Shiny Object Syndrome: How the Media's Incessant Need for Ratings Plays Right into the Hands of Donald Trump
Donald Trump's chief strategist favorably compared himself to Satan.
You don't remember that, do you? That's because over the last month, Donald Trump has said and done so many outrageous things that news stories which would have previously been headline news for days have been usurped by something equally outrageous, often times within the very same day.
Take Tuesday for example. Trump once again lied through his teeth Monday on Twitter by tweeting that Boeing was scheduled to receive a contract worth $4 billion for the cost of a new Air Force One plane. Naturally, this number was pulled out of Trump's ass as the Defense Department came forward and said it had budgeted $1.65 billion for two Air Force One planes while Boeing themselves released a statement revealing its current contract was worth only $170 million. For those keeping score at home, our great businessman was only $3,830,000,000 off from his original assessment. But addition to this slight rounding error, Trump also came under fire for potential motives for targeting Boeing such as the fact that the company's CEO Dennis Muilenberg had recently given an interview in favor of fair trade, something that Trump spoke out against on the campaign trail. What better way to strongarm a defense contractor than simple economic terrorism, causing shareholders to lose $550 million at the drop of a hat?
So as these questions began to prop up about Trump's true motives for the Tweet, what does he do? Why, he holds an impromptu interview at Trump Tower on Tuesday, announcing that Japanese company SoftBank had just agreed to invest $50 billion into the United States with the intent of creating 50,000 new jobs. Now, the details of this yuge deal have yet to materialize, but that hasn't prevented our friends over at CNN from making this the top headline at this hour. As the network scrambles to bring in technology experts and others about what the deal might potentially mean for American jobs and businesses, Donald Trump has once again shifted the media narrative from questioning his means and motives to instead praising him for his great business savvy. By this time tomorrow, nobody will even remember what happened with Boeing on Monday and Trump's economic act of terror will be long forgotten.
Because Trump knows exactly how reality TV works.
And that is what our media has become. Reality TV. Just look at how the major networks have been covering Trump's Secretary of State appointment. Candidate's aren't going to Trump Tower for an interview, they're going there for an "audition." Now, I wasn't as politically involved in 2008, but I'm pretty sure the dinner menu for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton wasn't a key topic of conversation for the networks at that point in time. But now? Apparently knowing that Willard and Donald snacked on frog legs is must-have information.
Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels once said, "Not every item of news should be published. Rather must those who control news policies endeavor to make every item of news serve a certain purpose." Donald Trump knows this. After all, not only did he keep a volume of Hitler's speeches by his bedside but he also knows about reality TV firsthand. He knows what gets the ratings and he knows how to control the news cycle. Receiving positive coverage? Keep quiet for a couple days. Receiving negative coverage? Hype up a recent accomplishment and claim a great victory without giving away specifics. Doing something controversial? Do something else controversial the next day. Then the next day. And the next day. Keep doing controversial things until it becomes the new normal. That way, you can add Ben Carson, a grossly unqualified candidate, to your Cabinet, and all people will say is, "Well, at least he's a nicer guy than someone like Steve Bannon."
None of what Donald Trump is doing is normal. Appointing a White supremacist as your chief strategist is not normal. Overtly lying about a company's government contract because you disagree with their CEO is not normal. Appointing a neurosurgeon with zero government experience as head of Housing and Urban Development is not normal. These actions are not only unprecedented but they're unquestionably dangerous to our democracy. But rather than focus on this clear and present danger to our republic, our media would much rather drift from topic to topic rather than synthesizing the bigger picture of what the Trump Administration would ultimately look like. By ignoring this, our media is normalizing a man who is nowhere near normal.
And is putting the future of our country at risk by doing so.
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