Trumped-up charges: The Donald and his friend Goliath

The Donald's Cut
Trump’s Cut

Trump’s Bombastic Bomb # 1

Back in the middle of June, Donald Trump’s announcement speech marked the first time there has been such an overblown hairy ado over a coiffure and rape since Alexander Pope’s Rape of the Lock satirized the frivolity of eighteenth-century high society in 1712.

Trump’s rape comments and wispy locks were both agonizingly and tiredly scrutinized and derided. The late night comics recycled decades-old, trite jokes about his blowsy hair (1). The narrative-incapable press was no more reasoned or insightful in its response to the spectacular spectacle at the gold-gilded Trump Tower. The 24-hour media behemoth’s coverage of the first few days was mostly journalists and pundits attempting to dismiss and muffle his eruptive trumpet-blast entrance into the political arena as the off-key “whomp, whomp, whomp” of a tuba. (Look at these rantings and ravings from this long-winded diatribe of this insufferable, clownish, narcissistic blowhard.) The journalists and pundits cut clips into deconstructive snippets that were completely devoid of context, ignoring his many provocative pronouncements on America’s woes and suggested solutions.

The best the mainstream media could do for narrative was report on trivial matters, like how Neil Young didn’t condone Trump’s use of “Rockin’ in the Free World.” It took a few days catalyzing of a social justice warrior’s petition directed at Macy’s (which, in hindsight, completely and catastrophically backfired), demanding the business sever ties with Trump, that the dominant group-think narrative crystallized. Univision, NBC Universal, Macy’s, Nascar, Serta, two star chefs, Perfumania, PGA, ESPN, as well as attention-seeking, low-information celebrities all jumped on the dump Trump bandwagon. All too predictably, the media reported all of these severances as if they were one and the same, even though several of these business relationships were miniscule venue rentals.

Trump, the circus impresario always ready to deliver a knock-out counter punch, responded swiftly and decisively to what he claimed amounted to a loss of “peanuts.” He slapped Univision and the two star chefs with half-a-billion dollar and 10 million dollar breach of contract lawsuits respectively. He dismissed NBC’s decision as simply the bitter reaction of a company that he’d rejected signing a renewal contract with for Celebrity Apprentice–and blasted its hypocrisy in keeping company with the likes of the “lying” Brian Williams and Al Sharpton, the race-baiting charlatan. He rallied thousands of his supporters to boycott Macy’s and cut their Macy’s credit cards. He laughed all the way to the bank when ESPN and Nascar forfeited their deposits for events at his properties. As the business and (supposed) monetary losses rained down on The Donald, the conjecture that he was only running for increased brand recognition began to dissipate.

Meanwhile, he basked in the spotlight as the mainstream media—in its insatiable hunger for controversy and ratings–gave him endless, ubiquitous coverage. The so-called Bozo the Clown candidate began courting and cashing in on controversy. To continue and sustain his deluge of coverage, he dangled his registration and financial papers, and punctually filed them as he taunted his detractors–10 BILLION DOLLARS, not a measly two to four. These actions solidified his sincerity in earnestly running, quashed all hope of the doubters’ speculations, and fed the media beast a few days-worth of gossip gristle. And Trump was only getting started–he had, and still does have, plenty more cards up his sleeve.

As the pile on of dump Trump snowballed, the media reduced Trump’s hour-long speech to a truncated clip of a couple of sentences, which were then misinterpreted and misquoted as Trump exclaiming all Mexicans are rapists and murderers. Once the media dunces had come to their illogical consensus, they swiftly branded Trump a racist and bigot. Then the media mob repeatedly prodded and hounded The Donald for an apologetic self-sacrificial surrender at the PC altar of repentance. He defiantly doubled-, tripled-, and quadrupled-down on his statements because he knew–taking a page from Ann Coulter’s new book, Adios America–that his statements rang true, especially to whom matters in the GOP race, a large swath of the Republican base. The Donald, as will soon be evidenced, is ever the ingenious equivocator. He dangled just enough rope to get the media to pounce, but not quite enough to hang himself.

In order to fully understand the media’s transmutation and the strategic brilliance behind Trump’s comments, let’s split hairs by looking at the full transcript of his supposedly infamous comments.

“The US has become a dumping ground for everyone elses [sic] problems … The people aren’t the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you, they’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we are getting, and it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people. It’s coming from more than just Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming from—probably—probably the Middle East. But we don’t know because we have no protection and no competence. We don’t know what is happening and it has got to stop. And it’s got to stop fast.” [my emphasis]

Of course the imprecise ambiguity of his words allows for the lazy and surface-level interpretation that he believes most Mexicans are criminals and rapists. Yet his referencing of the border, the Middle East, Latin and South America all clarify his subject as just the illegals entering through America’s southern border. His decision to only give passing reference to the good Samaritans (nope, sorry, not citizens) illegally entering the country once again suggests he’s implying that he thinks they’re all criminals and rapists. However, when one looks at Trump’s use of “assume,” “probably,” and “we don’t know,” one can see that he is highlighting the fact that America is clueless as to whom is coming across her border.

