About a year ago, I attended a dinner where Donald Trump was speaking. I expected a sparsely attended event, but I was wrong. Several hundred people filled all the available seats.
I sat next to the Washington bureau chief of a top cable-news organization. He told me that the network loved Trump and gave him more time than any serious presidential candidate because he attracted viewers to the network. The comment didn’t sit well with me.
Don’t get me wrong. I attended the dinner in part because I was a Celebrity Apprentice fan. I viewed it as one of the few shows along with Shark Tank to show business in a positive light. In fact, in May 2012, I wrote a commentary for Forbes about just that point. Trump had followed up with a nice handwritten thank you note.
Following Trump’s recent string of outrageous and headline-grabbing statements about everything and everyone from our border with Mexico to Sen. John McCain’s military service, any respect or affection I had for Donald Trump is gone. I found his comments about Hispanic immigrants not only racist and disgusting, but also totally untrue. My experience with Hispanics is that they are talented and determined, often working two or three jobs to support their families. They do jobs American citizens avoid. To disparage undocumented Hispanics as racists and murderers is contemptible and wrong.
Thirsty for more media, Trump recently questioned Sen. McCain’s heroism as a Vietnam-era prisoner of war. Trump has never worn a uniform to serve our nation. This fact alone should preclude him from attacking the heroism of the Arizona Republican, who suffered more than five years of torture, received permanent injuries and by all accounts inspired other POWs with his courage and refusal to be released before his compatriots.
Several days later, Trump had another inane outburst, calling Sen. Lindsey Graham an “idiot.” Those who have followed the South Carolina Republican’s career know him to be serious, substantive and studied on policy. Graham has courageously offered real solutions on immigration and deficit reduction. He is strong and thoughtful on foreign policy, albeit sometimes favoring a more aggressive American policy. Trump’s slander of Graham is unbecoming a presidential candidate.
Democrats are giggling with delight as Trump sucks up media attention and gathers support from the least-informed members of the Republican Party. But he has scant chance of actually winning the Republican nomination. Trump is playing the media and hurting his own party. The media circus he is attracting makes me wish the FCC would consider bringing back the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” requiring broadcasters to give equal time to both sides of an issue.
As for me, I will not hold meetings at or visit any Trump property or even watch any Trump TV show until he drops out of the presidential race and apologizes to those he slandered.
Recently, in response to the unfortunate church slayings, South Carolina acted almost unanimously to remove the confederate flag flying above its capitol. As Americans, we can each make a decision to do our part to remove Trump and his racism and inanity from the important political discourse our nation needs in a presidential campaign.
Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer electronics companies, and author of the New York Times best-selling books, Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Businesses and The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream. His views are his own. Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro