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Assault on America, Day 118: Mind-numbed media wouldn't survive without Donald Trump

Trump Economic Growth
It doesn’t take a genius to see that President Donald Trump doesn’t like the media, and the media doesn’t like him back. Yet over the course of time it’s also evident both parties want and need each other to accomplish what each craves and desires; Trump the lifelong celebrity relishes the spotlight and plays off the media’s hostility to simultaneously pound them and drum up popular support for his MAGA agenda at the same time.

And the media can’t stop obsessing on Trump in their stories and news features because that’s all people seemingly want to watch or read about these days. Therefore, over the course of Trump’s nearly four-year-old political career a bizarre and strained symbiotic relationship’s developed between a president who prefers to communicate directly through social media and a reporting class that hangs on his every tweet or non-traditional utterance to attract fascinated eyes.

The media hates Trump but they also realize he’s paying their salaries. The harder they hit him and the more urgent the response the better it is for everyone concerned.

But there are also signs the all-Trump-all-the-time media might be turning their short attention spans towards newer and potentially shinier objects (at least in the short term), the discombobulated 2020 Democrat presidential field. As head-turning and interesting as Donald Trump always proves to be, there’s a collection of hungry name-recognition starved Democrats hoping to get their fifteen (-hundred) minutes in the limelight.

Niall Stanage wrote at The Hill last Friday, “President Trump is facing new challenges when it comes to driving the media agenda.

“Trump must now share the spotlight with the Democrats who are running to replace him. His capacity to make news by making law is stymied by the Democratic majority in the House. And there is a nebulous sense that his capacity to shock, via bellicose tweets and insults of his foes, has been diminished by familiarity and the passage of time.

“Trump has talked of his own political career in terms of the audiences he has drawn. But even his big TV hit, NBC’s ‘The Apprentice,’ saw its ratings decline over time. Could the same fate befall his presidency?”

It’s an interesting question, but no. Trump will persist being the media’s biggest fascination as long as he chooses to be; and people will still want to see him if he maintains his dominance of the American narrative. Just as people seemingly never tire of watching LeBron James make baskets or Tiger Woods hitting monster drives, they’ll keep tuning in or clicking on journalism product mentioning Trump like carpenter bees drawn to a round hole.

And if Trump wins reelection, it’ll continue for another four years. Bet on it.

If Trump seeks to prolong the notoriety of his presidency and celebrity, he’ll just keep tossing out attention-grabbing tidbits and the media will jump on them. It’s human nature. And when combined with the profit motive, you’ve got a heck of a combination for public relations success. The symbiotic relationship, right?

One of the media “experts” quoted in Stanage’s story (Boston University professor Tobe Berkovitz) also made a good point -- if the 2020 Democrats insist on attacking Trump every other sentence, they’re only perpetuating the president’s supremacy in the news. The same could easily be said of Republicans during Obama’s eight years (which seemed like a hundred, didn’t it?), but nearly all the criticisms were directed at the Democrat’s disastrous policies, not the man himself.

For Democrats now it’s the opposite. Instead of assailing Trump administration economic policy, or national security (immigration) policy or social policy (abortion, freedom of religion, etc.) they much prefer emphasizing intangible personality characteristics. Take Joe Biden’s heinous campaign introduction video last week, which was almost entirely focused on suggesting Trump is a racist while arguing America can’t sustain four more years of “him.” Well, can the country stand four more years of Trumpian policy?

Democrats will have a heck of a time advancing that argument. Heck, last week brought news that the economy grew at 3.2 percent for 2019’s first quarter, significantly besting predictions. Such reports must feel like a knife straight through the hearts of Democrat hopefuls who’re desperately attempting to paint the nation’s citizens as despairing and lethargic. People don’t need reminding but Obama didn’t have a single quarter of 3 percent (or more) growth during his tenure. By contrast Trump’s churning them out regularly and there’re no signs of let-up, especially with Congress so politically stalemated that they can’t possibly do any more damage to the productive class.

The media savors finding economists who will go on the record forecasting an impending slowdown. Such unsubstantiated opinions go right to the front of the queue in the news cycle -- but there’s only one problem… they’re almost always wrong.

And let’s face it -- 2020 Democrats are competing for media minutes as well. The best way to get them? Talk about Trump. With over 20 declared candidates (and some yet to give a definitive yes or no… Hillary Clinton?), it’s a struggle to offer something noteworthy enough to get cable show producers or big establishment newspaper writers calling. Seriously, who wants to do a story on Tulsi Gabbard’s foreign policy proposals?

Pete Buttigieg might be the party’s loan gay candidate, but his “wow” factor wore off quickly. Beneath the surface you’ve got only a thirty-something mayor of South Bend (Indiana) to latch onto. What’s “Mayor Pete” supposed to use to get folks looking, his drive to improve his city’s soup kitchens?

People don’t even want to hear about frontrunner Joe Biden’s ideas -- why else do you think he’s spending so much time talking about Nazis in Charlottesville instead of stressing his role in Obama’s greatest successes (are there any?)? “Lunch bucket Joe’s” propensity for gaffes prevents him from speaking extemporaneously too often with cameras rolling and microphones picking up every misbegotten utterance. So, to Joe, Trump and race it is!

Besides, whenever Democrats stop griping about Trump they turn their insecurities towards each other. The intra-flock peck fest has just begun, too. Jonathan Easley reported at The Hill, “The gloves are beginning to come off in the crowded Democratic race for the White House that so far has resembled more of a tea party than a barroom brawl.

“South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) said this week he didn’t think Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) could rebuild the coalition that pushed Sanders's 2016 candidacy forward, a line many saw as a shot undercutting a rival campaign...

“Separately, the Sanders campaign swiped at former Vice President Joe Biden … for raising money at the home of a ‘corporate lobbyist’ shortly after launching his campaign. And Justice Democrats, a group launched by former Sanders campaign aides, issued a blistering statement attacking Biden as a corporate shill and saying he’s the wrong kind of politician for the party to nominate.”

All this and Biden did such a good job savaging Trump with that white supremacy thing, didn’t he? Sanders’ backers would argue Biden’s whole candidacy rides on big money donors -- and they’d be right. So where does it leave Democrats?

In a tight spot. They all want to get along but they also must defeat Trump. The nastiness has only begun, but when you’ve got such a large group of ambitious politicians in close proximity, something’s bound to happen. The media’s feeding frenzy over the incredibly mean 2016 Republican race will seem somewhat less enthusiastic when Democrats are involved, but they’ll still cover it.

In the 2016 race, longtime conservative political observer Richard Viguerie said there were only three “message carriers” apart from the establishment --Ted Cruz and Donald Trump for the GOP and Sanders for the Democrats. In 2020, there appears to be just two message carriers… Trump and Sanders. All the rest are either water haulers for the swamp or drafting behind Crazy Bernie’s nutso coattails.

The media will maintain their Trump fascination as long as the president continues to draw people towards him. Some loath Trump, others adore him. Similarly, the 2020 Democrat candidates can’t win without stealing some of the attention Trump gets. How will it balance out?

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