Trump is widely regarded as a sociopath, who also is a great manipulator. Some of the people he manipulates are unwilling participants, such as the hundreds of contractors and suppliers he stiffed by not paying his bills in full.
Other people he manipulated were willing participants who either tried to be part of his sleazy entourage or wanted to cash in on his supposed alchemy of turning coal into gold.
Then, there were the major broadcast networks who thought they were getting a more sophisticated political presentation when in reality all they were getting was a cheap and dated vaudeville act, but with less pancake makeup and no dancing. Aside from missing the top hat and the cane. Trump’s press conferences and rallies are more vaudeville and World Wrestling Federation-type events that feature attacks on minorities, journalists, and anyone who disagrees with him.
If he was more physically fit, the White House should install a wrestling ring so Trump could pull himself up to stand on the lower ropes as he went on a tirade against the audience.
Trump knows the major broadcast networks want cheap programming. They are not interested in educating or informing the public.
Trump knows the media owners are greedy, so he gave them free, low-class entertainment in his cheap, political vaudeville act. The broadcasters love it. They just turn on the camera and walk away. The reporters in the audience are props. They ask questions, are ignored or berated. Trump used this same formula when he was campaigning.
It worked perfectly then. It is working perfectly now. But the national tragedy is that CNN, MSNBC, FOX, ABC, and Bloomberg cannot see past this cheap ploy.
CNN president Jeff Zucker, a broadcast executive who gave Trump a start on his first reality TV show, “The Apprentice.” said in a 2016 article after Trump was elected:
“If we made any mistake last year, it’s that we probably did put too many of his [Trump’s] campaign rallies in those early months and let them run,” Jeff Zucker said at Harvard Kennedy School, according to BuzzFeed. “Listen, because you never knew what he would say, there was an attraction to put those on the air.”
Zucker, who was the president of NBC Entertainment when “The Apprentice” was first on TV said that even then Trump was a “publicity magnet.”
“Trump delivered on PR, he delivered on big ratings. Zucker said. Zucker denied that he helped secure coverage of Trump on CNN or that the network’s constant coverage helped him clinch the Republican nomination.”
For a sick reason that has to do with flaws in the American psyche and people’s desire to discover the secret to becoming rich, Trump was a “publicity magnet.” Being wealthy was a great lure to working people, especially since they did not know that Trump was probably not that rich in the first place. That was the first phase of the great con and it has been going on for decades.
It’s also worth remembering that Trump’s book, The Art of the Deal, was written in 1987 by a ghostwriter, Tony Schwartz, who did not have flattering things to say about the man he spent 18 months with as part of his research.
Trump’s career as a real estate developer in Manhattan was marked by “conflicts of interest, power plays, politics, personalities and near-criminal behavior that resulted in three FBI investigations (but no indictments) of Trump’s various real estate deals., according to a review of the book, “Donald Trump: Master Apprentice.”
Trump was always in the shadows and gave the impression that he was just one step ahead of the law. In an earlier 1985 article for New York magazine, Schwartz had written that Trump was “a ham-fisted thug who had unsuccessfully tried to evict rent-controlled and rent-stabilized tenants from a building that he had bought on Central Park South. Trump’s efforts—which included a plan to house homeless people in the building to harass the tenants—became what Schwartz described as a “fugue of failure, a farce of fumbling and bumbling.”
That was the real Trump and it has been the core of his personality for decades. But another constant is Trump’s self-promotion, and the ability to manipulate a willing broadcast media. It’s too bad the broadcasters have not figured out they are promoting a demagogue.