But when dealing with negative criticism of immigrants, the touchy American media always revert to the worn-out racism card. They always frame the leveler of the criticism as a bigot. The Donald, intimate with the dullards of the press for decades, was well aware of this motif before he consciously decided to defy it. Though Trump’s statement was (cunningly) crude, anyone who thought it was a gaffe–instead of tongue-in-cheek goading of the press and his GOP rivals–was bamboozled. So many mistaken his calculated truculence for childish petulance.

It was during this time in his endless media tour that journalists kept berating him with skewed and counterfeit statistics on illegal immigrants,. (Why scrutinize statistics when they backup your confirmation bias?) The most memorable interview of this kind was the one with NBC’s Katy Tur. Tur went into the interview with the gusto of a lion tamer. By the end she’d been mauled worse than Roy of Siegfried & Roy and provided new credence to Sigmund Freud.

With a sarcastic smirk and condescending tone she began the interview by rudely questioning the sincerity of his bid for presidency.

Tur: So my first question, why are we here in New York? Why aren’t we out on the campaign trail?

Trump: Oh, I’ve been to Iowa many times. I’ve been to New Hampshire many, many times. Love the people there and we’ve had tremendous success, we’ve had tremendous crowds. No one gets as many standing ovations, And you know I spend a lot of time out. I was in South Carolina recently–and we’re all over. This weekend I’ll be going to be with Clint Eastwood in California with a tremendous group of people. I’m going to Arizona this weekend. I’ll be all over the place.

Tur: You were one of the only candidates that didn’t campaign during the Fourth of July. Pretty much all of them were up in New Hampshire and you were not there. You passed. No campaign events really this week. No campaign events planned for next week that we know of so far. You’re not campaigning that much, how can anyone take you seriously if you’re not out there showing your face.

Trump: Because I’m out there doing television with you, and I am out there a lot and I’ve watched [the other candidates] out there walking the streets and it didn’t mean anything. I was actually getting more news coverage than anybody else by far because I’m the one that brought up the whole situation and the whole mess with immigration, and what the Mexican government is doing to us. So you know I didn’t have to be, and I would’ve been had they wanted me to. And I just decided that it probably wasn’t necessary. I’m going up actually next week. I’ll be in Iowa many times over the next number of months.

Could he be any more candid for the camera? He doesn’t need to be constantly slogging it on the ground to events with hundreds of people when he’s transmitted into millions of American homes every single day. AWashington Post article, “How Donald Trump plays the press, in his own words”, cited long quotes from Trump’s Art of the Deal, which are enlightening in explaining Trump’s campaign tactics. In his bestselling book he explains how you must feed the mainstream media controversy in order to get coverage:

…the press is … always hungry for a good story, and the more sensational the better. It’s in the nature of the job, and I understand that. The point is that if you are a little different, or a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you.

He definitely has a “little outrageous” down to a T. And when you’re as “bold” as Trump has been the past two months, you don’t just get written and talked about endlessly, but you routinely get 10-45 minute interview slots on prime time to drive home your message, “Make America Great Again!” This free exposure also explains why WSJ just reported Trump “has rejected paid television advertising as unnecessary.”

Trump realizes he doesn’t need to squander his own money on ads when he’s already dominating headlines everywhere. Trump also explained the beauty of free publicity in his bestseller.

If I take a full-page ad in the New York Times to publicize a project, it might cost $40,000, and in any case, people tend to be skeptical about advertising. But if the New York Times writes even a moderately positive one-column story about one of my deals, it doesn’t cost me anything, and it’s worth a lot more than $40,000.

The Funny thing is that even a critical story, which may be hurtful personally, can be very valuable to your business.

Why blow money on advertising when you can get way more valuable exposure for zilch? Maybe this is the type of mindset and frugality a 19 trillion-dollars-in-debt America needs.

But back to observing Trump’s masterful handling of the press in action. Once he had brushed aside Tur’s questioning of his campaign’s authenticity, she began citing her friendly statistics on the benevolent, undocumented illegals.

Tur: We have a lower incarceration rate for Mexican immigrants and illegal immigrants than we do for any U.S. born citizens.

Trump: It’s a wrong statistic. Go check your numbers. It’s totally wrong.

