There is speculation that billionaire Donald Trump is running a campaign for reasons other than attaining the Presidency; that he would never let his empire deteriorate while constrained by the demands of the Oval Office. Whatever his motives, Trump’s shocking frontrunner status means a desperate media will chase him for all the outrageous or grotesque sound bites he can spew. At the moment, the press is wrapped around his finger while he literally phones in interviews – behavior other candidates wouldn’t dare attempt.
Media Strategist Shawna Vercher says, “They need him more than he needs them. He may not do this as elegantly as Hillary Clinton, who must handle a ridiculous amount of national press attention, but there is no doubt he is working them all to his advantage.”
Since the press is determined to control, even dictate the narrative, are candidates required to better “handle” the media if they hope to gain a foothold? And if one cannot get favorable press coverage, is winning ultimately impossible? A question we must ask of the Hillary Clinton camp, since they deal with a daily smear machine looking to wreck her candidacy. Bernie Sanders’ camp complains of a different problem — being marginalized by the press. A problem Trump has, unfortunately, solved with bombast.
But Shawna also states that Trump’s joke candidacy is over and he is now in this contest in earnest. “The big checks he’s writing prove it.” I disagree that he will want to go the distance. At the moment, Trump can keep up the offensive stream-of-consciousness spouting because every poll he climbs is a gift. He knows he’s not in this for the long haul. If, however, Trump pulls back on his offensive sound bites and “conforms”, you’ll know he wants to get elected. More likely, he’ll continue to rabble rouse, sticking his thumb in the eye of candidates on both sides as well as rightly humiliating a media that has traded credibility for access.
Politics or Party aside, have we finally descended to a place where bomb throwing rhetoric (with no policy experience, or coherent policy prescriptions) really has a chance to win the day? Is Trump just a temporary lightning rod for everyone’s volcanic frustration or is something else happening here? The tragedy is that a side show is stealing focus from serious issues.
Join Shawna and Anita and chime in with your thoughts on our latest Dare We Say episode.