MEDIA MEA MAXIMA CULPA TRUMPA
I had the good fortune to hear DJT’s victory speech in South Carolina Saturday night. That was the one in which he repeated how great he was and how he would make America great again. As is his custom, he only gave the first declarative sentences in the planks. He never does second sentences where he might explain how he will get first sentences done. And who knows, maybe he will?
As I was saying, the speech was immense. No, the word I’m searching for is HUGE.
While he was at it, he thanked seemingly everybody, except Ivanka’s obstetrician.
The one group omitted was the media, without whom none of this would have been possible.
I felt hurt, slighted. So tactless. After all we of the media had done for him since entering the race in June. The ingrate! No curtain calls. Throw us some of the flowers, willya. President Trump could not have been elected without us.
We the pundits, the “geniuses” as he calls us, the experts, the double domes in our Ivory Towers (not leased by Trump) for months have been pointing out his flaws. We have been exposing all his lies about how great a business tycoon he is, despite his four bankruptcies; how smart he is having gone to Wharton, which he waves around like some Shroud of Turin, as H. L. Mencken put it, where he may have taken two courses, one of which was how to read the bankruptcy laws! The more we said he was the man who almost singlehandedly took Atlantic City down, a mountebank selling the nation a bill of goods, the man we pointed out is the emperor who has no clothes—the relatively under-educated segment of the population considered that good nudes.
Without us attacking him, spreading what Trump called “lies,” DJT would have been just another one of the seven or 17 dwarfs, led by Snow White (Carly) slouching their way to the highest office in the land.
Even higher praise than Pulitzers or DuPont Awards should go to the cable news networks that have been covering Trump like the morning dew.
Like the alchemists of yore discovered the secret of how to turn dross into gold, Trump has discovered how to get on TV without super PACS spending megamillions on commercials interrupting the news.
Here is how the Trumpian formula works:
- Say something outrageous. It could be the something that came to mind while sitting in the barber chair looking at himself in the mirror as his campaign staff hairdressers work for two hours every morning preparing him for the stump. Or it could be having an epiphany, as he feeds morsels from the mother to the baby birds in his nest.
- The news shows that Trump claimed were ignoring the Pied Piper of Trump Towers and his amazing huge following of rats would then repeat the outrageous notions (building a wall to keep out millions of Muslims) or snarky put downs of rivals that hurt (Bush low energy).
- The Trumpian Moments would be chewed over by the news show panels for a day or two, or until Trump emoted something outrageous again. The man has a consummate showman’s understanding when a performance drags. As if on cue, he would throw some red meat to the animals.
The most creative wrinkle in the annals of news judgment by the media that is out to get him is the decision by cable network news executives just not to run clips of the Trumpian Moment, but to cover Trump rallies in their entirety. The thinking may have been that you never knew when he would say something newsworthy.
That was HUGE. Not only did it give Trump all that free airtime, it sucked the oxygen out of the news environment for the other 16 candidates. No wonder Pataki, Perry, Jindahl, even Scott Walker were D.O.A.
The irony in all of this is that Trump would be continually using his free airtime to attack the news geniuses, who were not being nice to him, or unfair, by not showing the folks at home just how HUGE his campaign was getting. They loved us in Alabama —20,000! They loved us in Punxsutawney, Pa.— 17,000, whatever. They are lying to you folks at home.
And all the while he is condemning news censorship—chorus of boos whenever the hated word “media“ is herd— the lying network cameras are panning the room from wall to wall.
Our other major contribution to the history of presidential campaigning has been the business of lying. Lying, of course, is as American as apple pie and vanilla ice cream. What would a campaign be without the traditional campaign promise? Never before, however, has the quaint custom of fact checking been turned into a sin. Any attempt by the media to present the real facts, or even the true facts, is seen as a distraction, an attempt by the media to get them. And the folks at home have bought the canard.
As I say, allowing all of this to happen is HUGE. We have been the patsies in the campaign, the saps. We have let them moida us bums, as we say in New Jersey.
And before I say it’s sunrise in America all over again, let us not forget how the media has managed to turn so- called debates, which are food fights when we are at the brink of World War III into a matter of just who won and lost. Not to mention the way our news coverage focuses completely on whose ahead in the polls, as if this was a horse race.
It’s time we woke up and smelled the horseshit.
Feb. 22, 2016