“An outrage, a scandal, this is urgent, breaking news!”
How many times do you think those words have been uttered in newsrooms across the world since President Trump assumed office on January 20th? I’m willing to bet it is more times than I’ve had hot dinners. And I suspect that’s exactly what POTUS wants.
When Fox News anchors declare — trying ever so hard, bless them, not to be visible in their sneering — that 71 per cent of Americans think the President’s tweets are hurting his agenda, I suspect they are using the same pollsters who repeatedly convinced the world the man would lose on November 8th.
Don’t just take my word for it. The Five-Thirty-Eight website run by Nate Silver shows Fox’s pollsters tend to get only about 65 per cent of election calls correct.
They polled 1,000 people and then did the statistical voodoo to project outwards. Nevertheless, I suspect rather than this being truly representative of how the American public feel on this issue, Fox News is trying to impact public opinion rather than reflect it.
POLL: Do you think @realDonaldTrump's tweets are a GOOD thing or a BAD thing? Vote now!
— Raheem Kassam (@RaheemKassam) July 2, 2017
This is the media failing to learn any lessons at all over the past few years.
These people were convinced Trump could never be President. Then he won. They were convinced he wouldn’t last six months. They were sure the Russia narrative would have him impeached by now.
Well so far they’re zero-in-three. Truly, they’re about zero-in-ten thousand since January 20th but I’m letting them off easy.
Now President Trump has them by the short and curlies, throwing them around at will, dominating the news cycles.
Let’s think about it for a second.
It takes days if not weeks of planning for some television or radio shows to be aired. There are armies of producers, runners, assistants, bookers, researchers, journalists, cameramen, executives and more who spend so much time and effort getting this just right for tomorrow’s or next week’s edition of INSERT CHEESY NAME OF TELEVISION SHOW HERE AT 10AM WITH CHIP MCDONNELLSON.
And with fewer than 140 characters, President Trump can force all of this work and effort into journalistic purgatory. Into limbo.
“Hold that, cancel the guests, we’re going to pivot for the next 36 hours to this meme the President tweeted. Someone get me Ana Navarro to express outrage!”
It is becoming apparent the President can distract the media with shiny things, and they all fall for it: “Ooooh, shiny!”
It’s what Republicans have been lacking for so long. This intentional manipulation of the nation’s — if not the world’s — media while policy wins continue to stack up in the background. Supreme Court nominations, travel bans, Kate’s law. It’s all happening.
The media will go to Americans in three years and say, “Remember what this guy tweeted 40 months ago?”
The President and his team will reply: “Hey look at the jobs, the trade, the international affairs, and all these policy achievements we made even in the face of a hysterical press!”
Who do you think will have the more compelling argument?
Mr. Trump himself lived on Page Six news.
He understands the commodity of gossip and outrage and scandal. What’s more is he understands how the media has become the very thing it was hoping to make the public into in order to boost viewership.
There’s a reason BREAKING NEWS is on the chyrons of all news outlets, all the time. They have wanted to instill a sense of urgency and panic that keeps you glued to the television. Recently they’ve taken to putting countdown clocks in the bottom right corner, often advertising something totally inane that needs no countdown at all.
“JUST 23 HOURS, 16 MINUTES, AND 12 SECONDS UNTIL LINDSAY GRAHAM SAYS SOMETHING UTTERLY PREDICTABLE! DON’T MISS IT!”
President Trump knows what motivates these people is the same hysteria and outrage they began manufacturing decades ago. They don’t read bills, they don’t even read books anymore. They are, as they wanted their audiences to be, motivated by a childlike fear.
Take, as a final example, this quote from the Art of the Deal by Donald Trump in 1987, when I was just a one-year-old:
“Even though the publicity was almost entirely negative, there was a great deal of it, and that drew a tremendous amount of attention to Trump Tower. Almost immediately we saw an upsurge in the sales of apartments. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, and in truth it probably says something perverse about the culture we live in. But I’m a businessman, and I learned a lesson from that experience: good publicity is preferable to bad, but from a bottom-line perspective, bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity at all. Controversy, in short, sells.”
The ingenious thing about all of this of course is he basically can’t lose.
If the media fails to report on his tweets, he has an unchallenged platform to address over 32 million people. If on the other hand they take the bait, he continues to maintain a smokescreen while conservative policies get implemented.
Raheem Kassam is the Editor in Chief of Breitbart London and the author of the forthcoming book ‘No Go Zones: How Sharia is Coming to a Neighborhood Near You’. Sign up for book updates here, and follow Raheem on Facebook and Twitter.