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“The Master Media Manipulator”: It’s The Donald Trump Show, And The Media Are Nothing More Than Players

I wrote earlier about the peculiar spectacle Tuesday night of Donald Trump giving a 45-minute infomercial for his product lines, but I think it’s also worth noting how his post-primary press conferences illustrate his genius for media manipulation.

Two things specifically stuck out at me watching these performances. The first was that he stacks the first few rows of these events with his friends and supporters. And being a friendly audience, they eat up his shtick – laughing at his jokes and cheering on cue. For the casual viewer who doesn’t know any better, it might seem like he’s giving a “press conference” to an adoring media (as opposed to, say, a victory speech in front of supporters where crowd enthusiasm would be more expected).

Combine that with the second thing that has stuck out to me: When he gets around to taking questions, only he is mic’d up – you cannot hear his interlocutors’ questions. This gives him a couple of advantages. First, he can, at minimum, answer the question he wants to rather than the one asked, or he can go further, and on a rolling basis, screen out or ignore questions he doesn’t like. So Tuesday night, an NBC reporter reportedly – of course, TV viewers couldn’t hear the question – asked Trump about his verbal vulgarity and how parents should explain his language to their children. Trump didn’t like the question, so he didn’t answer it. Instead (perhaps taking a page from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s bullying playbook) he derided the reporter: “Oh, you’re so politically correct, you’re so beautiful. Oh, look at you – aww, he’s so – oh I know you’ve never heard a little bad, a little off-language. I know, you’re so perfect. Aren’t you perfect? Aren’t you just a perfect young man. Give me a break. You know what? It’s stuff like that that people in this country are tired of. It’s stuff like that.”

What was the question? All viewers got was Trump the Dominant ridiculing a reporter while the rest of the audience at this “press conference” laughed along. It’s Trump’s show, and the reporters become muted bit players abetting him.

Of course that doesn’t even get at their bosses, the “cable news” execs who carry his every utterance as if he actually were the president. (And does any other politician get to phone in interviews as much as Trump, rather than having to get in front of a camera?) Look, I get that Trump has some entertainment value and that his unscripted nature means that you never know what is going to pop out of his mouth at any time. But there’s got to be some sense of balance and/or responsibility. Fox, CNN and MSNBC gave Trump 45 minutes in prime time. As Politico’s Hadas Gold noted Tuesday night, “Forty five minutes of uninterrupted TV time on the three cable news networks is the equivalent of millions of dollars in free media for a campaign – a stunning amount of TV time.”

And he gets it routinely, because he’s a master of manipulating the media.

 

By: Robert Schlesinger, Managing Editor for Opinion, U.S. News & World Report, March 9, 2016

March 10, 2016 - Posted by | Donald Trump, Media, Reporters | , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Since the GOP leaders and other candidates waited too long to take him on, even the anti-Trump adds play into his narrative. The dilemma which they have had all along, is they cannot call him out on his lying as much, as his lies are just over-the-top versions of what the others say. Now, in the general election, his lying is fair game. I overestimated the others’ ability to quell this man in the GOP. It is coming down to two awful candidates in the GOP, with Trump actually being the lesser of two evils with Cruz.

    Like

    Comment by Keith | March 10, 2016 | Reply

    • One way or the other, they are on the road for a GOP implosion.

      Like

      Comment by raemd95 | March 11, 2016 | Reply


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