Win the internet, win the election: How Donald Trump is dominating
“One thing I’ve learned about the press is that they’re 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. I’ve always done things a little differently … The result is that the press has always wanted to write about me.”
The excerpt above is from a 1987 book titled Art of the Deal.
The author? Donald Trump.
As Yair Rosenberg tweeted last week, “Trump outlined his campaign strategy … get free media coverage by saying outrageous things.” And, oh boy, is it working. Every day, you can click on any given news site (whether it’s a journalistic entity or a blog littered with click-bait) and there are numerous stories about Donald Trump. He’s dissed veterans, menstrual cycles, the Pope, black rally goers, Mexicans, hands, Fox debate moderators, everyone else running a campaign, and journalists.
Now that last one, journalists, is especially reflective of the point.
Here’s why: He’s understands that other journalists are going to go buckwild the next five days when he says, “one of the things I’m going to do if I win … I’m going to open up our libel laws,” or when he has security throw a reporter out of a news conference. They’re going to write this story, and that story, and this one, and this one, and more and more and more.
Now those may be thoughtful pieces defending the press’s role in America. However, for a presidential candidate, it’s (free) publicity. His supporters already love that he’s “attacking the establishment” or whatever, so they’re not upset about his controversial statements. In fact, it’s part of his appeal.
Again, he’s been conscious of that since at least 1987, “Sometimes they write positively, and sometimes they write negatively. But from a pure business point of view, the benefits of being written about have far outweighed the drawbacks. It’s really quite simple.”
It really must suck for the journalists. I’m guessing most of them (generally, the news industry is liberal) don’t want Trump to win. However, they’re indirectly campaigning for him! His (ab)use of today’s media is unequivocally a huge reason why he’s the front-runner in 2016. Everyone is talking about him — both the media and the general public, which perpetuate each other (The mass sharing on Facebook of John Oliver’s attack on him is what I mean by the two perpetuating one another).
Reporters and columnists are only doing their jobs.
Nobody is going to write a story about someone doing laundry. Everyone folds laundry, there’s nothing exciting about it. It’s usual.
Now, if somebody figures out a profoundly incredible way to fold a t-shirt, someone may write that story. That’s unusual and new: it’s “news.”
Currently, outside of Bernie Sanders, all of the other candidates are laundry. They’re saying what we expect to hear from a presidential nominee. So when Donald is dissing Mexicans and Hilary is simultaneously saying something normal, who is going to warrant news coverage?
The economics of the news business also come into play. Most news on the internet is free. You’re not paying to read stories about Trump. Therefore, you’re not the customer. The customer is who they’re selling to.
As marketing and media maven, Ryan Holiday, rightfully put it: “The advertisers are the customers, and you’re what’s being sold.”
Yes, the money comes from the ads. Therefore, advertisers are the customers.
The only way that companies are going to pay The New York Times to run an ad on their webpage is if people are going to see it. Furthermore, advertisers will pay more money to be put on a page that more people are going to see.
The business is based on page views. Stories about Trump get the most page views (so do stories that make you click on an arrow to keep reading, stories with gimmicky headlines, and boobs, but that’s a post in itself). Full disclosure: it’s part of the reason I am writing this story now, because people are talking about Trump and this post might warrant some page views. It’s deadly.
As CEO of CBS News, Les Moonves, said earlier this week, it “may not be good for America, but it’s damned good for CBS.”
I guess the alternative would be to stop reporting about Trump. But that would never happen for the reasons above. On one hand, maybe we should question the concept of newsworthiness, which is a pillar of journalism. On the other hand, it’s democratic and encouraging that people are informed and have opinions about the 2016 race.
What we should find truly frightening (other than the fact that Trump might just win) is the possibility that another crazy and media savvy individual may surface in a future election. Trump has laid the blueprint for that person, even if he doesn’t beat Hilary Clinton this fall.
I’m going to get all of my thoughts out about Donald Drumph right here, right now, as I do not intend to post about him again…
1. I used to think Trump wasn’t actually trying to win the presidency. I thought he was trying to prove some unidentified point. It made sense with his “Make America Great Again” slogan. That hypothetical point could have been this whole media-exposing thing that I just wrote 800 words about.
That theory was wrong. He is definitely looking to win. And for the first time, I actually think he will.
Hilary is going to be the democratic nominee and she is part of the “political establishment.” He absolutely wrecked Jeb Bush’s brand these past few months, the other potential “political establishment” candidate. If he can employ similar tactics against Hilary, bad news! It’s why Bernie was actually seen as more “electable” than Hilary, because Trump couldn’t have played that card against Sanders, since he wasn’t running a traditional campaign.
2. That’s pretty scary to me. I REALLY DON’T WANT HIM TO WIN. I’M VOTING FOR HILARY, even if my only reason is that I don’t want Trump as the President of the United States.
3. Not everybody has to agree with you. Just because you think Trump is a disgrace, doesn’t mean that everybody who votes for him is the worst person you’ve ever talked to.
Polarization, or what I call the “either-or mentality” of our society, is the most toxic aspect of American politics. However, one thing all Americans should agree upon is democracy.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and vote. Debate is good; we should confront each other’s viewpoints and try to show one another new information and perspectives. But if someone doesn’t agree with your side, it doesn’t mean they’re a bad person (well, most of the time).
I’ll be pissed if Trump wins. But, even if his supporters have been manipulated, that means that’s who we, America, decided to name President. And last time I checked, we elect our president through a democratic procedure.
Read more: The Thought Police’s War on Honesty
Originally published at freethrows.net on March 3, 2016.