President Donald Trump has not minced words when voicing his opinion on the news media, going as far as to call journalists “the enemy of the people” on Friday. David Remnick’s article for The New Yorker drew parallels between Trump’s confrontational statement and statements made by leaders of the Bolshevik movement. In Remnick’s words, “To be branded an enemy of the people was to face nearly inevitable doom.”
However, turning back the clock to this past election season, the media’s effect on the election’s outcome is glaringly apparent, leading to the question: Does Trump really want the media to face inevitable doom? In what Charlie Sykes, a conservative talk show host for WTMJ in Milwaukee, calls a “Post-truth” culture, it is hard to draw a line between “real news” and “biased mainstream media.” Trump used this to his advantage, intentionally or not, ever since he announced his candidacy. When the world’s information is available to us at the touch of a screen, one would think it would be relatively easy to differentiate fact from fiction.
However, it has become anything but easy. Almost every statement that came out of Trump’s mouth, during a debate or otherwise, was instantly fact checked. Yet it became a norm for him, and by default his supporters, to claim that it was just mainstream media pushing their partisan agenda, and therefore could not be trusted. His claim that the “leftist media is producing fake news” was soon joined by his claims that they were also covering up or refusing to report real news.
From him discrediting outlets such as CNN and MSNBC for covering up “real” stories, such as Hillary Clinton’s being on the verge of her death, his own twisted ideological sphere expanded to the point where if news was not being produced from within it, it was not reliable.
Having Roger Ailes and Sean Hannity, among others, within his sphere gave him plenty of positive “real news” to keep his posse of followers happy. Trump was used to being a man in a spotlight well before his political campaign commenced. From successful hotel and building investments to the creation of his hit reality television shows “The Apprentice” and “The Celebrity Apprentice,” he has been a glorified businessman and celebrity for decades. While the saying “all publicity is good publicity” may have applied in his reality TV line of work, something he proved by calling news networks under fake names to create headlines about himself, one would imagine it would not have translated to life in the White House.
Yet Trump’s victory seems to prove otherwise. Just a month before the general election, the infamous leaked Access Hollywood tape revealed Trump saying incredibly explicit remarks regarding women, remarks which many believed would cause him to lose the election, and at least lose a significant portion of the female vote. Yet, after Trump did indeed win the election, we see that he received over 50 percent of the “white” female vote.
It appears the publicity worked in his favor after all. The fuel that kept his campaign afloat was the media. All the time that these “fake news, leftist media outlets” dedicated hours of live TV to discussions about how his campaign would soon sink, was hours for a silent majority with no trust in the government and no trust in the media to look at a new option. So, while he will continue to harp the media about every negative thing they say, and maybe even bring “John Miller” out of retirement to create some positive stories, it is hard to picture him in the Oval Office without it.