Trigger Warning. If you are into Trump-hate there probably isn’t any reason for you to read any further. It’s going to be a waste of your time and just raise your blood pressure. Thanks for the click, though.
Today Trump was at a rally in Melbourne, FL. There has been a lot of criticism of him being there, mostly from the same people who say he’s too dumb to do his job. For consistency’s sake you’d think they’d be happy he was at the rally and wasn’t signing executive orders or whatever, but no. Dislike of Trump has its own logic. Some interesting things happened. First, Melania opened the even with the Lord’s Prayer. Not some mumbo-jumbo non-sectarian Unitarian Universalist horsesh** collection of platitudes but the Perfect Prayer.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 18, 2017
To understand where I’m going next you have to understand communications and how the visual is much more powerful than the verbal. There is a great story from Hedrick Smith’s classic, The Power Game, that takes place during Reagan’s 1984 re-election campaign. Reagan had been campaigning at a series of venues bedecked with flags. The media was, naturally, laughing at the hokiness of it all. Leslie Stahl decided to do a “news” piece to reveal Reagan as an empty suit. She and her producer showed footage of Reagan surrounded by American flags while they patiently explained to Middle America why Reagan was a fraud.
During the rally some random seeming guy, acting much like a Price is Right contestant, was invited by Trump onto the stage. Listen at the very beginning of the video to hear Trump tell Secret Service to let the guy up on stage. And he got a chance to address the crowd.
So the facebook page of the guy pulled onto Trump's stage is pretty much as you'd think.
— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) February 19, 2017
A few tweets from the guy Trump asked up to the stage at his rally and had speak from the podium with the Presidential Seal. pic.twitter.com/tUCsSiOp1B
— Beau Willimon (@BeauWillimon) February 18, 2017
I will be the first to admit that, based on the later interviews, the guy Trump invited on stage seems a little too embued with Trump-love for my taste. Having said that, do you really think the media going after this guy is really a great idea? Of course not. Nobody likes or respects a bully and that is all you can really call the media going through this guy’s Facebook account and making fun of his interview. People will notice. They might laugh at the guy but they will despise the people in the press mocking him. Yet, the media will laugh about it and pat themselves on the back.
Let’s recap what happened here.
Trump had news coverage of his rally and his content was 100% his talking points. For instance:
“I want to speak to you without the filter of the fake news,” Trump said to huge cheers. “The dishonest media, which has published one false story after another with no sources, even though they pretend they have them – they make them up in many cases. They just don’t want to report the truth.”
“When the media lies to people, I will never, ever, let them get away with it. I will do whatever I can that they don’t get away with it,” he said. “They have their own agenda and their agenda is not your agenda.”
The media can fact check this until their ears grow hemorrhoids and it doesn’t matter to anyone but them. No one cares about media fact checking.
Second, Melania led with the Lord’s Prayer.
Third, Trump calls a random guy (or so he seems) from the crowd up. The Secret Service goes to stop the guy and Trump tells them to let him up.
The media can critique the rally, the speech, and the random guy all they want but they can’t take away from what the cameras were forced to show. It was pure showmanship. And the outcome will be in Trump’s favor. The pro/anti-Trump sides are going to just dig in but the people in the middle, that 20-30% of the electorate that wants both sides to get along, are going to see a guy who isn’t afraid to mix with the crowd and they are going to see a petty and backbiting media going after him. And they are going to see the media ganging up to ridicule the guy who went on stage. The result is that in the critical battle being waged, between Trump and the media, Trump just improved his credibility and the media hurt theirs.