If you are not feeling thoroughly manipulated yet, you’re just not paying attention.
The shock and dismay expressed in the aftermath of the NBC “Commander-in-Chief Forum” on NBC last week was, for lack of a better word, “touching”. Does anyone with half a clue as to how a media organization like NBC Universal operates actually believe that the decision to grille Secretary Clinton for the first ten minutes on the grotesquely over-flogged dead-horse of her email server was something that Matt Lauer came up with on his own? Do you actually believe the continual interruptions of Clinton during her responses was Lauer’s idea, or might he have been prompted by his producer to keep the questions coming? Were the softballs lobbed at Trump an unwitting acquiescence to the notoriously clueless GOP nominee’s obviously limited grasp of the issues, and Lauer’s failure to challenge him on his numerous factual lapses simply a lack of preparation on the part of NBC’s prized 28 million-dollar a year King of morning infotainment?
Are we really that gullible?
Over the weekend the story broke of how Secretary Clinton became faint and stumbled getting into her van after a 9/11 observance in New York, and predictably the media was abuzz with theories and questions as to her overall health and fitness to serve, despite a diagnosis from her physician that she was suffering from pneumonia. Why had the media not been informed of this immediately? Is there a deeper darker tale that is not being told? Why has she not submitted to an in-depth health screening and released every detail for popular scrutiny to be considered and speculated on and theorized on by the media’s appointed medical experts? Is Hillary Clinton on death’s door? What could she be hiding? Is this part of a master plan to install Tim Kane as President following her almost assured demise? Oh my God! How could we consider someone so frail to be commander-in-chief?
Or could it be that Hillary Clinton has pneumonia and needs a Z-Pak and a couple days of rest?
Of course not. That story doesn’t drive the media’s need for this campaign to stay as competitive as possible and feed the media money machine given that in reality her opponent shouldn’t even have survived the first few weeks of the primaries, let alone be polling within single digits of her nationally at this point in the campaign.
Donald Trump is our first truly made by TV, made for TV candidate. He rose to electoral prominence by playing the media’s game, a game he knows all too well. Trump is the goose that lays a golden egg for the network media machine with every toxic utterance that issues forth from his lips, every revolting tweet he twitters, every vapidly preposterous policy pronouncement he pompously proposes. The Trump phenomenon has propelled the political ad spending in this election cycle to an estimated 14.6 billion dollars – up from an already astounding 9 billion in the 2012 election, and that doesn’t count the drag dollars from advertisers who sponsor election events like the over-hyped “Commander-In-Chief Forum” fueled by this media driven feeding frenzy.
I hear people ask every day how it is possible that Donald Trump stands a chance – albeit still a rather slim one – to be elected President. The answer I fear is found in the phrase apocryphally attributed to Watergate informant Mark Felt, aka “Deep Throat”:
“Follow the money.”
The media, to meet the demands of its bottom line, needs this election to be a horserace, and if Donald Trump were to be held to a scintilla of the accountability expected of Hillary Clinton he would be already put out to pasture for stud.
And given what we know of his history he would probably be quite happy in retirement.