Tur: It’s PEW research.

Trump: It sounds good, it’s a wrong statistic. Check your numbers.

After he brusquely brushed aside her false statistics, she made a desperate attempt at making a racist, direct correlation between El Paso’s high Hispanic population and the fact that the city has the lowest crime rate in the county. (She was basically claiming El Paso as proof that Hispanics are inherently less crime-prone than other people and other races. See America, let the Hispanic illegals in by the busloads, they’ll only help in diluting the national crime rate. To add to the hilarity, El Paso’s extremely low crime rate is also cited by defenders of the 2nd amendment because the city has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the country.) 15 minutes later, Tur was back at it with the faulty stats.

Tur: Immigration is down, why is this such a big topic for you right now?

Trump: Immigration is a very big topic. Take a look at all the time that is being committed. Go take a look–

Tur: The research says that crime does not match what you’re saying–

Trump: Depends on whose research–

Tur: The PEW research, which is independent–

Trump: Don’t be naive, you’re a very naive person.

Tur: The PEW research says that–there–for–immigrants on the whole create–are…

Trump: Come on, try getting it out. Try getting it out.

Tur: I’ll get it out.

Trump: I don’t know if you’re going to put this on television, but you don’t even know what you’re talking about. Try getting it out. Go ahead.

Tur: Immigrants commit less crimes than US citizens. There are less immigrants in our jails than–

Trump: You know what, number one, I disagree with it. Number two, whether it’s true or not, illegal immigrants…are causing tremendous crime.

Days before Trump bulldozed the young Katy Tur, the young Katie Steinle was shot dead in cold blood, in broad daylight, by a convicted criminal and illegal who had been deported five times. What looked like a fortuitous and timely tragedy for Trump, was in all probability a statistical inevitability. Yet, this extremely tragic murder no more proved undocumented illegals are all killers than Tur’s utopian El Paso proved their saintliness, but it did do wonders for the public’s perception.

To heed The Donald’s Art of the Deal again: “Most reporters, I find, have very little interest in exploring the substance of a detailed proposal for a development. They look instead for the sensational angle.”

Trump, a man with no shame, began bringing the murder up whenever talking, and the instinctual media lapped it up. On a weekend in the middle of July, in the heat of summer, Trump soared on his private jet to California, Nevada, and Arizona. At all three events, Trump railed against the “porous” southern border. While in LA, he held a press conference where several family members of Americans murdered by illegals were given time to speak at the podium. He topped off the weekend by giving a speech to over 15,000 Americans in Phoenix.

Shortly after that weekend, in what was most definitely a fortuitous event, El Chapo, the Mexican drug lord, had escaped prison and threatened Trump via Twitter over his immigrant comments. An international manhunt had begun, and somehow Trump had managed to again make the story about him. Next it was reported Trump had contacted the FBI for protection. Nearing the end of July, Trump was in Laredo, Texas, visiting the border–exultant in a presidential-like motorcade.

As the media feeding frenzy intensified, Trump surged and blew past Jeb Bush in the polls. This would’ve come as no surprise to Trump. Roger Stone, Trump’s former campaign manager who just recently quit or was fired, alluded in an interview that from the outset of Trump’s campaign it was clear to them that a tough stance on illegal immigration was a winning issue.

All they needed was the perfect sales pitch. Trump reread his bestseller:

The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular.

I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration–and a very effective form of promotion.

Lights! Camera! Action!

“I would build a great wall–and nobody builds like I do, believe me, and I’d build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”

  1. The most notable of the late night comics’ worn-out, played-out routines came from the sanctimonious Jon Stewart, who once projected an aura of witty intellect with his prematurely grey do. It’s the curious case of Jon Stewart that he’s now reached the age of maturity for fading hair and wisdom, yet, despite his 52 years, his so-called wit has shriveled to juvenile immaturity—e.g. his recent mock orgasm over Trump’s announcement speech. His stature as a biting satirist has shrunk over the Obama years as he’s fawned over the current president. Stewart’s palpable giddiness during Obama’s last appearance on The Daily Show, his clandestine briefings at the Oval Office, and Obama’s facetious executive order that Stewart remain host of the show all confirmed him as a huckster for the liberal agenda, not a freethinking satirist exposing hypocrisy on both sides of the political aisle. Stewart knew his audience well—the highly coveted, liberal youth of 18- to 34-year-olds—and he pandered and played to its cliched, simplistic worldview for 16 grueling years. If Stewart reflected on his relationship with his audience and writers, one could picture him paraphrasing Matthew McConaughey’s perverted high-school-girl-preying character in Dazed and Confused: “That’s what I love about about these green college grads, I get older, they stay the same age.”

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