With his brash style and media acumen, Donald Trump struck a mighty blow against the biased media’s ability to control the election process with his abrupt refusal to participate in the Fox News debates intentionally rigged against him.
Donald Trump is the first candidate to campaign by media firestorm. Instead of avoiding controversy and apologizing profusely for unintended gaffes the media intentionally create and pounce on to force GOP candidates to acknowledge their power as kingmakers, Trump has skillfully employed his media savvy to turn the tables on the biased media propagandists and their arrogant control over the dissemination of information to Americans.
Trump has demonstrated that the past response by GOP candidates to a faux media firestorm of walking back the comment, humbly offering the staged apology, and demonstrating contrition by attending a seminar or making a donation to a cause aligned with the aggrieved group all while suffering through withering criticism offered up by Astroturf groups through millions of fake online accounts is nothing but a hollow threat employed by the media to exert control over the candidates and the process. Prior to Trump, GOP candidates feared the media and its power to discredit a campaign with one slip of the tongue, and the establishment GOP leadership reacted by advancing extreme moderateness as a way to train candidates to avoid controversial answers the media could use against them. This extreme moderateness has infiltrated so deeply into the ranks of the GOP that candidates are no longer able to defend conservatism and no longer have the desire to do so.
Instead, Trump has effectively shown that the desire to avoid controversy taught by the establishment GOP leadership is exactly the wrong approach. When posed a loaded question by a biased journalist intent on creating a gotcha moment, a candidate should refuse to take the bait by pointing out the biased premise of the question and directing the interview toward favorable ground and familiar talking points. To do this effectively, a candidate must avoid the temptation of allowing the establishment GOP moderateness to infect him as he must be able to clearly articulate his sincerely held beliefs on the issues. A side effect of establishment moderateness is that it causes candidates to become lazy and offer up bland clichés that allow the media to trap them by asking a nuanced question that doesn’t easily fit their palette of clichés.
When offering an answer based on deeply held beliefs, a candidate should not shy away from controversy he knows will be amplified by the media. Candidates should be prepared to vigorously defend their principles and their answers regardless of the level of criticism thrown their way. Trump often handles this situation by doubling down to not only defend his original comments, but to reemphasize them with even more incendiary language. Trump realizes that the language deemed incendiary by the media is often exactly the language used by ordinary Americans in explaining their views on the issue in question. He also knows that his views align with those of most Americans.
A GOP candidate should never walk back their comments or offer apologies just because the biased liberal media disagrees with them and wishes to embarrass them. GOP candidates should know that the media is biased against them and be prepared accordingly. Trump has shown that the media amplified outrage will die down after about a week leaving the original issue as the focus of attention. The vast majority of the outrage comes from Astroturf groups composed of fake online accounts whose leaders issue pronouncements of outrage the media use to fuel their firestorm. Once that tactic has run its course, there is no real outrage to further fuel the media firestorm and it’s quickly extinguished from lack of fuel.
Donald Trump was able to effectively focus the media on the issue of illegal immigration despite the intentions of both parties to ignore it as a nonissue because they know it is opposed by the majority of voters. After the initial fake outrage over Trump’s illegal immigration comments delivered during his campaign announcement died down, attention centered on illegal immigration and every other candidate was forced to go on record with their views. Trump had managed to use the media’s false firestorm of outrage tactic against it to highlight an issue of importance to the voters the media and its liberal masters would rather have ignored. The media firestorm only served to concentrate additional attention on the illegal immigration issue as Trump remained steadfast in support of his comments. Conservatives desperate to identify a candidate willing to fight back against the Obama administration and its media enforcers found their man in Donald Trump, and Trump quickly rose to the top of the polls.
Trump managed to overcome initial reluctance by conservatives who originally thought his candidacy was merely a stunt to gain publicity and raise his professional profile to profit from his brand. After all, he had threatened to run in 2012 and famously questioned Barack Obama’s legitimacy to serve as president by demanding the release of his birth records. The media derisively referred to Trump as a “birther” for daring to question the legitimacy of their progressive president, but Trump’s persistence attracted enough support to force the Obama administration to release what they labeled as Obama’s long-form birth certificate. Analysis of the released document quickly revealed that it was a forgery, and the media quickly buried any additional reporting until the issue faded from the collective memory. When the media launched its offensive against Trump’s candidacy by attacking him for highlighting an issue of great importance to the voters, Americans began to catch on to the media’s game of attacking any candidate whose views differed from their progressive beliefs and support began to crystallize around Trump because he was the only candidate with the desire and stamina to fight back.
Americans have long known of the media bias towards Democrats and their progressive agenda. This bias was identified back in the 1990s, but remained for years as a hypothesis limited to conservative circles as the media refused to acknowledge it and lampooned any mention of its existence. Awareness slowly grew beyond conservative circles as journalists fed up with the hypocrisy of their industry began to corroborate the stories of bias from those few conservative journalists who had confirmed this bias in jeopardy to their careers. Fox News chairman Roger Ailes even used this media bias to design the Fox News tagline “Fair and Balanced” to give the impression that Fox News differed from its industry rivals by being a conservative news outlet.
