Sunday, March 06, 2016

How the American Media Enabled the Rise of Donald Trump

Anyone who has watched the American media's coverage of the race to the White House knows that it is grossly unbalanced.

And that Donald Trump gets more coverage, and free publicity, than any of his Republican or Democratic opponents.

But that's not the only way the media has favoured Trump.

In a larger sense it has also helped fuel the meteoric rise of that dangerous demagogue by first destroying politics. 

To enable Trump, what the media did is fulfill what almost seemed to be a longtime mission: to create the first “pseudo-campaign” with the first “pseudo-candidate.” And now they are having buyer’s remorse.

For while its coverage is outrageously unbalanced.

According to the Lexis-Nexis tracker, which follows the coverage for each candidate on the web, Trump laps the field. This past Thursday, he was the subject of 52,683 articles. Bernie Sanders was next at 4,400. 

In a measure of what LexisNexis calls “voice,” which tallies both web mentions and mentions on social media like Twitter, Trump received 84 percent of the Republicans’ share.

And its motives couldn't be crasser.

CBS head Les Moonves gave away the game earlier this week when he admitted, “It may not be good for America,” meaning the Trump-dominated campaign, “but it is damn good for CBS,” meaning the ratings. And then he kept doubling down: 

“The money’s rolling in and this is fun.” “I’ve never seen anything like this, and this is going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going.”

Its greatest crime against democracy has been turning the Republican leadership race into a pseudo campaign or reality TV show, with Trump as its pseudo-candidate and starring celebrity...

Donald Trump was born for this. If he is the heir to our first pseudo-campaign, he is also our first pseudo-candidate because he is, in Boorstin’s terms, a celebrity who stands for little besides his celebrity, which doesn’t mean that he isn’t potent. He is.

It just means that he is not held to the standards to which politicians have been traditionally held, not because, as Rubio would have it, the media benefit financially from the drama that surrounds him, though clearly they do, but because they treat him like a celebrity and not a real political candidate.

Who although he is a bigot, a blowhard, and a compulsive liar.

Has been given an easy time by the media just because he is a "celebrity."

The same ones who now claim to feel sorry for what they have done. 

The media may say they regret it, but they did this. They systematically destroyed our politics in the name of entertainment. They systematically conditioned us to anticipate a show. And, frankly, they will keep on doing it. In fact, Moonves seems to indicate that he would fire anyone who didn’t.

Even if they're really not.

The good news is that if or when Trump becomes the Republican nominee, and faces off against his  Democratic opponent in the real election campaign, the media will be forced to be more balanced.

But in the meantime we'll be lucky for a brief glimpse of this campaign...

The one with a real candidate, and a real agenda for change.

And be forced to give thanks for small truths like this one...

And of course hope that there are many more.

For when politics becomes a reality show, the truth is the first casualty.

And democracy doesn't stand a chance...

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  1. Replies
    1. hi lagatta...I'm glad you liked it, I did too. I don't watch SNL much anymore, because I don't find it that funny. But occasionally they can hit one out of the park...

  2. Simon, funnier still, I had a dream about meeting Bernie in Vermont, along with friends from the Eastern Townships (between here and Burlington). One of my friends, a veterinarian (this is true) was asking what he intended to do to improve animal welfare...

    1. hi that's funny too. And yes, everybody wants Bernie to solve all the problems in the world. But I'm sure it was a nice dream because Bernie is a really nice guy. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this, but I once met him while slurping an ice cream cone outside the original Ben and Jerry's in Burlington. And while I was young and stupid, I did ask him what it was like to be a socialist in America...

  3. Anonymous9:29 PM

    In the prehistoric days before the instant flow of "information" I always referred to Peter E Newman as the final word on US politics.A quick search reveals my journalistic hero has Trump as Number One in Mad Mags ranking of the Dumbest People, Events and Things for 2015.

    1. hi RT....I'm glad to know that some people at least weren't fooled by that blowhard billionaire. He was always a cheap hustler, and I still can't believe that he could be the President of the United States. It's absolutely mind-blowing. However, the good news is that even if he is the Republican nominee, I'm pretty sure that the Democrats could nominate their mule mascot, and still beat him....