It’s time to Break It Down!
Mercifully, we are in the “Final Days” of the 2016 Presidential Election. As of this morning, 13 days remain before D-Day, November 8th. That is not a lot of time in the grand scheme of things. However, in an election pairing what are arguably the two most unpopular candidates in the history of Presidential Elections, and two campaigns largely framed around efforts to expose and leverage their opponents’ “un-favorability,” there is always a chance that the next new thing will be the last straw…the one that breaks the proverbial camel’s back.
For Mr. Trump, the Theme-of-the-Week, this week, apparently is, the media is displacing, or at least challenging Mrs. Clinton for the title of the most crooked thing going. They (the media) are central players (according to Trump) in rigging the election for Clinton. Mr. Trump has ramped up attacks on the media. He asserted that Saturday Night Live (SNL) skits that lampooned him were evidence of media rigging of the election. He made this argument despite the obvious fact the comedy also satirizes Hillary Clinton. Reflection and balance are not his strengths.
As you may know, Mr. Trump is no stranger to the media. According to a March 16 story in CNN Money, Mr. Trump earned nearly $2 billion worth of free media attention up to that stage of the primaries. No one should have to tell you that is a lot of free media. How much? To put it in context, it exceeded the total value of all of his GOP competitors combined. These findings were part of a study conducted by The New York Times using mediaQuant and SMG Delta data. The study also found that Mr. Trump accrued:
- More than six times as much free coverage as his closest competitor, Ted Cruz
- More than two-and-a-half times as much free coverage as Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side
Suffice it to say the study proffered evidence that the American news media has given preponderantly more coverage to Trump than to any other candidate who sought the Presidency during the Campaign 2016 cycle. In light of findings related to this story, it is interesting, to say the least, that Mr. Trump’s heretofore shield of invincibility and/or his status as a media darling had been punctured or otherwise compromised by the very entity many reasonable observers would infer propelled him from a mere guy in the pack to frontrunner status during the primaries, and ultimately, to the GOP Nomination.
Now if you are for Donald Trump, you may argue (And I would expect you to do so) that not all of the attention Mr. Trump garnered in the media is positive. Wow, Sherlock, that’s just plain brilliant. But hold up; wait a minute. Before you go getting carried away, to paraphrase Samuel L. Jackson in the Capital One commercial, “Don’t let that go to your head Gary.” As a rejoinder, that is true…but pointless. Or at least it is inconsequential in the framework of a head-to-head comparison.
Why, you may ask? It is pointless or inconsequential because no candidate is guaranteed that all coverage will be positive. Reporters are constantly looking for angles to explore and different aspects to present regarding candidates and their stories. Mrs. Clinton’s coverage was not encased on a crystal stair either. She’s had to navigate an early Black Lives Matter (BLM) SNAFU, the super predator comment, the email imbroglio, the Iraq War vote, and currently, the Affordable Care Act premium increase, among others. When one lives in the fish bowl that is the public sphere, in which all politicians reside, most especially major Party Presidential Nominees, it behooves one to recognize the primacy of the inimitable law of gravity…”What goes up must come down.”
And so it is. Last Thursday, Trump made a comment some considered eye opening, others provocative, and still others, simply affirming. During Wednesday’s Final Presidential Debate of the 2016 Election Season, Mr. Trump declined to answer a direct question from Debate Moderator Chris Wallace regarding whether he would concede, were he to attract fewer votes than Mrs. Clinton (again, note, just as last week, I did not say lose). At a rally Thursday, he said he would absolutely respect the election results…if he wins.
There is an obvious trend afoot. When things are good…they are r-e-a-l-l-y good. When the media is kind to Mr. Trump, when the polls say he is ahead, and when he won primaries, the system was not rigged, the polls were great (and he reveled in them at every rally), and the media was his trusty sidekick and adoring mouthpiece. Right now, things are no so good. Mr. Trump has encountered a few headwinds from the previously docile and compliant media. His alleged sexual assault accusers get lots of air play, ad he lags in most reputable polls. Oh my, what is an entrepreneur to do?
Well, if that entrepreneur is Donald Trump, the answer is simple. Innovate! Create your own media enterprise. Monday, with 15 days left until Election Day, Team Trump broadcast its first “nightly campaign coverage from Trump Tower, and Trump TV was born, in a manner of speaking. The virgin episode lasted 38 minutes, and presaged shows that will air each night until the election. It featured several of his surrogates covering political news of the day, one presumes unrigged, from a Trump perspective, and led up to a Trump Rally in Tampa.
There is understandably a level of speculation about what all this means. Nascent possibilities abound, including the questions, is it:
- Trump’s reaction to a “rigged media”
- Queuing up his post “Apprentice” TV presence,
- A gambit to spur fleeting sizzle associated with the Trump brand as his Presidential Campaign falters, by most accounts
- All of the above
Of course, I do not know Donald Trump. I must note, he has suggested he is not interested in actualizing a full-scale Trump TV endeavor. That is what he has said, anyway. However, CNN Money reported in a story from Monday of last week that his son-in-law may have provided a tell regarding the potential imminence of Trump TV:
“Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has informally approached one of the media industry’s top dealmakers about the prospect of setting up a Trump television network after the presidential election in November,” the Financial Times reported Monday
I am not close to any of his surrogates either. I do know people who support him, and let me be clear, the ones I know, I like. They (the ones I know) all have other opinions, many of which I agree with. Each of the above possibilities has some level of merit. But lest I leave anyone with the impression that the actual answer matters (to me), it does not. The questions were rhetorical…but the point was not. For me, that point is completely encapsulated in the title of this post…”If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em: Trump TV Debuts!”
I’m done; holla back!
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