Sunday, February 28, 2016

The king of free media

i) Some pundits who are otherwise quite critical of Trump nevertheless pay tribute to his media savvy. They say he's "brilliant" at handling the media. Has a "genius" for that sort of thing. The compliment usually goes something like this: Trump has a genius for sucking all the oxygen out of the room. Even when other candidates do well, that's a one-day story because Trump always manages to redirect attention back into himself. His political competitors can never get a foothold because Trump is forever able to make himself the center of attention. A "master" at manipulating the media...and so on and so forth.

ii) I find it striking that socially sophisticated commentators are that undiscerning. Now, it's undeniably true that Trump is a successful publicity hound. A tireless self-promoter. And a natural in front of the camera–in a trash talk show sort of way.

However, there's nothing "brilliant" about that. It doesn't take a "genius" to do that. 

There's a simple dynamic at work: getting attention makes you famous and fame gets you attention. It can work in either direction. On the one hand, the media creates notoriety; on the other hand, notoriety attracts the media. So it feeds on itself. He's good for ratings and ratings are good for him. 

Brilliance has nothing to do with it. Rather, that's the natural symbiosis between media and celebrity. A mutually self-serving arrangement. Trump is the John to the media whore. 

iii) This is reinforced by the fact that Trump their kind of guy. A tabloid character. Many journalists hype him because they are every bit as decadent as he is. In Trump, members of the gutter press have found a soul mate.

iv) Finally, the Trump Organization is hardly a one-man operation. Donald Trump has had a bevy of consultants over the years. He's hired intellectual talent. So even when he seems to have a bright idea, did he think of that all by himself, or is he channeling some uncredited consultant? 

1 comment:

  1. It's also striking that someone who's so rich and has an army of media personnel at his command uses a free medium (Twitter) to communicate most of his messages.