Monday, June 27, 2011

Trump Trumped The Media, Walking Away With a Reported $65 Million

The angry working class got the screw -- yet again -- when the much hyped Trump withdrew his name from the pack of GOP hopefuls.

In retrospect, did we need to know, way back in April, that Donald Trump was the "frontrunner" of the Republican field of Presidential aspirants? Because in retrospect, Donald Trump was never really a Presidential candidate to begin with. Jaded media types like this blogger who have been around the block know that Trump's flirtations with the American Presidency over the years have always served the larger agenda of broadening his brand. In the case of his media dominating pseudo-run for the Presidency, this time Trump may have pocketed a hefty $65 million as a result of his shenanigans. This blogger has yet to see a story in a major media organization on Trump's followers, the one's who believed him when he said that Ron Paul couldn't win and he could.

In the end Ron Paul may not be able to win the American Presidency, but he, unlike Trump, at least runs, putting his convictions above his financial bottom line.

I don't begrudge the pollsters in this debacle. Organizations like Public Policy polling will always poll, no matter how early, because, well, that's what they do. But what about the media. Does the fact that those hasty polls exist make it well and good for media organizations to lead with those polls, discuss them as if they were truly meaningful?

"A latter-day P.T. Barnum with an insatiable appetite for attention and a knack for getting it, Trump has capitalized on two defining and interrelated features of the political-media landscape in the Obama era: the symbiosis between political provocateurs and traffic-conscious news organizations and the rise of a conservative constituency that hungers for voices that will attack President Barack Obama in sharp and unapologetic terms," wrote Jonathan Martin in Politico.

In treating Trump as if he were the presumptive front runner on the eve of the Iowa caucuses or New Hampshire debased our national political dialogue. Airing Trump's snide insinuations about the President's citizenship and -- worse -- grotesque hints of affirmative action in his college years was a low point in the history of American media.

In this digital age where media organizations are in an increasingly hyper rat-race for ratings and pageviews and clicks, there will be profound temptations to give real estate to stories that are sensationalistic. Those stories attract eyeballs. But media organizations should weigh -- carefully weigh -- the consequences of the decision to go with those sensationalistic stories on the commonweal.

And we should feel shame when we get it so wrong.

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