In realty, Fox News is just as liberal as its rivals, but manages to cleverly disguise this fact by blending somewhat conservative political shows with its news broadcasts. The recent attacks by Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly on Donald Trump in the first Fox News debate shocked Americans expecting to hear a discussion of pertinent issues only to hear Kelly savagely ambush Trump with personal attacks having nothing to do with the issues of the day. Kelly’s performance awakened Americans to the fact that Fox News was just as biased against conservatism as the other networks, with the distinction that Fox was in the tank for the establishment GOP leadership.
Trump launched one of his famous public feuds with Kelly and Fox News highlighting their hypocrisy of claiming to be “Fair and Balanced” while attacking the GOP frontrunner because he threatened the establishment GOP leadership’s grasp on the power to control the Republican Party. Americans began to seriously consider Trump’s points, and Fox News was forced to back down to downplay attention to the issues Trump was raising. Fox News stupidly announced their intention to ambush Trump in the debate prior to the Iowa caucus by describing their process of designing questions with the intention of making candidates squirm, so Trump wisely refused to participate. Trump was savaged by Fox News and every other network for his withdrawal from the debate because his refusal to allow the Fox News moderators to ambush him prior to the Iowa caucus threatened their grip on the flow of information to the voters and their ability to shape public opinion. How dare Trump display an independent attitude and refuse to submit to their power to humiliate candidates for increased ratings. Americans realized the debates were being staged to attract viewers with expectations of political fireworks to boost ratings when voters really sought to hear the candidates’ views on the issues so they could identify a candidate whose views mirrored their own.
Donald Trump and Ben Carson had earlier banded together to force CNN to abandon plans of expanding their GOP debate an extra hour for the sole purpose of increasing their advertising revenue without adding one minute to the debate time. CNN’s crass attempts at commercializing the debates turned off voters who railed against the network by indicating in polls that they would not watch the debate without Trump and Carson. Trump was leveraging his star power to force CNN to deal with him on his own terms. No candidate had ever had the power to force a network to accede to their demands, but Trump upped the ante by demanding the network donate $5 million to his favorite charity – an accommodation which he received.
Donald Trump’s exposure of the media’s cozy ties to the political parties has benefitted Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders and his message that the institutions and processes under which Americans live are rigged against them by the wealthy and politically connected. Trump’s candidacy consistently highlights the rigging of the political process by demonstrating the establishment GOP leadership’s use of Fox News to attack him while promoting their handpicked candidate. Americans have consistently rejected any candidate reeking of establishment favor to support outsiders in an attempt to capsize the entire rotten system that has fought against them for the last twenty-four years. In fact, the system is so rotten that the two parties have actually aligned in collusion as part of a larger Big Government Party that seeks to enlarge government and expand its control over the lives of Americans.
Charges by Bernie Sanders that the system is rigged have been highlighted by the New Hampshire primary results which saw him defeat Hillary Clinton in a landslide only to walk away with fewer delegates. DNC chairman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz populated the party leadership with women sympathetic to Hillary Clinton and manipulated the primary rules to ensure her nomination as the Democrat candidate by increasing the number of superdelegates while limiting the debate schedule. A backlash by angry supporters feeling the Bern forced Schultz to increase the debate schedule which she is now all too willing to do to boost Hillary’s sagging poll numbers by giving her more chances to appear presidential before Democrat voters. Bernie’s supporters are now outraged over the rigging of the superdelegates which has forced Schultz to concentrate her talking points around the fight for “pledged delegates” decided by the popular vote instead of the “unpledged delegates” which are the rigged superdelegates.
The increasing desperation of the media to preserve its grasp on the flow of information to steer American opinion towards support of the progressive agenda is being revealed in its clumsy attempts to deal with Trump’s candidacy. Commenting on Trump’s refusal to participate in the Fox News debates prior to the Iowa caucus, a spokesman childishly questioned Trump’s ability to negotiate with world leaders and churlishly belittled his trust in the opinion of his Twitter followers over the lofty opinions of the media kingmakers. Outsiders have prospered this year by highlighting that the system is rigged against ordinary Americans and benefitted from the media’s clumsy attempts to hide their bias.
Win or lose, Donald Trump is owed a debt of gratitude by future candidates who have now been armed with a game plan to humble the arrogant media, and by Americans for exposing the media bias that has allowed the wealthy elites to run roughshod over them by reducing their economic opportunities and ability to feel safe in the world. Smarter candidates paying attention to Trump’s candidacy will be prepared to handle the media in the future by taking it down a few notches when it dares to raise its arrogant head. Americans are much less naïve about the political process thanks to Trump’s candidacy, and their skepticism will be applied to other processes and systems they feel are being used against them.