How Much Should We Blame the News Media for Donald Trump?

There have been a lot of articles about how the media, needing a way to breathe life into this election 12 months ago, hooked itself up to the Trump Train and rode it through every area of chaos it went, cashing their checks whenever it came into the station to refuel. It really wasn’t until they realized that a Trump Presidency was becoming ACTUALLY POSSIBLE, that the media jumped off and then started blowing up the tracks ahead in hopes of derailing it.

But that’s not the question I’m asking now. What I’m curious about is how much we should blame the collective news media for dumbing-down the news so much over the last 10-20 years? Was it only a matter of time before someone like Trump was able to attract the hearts and the simplified minds of “Soundbite America?”

Maybe it’s not their fault. Maybe it’s ours for only being able to absorb 8-10 minutes before needing a commercial break. Maybe we need to be mesmerized with four talking heads each bringing their best two to three minutes of content to a discussion. In this format, no one ever has time to discuss a “How.” It’s only about the “Why” and you usually have a full screen of people with polar opposite opinions fighting to get in the best dig.

But then, I could argue that IS the media’s fault for forcing that format down our eyeballs and earholes. What is the total cost of losing a few viewers to make sure that the people who keep watching get something more thorough than clever quips and cut downs?

I don’t know the answer to that. Broadcasters are owned by public companies so they need as much money as they can get to survive this new media economy that forced them to lose their near oligopoly status. Yes, it is much harder to compete in a bifurcated market than to be one of a handful of outlets covering news. So I understand the need to dumb down the news to make it appeal to more people. But I’m not sure I’m happy with the results.

A Request to the Writers of The Daily Show

Dear Trevor Noah and the rest of The Daily Show writing team,

I have a request for this election season.

Every candidate is busy lining up endorsements from the people they thing will most energize voters. Candidates need endorsements from all the individual politicians, tastemakers and influencers, from President Obama to Jay Inslee to Ed Murray.

But here’s what I would find REALLY interesting. Not who the thought leaders are endorsing. But who the crackpots, weirdos and psychopaths want to see in office. I would learn way more about a candidate by knowing if they are being supported by the craziest of the crazy. After all, candidates can try to hand pick and choreograph the endorsements they get from positive figures. But they’re helpless to defend themselves against endorsements from the “wrong people.”

So Mr. Noah, this is where you come in.

You have the power, the prestige, the connections and the brains to pull together a list of some of the biggest wackos in America AND get them on camera and find out who they are endorsing. You all can dive in and find out why. And as Americans, in some cases we’ll have to reconcile the fact that we support the same candidate as someone we’d never invite over to dinner.

I think the rare combination of ratings winner and public service. Thanks for your consideration.

Your loyal viewer,

Andy

A Theory About Donald Trump

Let’s pretend for a moment, that a man worth several billion dollars, who lords over a global real estate empire and produced a popular TV show for nearly a decade, ISN’T a complete moron. For the sake of argument, let’s also assume this mogul is not certifiably crazy.

With that as context, we have to ask, “Why is Donald Trump saying so many dumb and offensive things in a bid to run for President of the United States?”

Here’s one theory that is probably wrong but fun to think about.

We’re pretty sure the man has no real shot at winning. And we know for a fact that he loves loves loves loves being the center of attention. And he’s never cared what anyone thinks of him.

So suppose he’s creating a new benchmark for the rest of the Republican candidates to be measured against? Trump goes out and makes ridiculous, evil, mean and insulting comments, and both the RNC and group of candidates get to say, “Hey, Trump is way out of bounds. He should really stop saying those mean and insensitive things.”

For as long as I’ve been alive, the Democrats have been positioned as the sweet Uncle and Aunt who want to take care of you, while the Republicans have staked out the ground as your evil older brother trying to trick you out of your allowance.

So maybe the Trump train wreck is a purposeful campaign to change this perception. Republicans get to disagree with Trump and look more sympathetic to a key block of voters, without having to actually change any of policies or agree with Democrats. Trump gets to be on TV every day, and the rest of the Republicans build up positive perception by disagreeing with him. It’s basically a “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” political strategy.

One argument against this idea is that Trump is actually leading the field at 17%, implying the strategy is backfiring. But the other way to look at those stats is that in a crowded field of interchangeable and indiscernible candidates, 83% of people think Trump is to be avoided. In that case, the strategy is working.

Just a thought.

Election Watch – Obama and Texting

I’m starting a new category, covering some interesting tactics the Presidential campaigns are using when it comes to technology or social media marketing.  Here’s the latest email I received from the Obama camp:

People keep asking me if we’re really going to announce Barack’s VP directly to our supporters. 
The answer is yes. 
Let me be very clear. You are the ones who built this campaign, and
Barack wants you to be the first to know who will join him in leading
our movement for change.

So, if you haven’t signed up to receive an email or a text message, sign up now. Or you can text VP to 62262 from your mobile phone. 
Make sure to forward this message to your friends and let them know about this special opportunity.

Thanks,

That’s a pretty neat gimmick.  I don’t know if it means that if you text the campaign, they will call you later to ask for money.  But it’s a neat way to use text messaging to communicate directly to their base.