What’s this seedy affair between Donald Trump and 24 hour news?
Here is a candidate that distances himself from his own party, attacks Senator John McCain’s war record, and once tweeted that “The U.S. cannot allow EBOLA infected people back. People that go to far away places to help out are great – but must suffer the consequences.” So much of Donald Trump is egomaniacal hyperbole that the only revealing thing in this tweet was ‘far away places’. Geography level: Palin?
Despite this the man currently polls way ahead of his Republican rivals. These are only polls, and we are few hundred days from election day, and he is not an establishment pick, but to dismiss the polls outright would be foolish. This is America – where Arnold the terminator and Clint the gunslinger become governors and the actor Ronald Reagan once sat in the oval office. It’s important to take Trump seriously and understand what’s propelling him.
Money is important in America. It is the thermometer by which success is measured, and the only thing hotter than Trump’s cheque book is his irresistible hair. He is capitalism on legs. Of less importance but more interest are his policies. Surprisingly, they might actually fit under a wide umbrella. On immigration, he promises to build a big wall and get Mexico to pay for it; the type of bombastic scheme that gets hearts pumping to the song – “America, Fuck Yeah”. But he has also hinted, if someone of his subtly can ever ‘hint’, that he would tax the rich more, would favour progressive taxation, and would relieve corporation tax.
He’s capable of playing to his own tune. As he likes to remind people, he is not a politician, he cannot be bought, he has himself lined the pockets of many of his rivals, and will consider running as an independent. He treats Washington with open contempt – but not because Big Bird is too big, but because it isn’t run as a business. He promises real change. As he so cleverly didn’t, but actually did, say about Obama, “I would say he’s incompetent but don’t want to do that because that’s not nice”.
He has a habit of backtracking like this. Remember his take on Mexicans: “they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume are good people.” He throws in the last line free of charge as a reasonable counterweight. While these verses have neither style nor polish, they are crude enough to be memorable when coupled with his personality and character. It is the combination that defines his success. His loud provoking mouth knows exactly what it’s doing when it says, “If Clinton cannot even satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America”. To be fair to him – that’s a pretty funny line.
But without the media, the Donald Trump blow-up doll would quickly deflate. He is perfect material for the 24 Hour News – a creation that sustains itself on breaking news no matter the quality. In this scenario, Donald Trump is on the menu forever. Without television, Donald would of course continue to toot his own trumpet. People will always be interested in a nominee who once cameoed in the romantic-crime-comedy-fantasy film ‘Ghost’s Can’t Do It’ and is the host of ‘The Apprentice’. His character is perfect for the online world, if only it would stay there. The online world is an active experience. You need to go looking for Mr. Trump – you at the very least choose to click on him. The problem with television is that it’s a passive experience. When you turn on the TV someone else decides for you what the most important thing is. Nevermind what global crises might be unfurling, all Donald has to do is say “bing bing, bong bong”, and the 24 hour cycle has something new to bite on. Between the 14th June and 12th July 2015, according to the Television News Archive, Trump received 42.8% of all candidate mentions – more then double that of his nearest rival Jeb Bush.
The media loves getting into bed with Trump and riding on one of his towers. It’s the kind of sweaty love affair that gets Trump’s divorce lawyers licking their lips once more.