Friday, February 17, 2017

The Media and Trump

Please do not mistake me for a Trump supporter.  I am not.  I am very concerned with his business not being in blind trust and why Russia intervened on his behalf in the election.  I am horrified at the suggestions that the EPA and FDA might be completely eliminated -- as these are necessary for our lives and health.  I am very concerned that Republicans are going to use this administration as an excuse to cut Medicare and Social Security, when Trump clearly stated from the outset that he wouldn't touch those things. I am very concerned about his attitude toward the free press.

On the other hand, his statements that the press is "lying" are, I believe, being misinterpreted by the liberal press.  It's not that they have individual facts wrong.  Nor, I think, was his word "tone" quite correct.  It is that the media distorts the big picture.

The news media is a business that sells negative drama.  Positive, normal, boring things don't get reported.  What gets reported is sensationalism.  This is distorting.  It does not give a complete picture of what is going on.

Moreover, it does not give a broad scope of even what might be sensationalist.  Only a few stories ever rise to national attention.  It's like triage in an emergency room.  News gets screened for how much it will grab our attention.  We hear that.  The rest ends up on the cutting room floor.  You really have to do a lot of research to try to get the big picture.

I see the news media as being a bit like a horror movie.  You go there to get scared. The movie theater encourages you to eat mountains of popcorn, slathered in butter substitute, to deal with your fear -- so you can also get fat.  The news is like that.  You watch it and you get scared -- and you probably eat in front of the TV and get fat.

I do find the characterization of yesterday's speech as being a "rant" as misleading.  He seemed calm and coherent to me.  I do agree with him that his supporters will watch that speech and not find that it was a rant.  They're going to believe him that his administration is a well-oiled machine.

He's very slick and convincing.

I don't know if his administration is a well oiled machine yet. I doubt it.

I still fear that he is a corrupt, totalitarian, foreign agent.

But the media is distorting that press conference for sure.  What that press conference was was a slick piece of propaganda which in fact made Trump look smart and the press look like a crowd of annoying insects.

This is also what Kellyanne means when she says listen to his heart and not his words.  He's not a lawyer.  He's not an academic.  There are always going to be things that he says that can be picked apart.

But his followers are also not academics or lawyers.  They are, by and large, less educated, less intellectual, and lower income.  They are going to listen to tone.  They are not going to pick apart facts.  They are going to find the press harping on minor factual errors annoying.

I want to resist Trump.  I want him out as soon as possible. I feel he is hugely dangerous for this country.

However, he has a point about the press, and he does know what he's doing in terms of PR.

If we want to defeat him, we have to be less stupid about it.  We can't engage in petty insults and name calling.  That's weak.  We can't do sensationalist distortion of rumors.  That's not going to work.

We have to keep our attention on real issues: corruption, ties to Russia, totalitarian tendencies.  We can't look like a bunch of annoying insects attacking a person who knows how to present himself on camera.  He is, after all, a professional performer and comedian.  He knows how to get ratings.

I don't know if he's a successful businessman.  His finances are not transparent.  We hear stories of huge debts, bankruptcies, unpaid contractors, defrauded customers.  Personally, I doubt his claim that he's been successful as a businessman.  The fact that his name and face are used to promote hotels does not mean that he is a successful businessman.

However, as a performer and as a propagandist, he's hugely successful.  That's where he excels -- and we have to be smarter at responding to that.

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