For the past year and a half the Trump team has played the mainstream media like a fiddle. During the republican primary, he was granted millions of dollars of free air time as the unwitting mainstream outlets thought they were boosting one of Hillary’s chosen “pied piper” candidates that could be easily defeated in the general election. Then, after helping to catapult him to the republican nomination the media predictably turned on him in a blatant effort to elect their chosen candidate. Unfortunately for the mainstream media, none of their plans to destroy Trump came close to working and, in fact, he used their corrupt, biased coverage to rally his supporters which is likely a big reason for his ultimate victory.
Perhaps no one has summarized Trump’s relationship with the media and establishment institutions better than Michael Moore who famously predicted two weeks before election day that Trump’s election would be the “biggest fuck you ever recorded in human history”:
“They [working class voters] see that the elites who ruined their lives hate Trump. Corporate American hates Trump. Wall Street hates Trump. The career politicians hate Trump. The media hates Trump, after they loved him and created him and now hate him. Thank you, media. The enemy of my enemy is who I’m voting for on November 8th.”
But now that the campaigning is finally over, the true panic is setting in for the mainstream media as Trump is threatening to cut off the one thing they have left: access.
While Trump’s decision to bypass the media in recent days (starting with the message below posted on YouTube which has received millions of views) by speaking directly with the American electorate through direct distribution outlets like YouTube and Twitter may not seem like a big deal, it has the potential to be quite revolutionary. After running a campaign that proved that blatant, and frankly insulting, pandering to various minority groups and endless cash hoards weren’t necessarily direct determinants of election success, Trump seems intent upon proving that the mainstream media can be completely bypassed in the modern world…and it is glorious to watch.
Of course, we suspect this is part of the reason for the mainstream media’s recent crusade against “fake news” outlets, of which we’re apparently one. To the extent they can discredit competitive news sources then they get to maintain their monopoly on ideas and information, and the blatant manipulation of those ideas into their own customized narratives.
As The Hill points out, Trump’s distaste for the media is starting to sow fear and panic in the mainstreamers. For evidence of that fact, one has to look no further than the outrage expressed when Trump decided to ditch the press to have a steak dinner with his family. Where was that same outrage when Hillary ditched the press on 9/11 because of her pneumonia?
White House reporters are worried about access to Trump, who didn’t allow reporters on his campaign plane and ditched media staking out Trump Tower last week to have dinner with family at New York’s 21 Club.
The president-elect’s frequent threats to the press have added to a sense that the rules for covering this White House might be different.
“Every incoming president has basic, generally agreed upon rules of the road,” said Joe Lockhart, who served as White House press secretary for President Bill Clinton.
“The Trump team has decided they’ll blow up and the road and build a new one. Where it goes from here will be a test of how far the new president and his team want to push things, and the strength and will of the press to push back.”
As The Hill further notes, Trump has little incentive to go through traditional media outlets. Not only have they proven time and again to be an extension of the democratic party but with his social media following, Trump’s direct distribution of his message gets just as much coverage as a press conference would.
But Trump has little incentive to go through traditional media channels, some experts say.
Facebook and Twitter combine to give him one of the most powerful social media presences in the world.
He has former Breitbart executive Stephen Bannon at his side in the White House, giving him a powerful ally in the massively influential world of right-wing news.
And when Trump releases a straight-to-camera video to announce his 100-day agenda — as he did this week, in lieu of a press conference — it elicits the same volume of coverage as a press conference would.
Trump was lavished with billions of dollars worth of free airtime and exposure during the campaign, irrespective of how he chose to engage.
Press advocates are worried that the president-elect appears to be holding all the cards.
As the head of the advocacy group Free Press points out “over the last 20 to 30 years, each White House has thrown up more obstacles and become more obsessed with controlling their own message, but this is a new apex, and it’s really dangerous.” While we tend to agree that the disintermediation of the corrupt media may be dangerous for their employees…we suspect the rest of us will be just fine.
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