deeply-held views, particularly on immigration," Bacon writes, recently suggesting "undocumented immigrants who had not yet signed up for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program were 'lazy.'"
And like Trump, Kelly's first instinct was to defend former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter when he was accused of abuse by his two ex-wives. In these and other ways, Bacon argues, Kelly differs from Trump in style, but in substance he is not "a kind of anti-Trump."
As for how the press "bungled the John Kelly story," Bacon presents five ideas for what went wrong, including insider journalism and insufficient knowledge of Kelly's political views. See Bacon's list here, and read The Week's Matthew Walther for the case that Kelly wasn't always this way.