Trump & the Media

And they said the internet would kill big media.

Trump never had a chance. America might be angry, but it does not want a blowhard billionaire whose specialty is profitable bankruptcy and strategic licensing to run its country.

But that does not mean television and newspapers did not love telling his story, it injected excitement, it sold advertising, and in the era of big data it was all opinion all the time. True, there were polls showing Trump with significant traction, but the data pros said that at this point in the game polls are unusually inaccurate.

But don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

So what does this mean?

Are today’s stars as big as we think they are?

Katy Perry sold as many TEAs (track equivalent albums) as Taylor Swift, but the latter is America’s darling.

We keep hearing about the popsters, Rihanna and Demi and a slew of no-talents, Kanye West is seen as the biggest star in America, whilst entire genres get little press and no attention and as a result they fail. Just look at Chris Stapleton, zero to hero overnight. The album didn’t change, it’s just that the CMAs gave him a big award on television and the rest of the media glommed on. He went from soft numbers at clubs to you can’t get a ticket overnight.

That’s the power of media. That’s the power to mold minds. That’s the story of this decade, with a plethora of information he who grabs the microphone wins.

But not really.

Remember when Twitter was gonna save television?

And right now you’d think that Snapchat is the new “New York Times.”

It’s all scuttlebutt all the time. And those we used to consider experts have been revealed to be anything but. All the prognosticators bloviating on the opinion pages, on Fox and MSNBC and the inane CNN, never mind the networks. Just because you put someone in the anchor chair, after plastic surgery and world class makeup, that does not mean their opinion is worth a damn.

Meanwhile, the supposed most powerful man in news, Roger Ailes, has been revealed to be a paper tiger. If Donald Trump can beat Ailes, it shows that others can too, those with enough gumption to see that the entire media business is a facade of self-important people with little knowledge…

But a great deal of power.

Want to be successful today?

Own the media. Publicity is everything. The rise from the bottom to the top via internet virality is a paradigm that expired with the last decade. Now the airwaves are cluttered, there are too many messages, and in a Tower of Babel society we all focus on that which everybody else does. Forget the iconoclast championing the obscure, that’s so sixties, the truth is we want points of discussion, and Trump provided one, just like Kim Kardashian and Taylor Swift before him. And yes, there are some statistics in the music business, data indicating success, but if you think Adele’s jumbo sales numbers for “25” would be as high if she didn’t dominate entertainment news for a month you can actually sing more than one song from the album. As for keeping her music off streaming services, that’s like doubling-down on the story of the little boy who kept his finger in the dike, you can’t stop progress.

And the truth is we live in a disorganized nation. One in which the rich rule, but not as much as they think they do. They’ve got all the money, but the people have power. But the people are swayed by the nincompoops in the media, they like the story instead of what feels right.

Trump never felt like he could win. His ascension to the throne was as flimsy as a “Rocky” story, fiction.

So when it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t.

How in the hell did an entire country think this guy had a chance?

How did our entire media system lead us astray?

In what other ways are they leading us astray?

Nate Silver had it right, Trump has too many unfavorables. Meanwhile, Silver started to blink, pull back from the brink, and was excoriated by those believing in Trump.

But Silver was right.

We hate the outliers, but they’re the only ones who can tell us the truth.

And what Trump told us was the media was a carny game that could be manipulated.

He could not win the election, never mind the nomination, but he taught us a lesson.

Here’s hoping more individuals who are unafraid of the media ignoramuses and bullies will challenge them too.

We’ll be better off for it.


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