In the weeks following the October 7th release of an Access Hollywood recording that shows Donald Trump boasting of sexually assaulting women, the Republican nominee has launched an all-out assault against the “mainstream media.” While he is not the first republican candidate to criticize the media’s bias against conservatives, and although it has always been an integral component of his anti-establishment campaign, Trump has doubled down to make this the focal point of recent conversation.
In short, the Republican candidate raises some important questions about where allegiances stand among media outlets. Similar to theories laid out by Antonio Gramsci, the famous Italian neo-Marxist, Trump claims that hegemonic or Clinton-esque ideals are reproduced largely by the media and then absorbed by the public consentingly, albeit subconsciously. While I am certain Mr. Trump would spit up his lobster claw-frittata and morning grapefruit just at the thought of being compared to a Neo-marxist, one can see how his stance against the media is quite congruent with that of Gramsci’s skepticism. It fits perfectly with Trump’s “anti-establishment” campaign rhetoric.
Business Insider conducted research in 2011 which found that 90% of all consumed media (what is read, watched, and listened to) is owned by six organizations. Comcast, News Corp, Time Warner and CBS are among the four largest. These six conglomerates directly control the media diets of over 277 million Americans annually. Trump continues to claim all mainstream media is biased because they all seem to have one thing in common; they are all critical of his egregious behaviour.
While Trump justly earned the condemnation of the mainstream media, his arguments against them do warrant some thought and should not be dismissed. There is most definitely potential for collusion and bias among American mainstream news.
Hillary Clinton received the endorsement of eighty newspapers with over 20,000 reader distribution during the Democratic primaries, and has over one hundred endorsements post release of the Access Hollywood tape. It is apparent that Hillary has the support of the print media at large. This can potentially exert significant media bias. Does this legitimize Trump’s claim? I argue no.
We cannot overlook that Hillary has received endorsements from traditionally conservative newspapers that have never endorsed Democratic parties before such as The Columbus Dispatch, The Cincinnati Enquirer and dozens more. Not only do we see traditionally red newspapers turning “blue”, we are also seeing red states like Utah, Alaska, Georgia, and North Carolina going blue as well.
In addition, since the release of his genital-grabbing gasconade, many prominent Republicans have since “dumped Trump,” most notably Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan, the highest-ranking elected Republican. So it would appear that not only is the main stream media (both left and right) who are critical of Mr. Trump, but also prominent republicans and traditionally red states as well.
This in part debunks the Trump myth that the media is advancing Hillary’s interests. As it would appear, this goes far beyond the media, as even those who were once supportive of him have been turned off by his behaviour. If Trump’s proposals were factual, it would require a collusion between the Hillary payroll staff, high-ranking Republican officials, and entire states. Who knew the Illuminati were Democrats all along?
Trump recently threatened to sue The New York Times for libel due to a story they had published where Rachel Crooks, a former Trump receptionist, claimed to have been sexually assaulted by Trump himself. Trump has claimed that the media is fabricating stories in an attempt to smear his name, which is quite the statement, as eight other women in addition to Mrs. Crooks have since come out and accused the self-proclaimed billionaire of sexual assault. Perhaps the media is really dedicated to destroy him? Perhaps he simply has an extensive history of sexually assaulting women? As a person who has referred to woman as dogs, slobs, bimbos and has toted the size of his penis on national television, I would be compelled to believe the latter of Mr. Trump.
The point is that freedom of press, protected by the First Amendment, is an integral component of a functioning democracy and attempting to silence a newspaper is something expected of a tyrant, not a US presidential candidate.
This begs the question, why is he doing this? Better yet, are his intentions genuine? A man who lacks respect for women, immigrants, ethnic minorities, and who has offended everyone but his white male base, is certainly not attempting to take down the media because he genuinely cares about the integrity of the American democratic apparatus. He is simply attempting to deface a body that is calling him out for his proclivity for the absurd. Trump, infamous for persecuting nearly everyone, in his dying days is now attempting to play the victim card.
By propagating that “the Hillary Clinton-backed media” is out to get him, he is attempting to save face by insisting that losing a race in a fraudulent contest does not equate to actually losing. Because, of course, Donald Trump never loses (he sues or settles until the verdict is so convoluted that no one really knows who has won).
The real issue with Mr. Trump’s extreme denunciation of the press is that his slave-like pundits are following suit. On October 14, NY Magazine reported that “Traveling press were called ‘whores’ and ‘press-titutes’ at [Trump’s] rally in West Palm Beach”. At his rally in Cincinnati, the press had to be escorted out the back door of the event to a heavily guarded motorcade after being greeted with boos, middle fingers and seemingly arena-wide chants of “Tell the truth!” and “CNN sucks!” This is emblematic of how his manipulation is resulting in such hostility.
Completely discarding his dysfunctional moral compass, Trump is attempting to take down the validity of the entire democratic process instead of accepting defeat. This has dangerous and long-standing ramifications, as his base of loyalists believe it wholeheartedly. We are now seeing a turbulent acceptance of an inevitable democratic presidency. Let the record show that the United States has had an uninterrupted peaceful transition of power since 1789, whereby the Articles of Confederation were superseded by the American Constitution.
Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, but historically the loser grants legitimacy to the victor and in the case of a presidential election, respects the democratic process. Donald is attempting to completely excuse his absurd behaviour and obscenities by slandering the main stream media.
While he has accidentally stumbled into a conversation that does possess merit and requires further investigation, he is doing it all in the name of saving his ego and brand. Mr. Trump has ridiculed anyone who has spoken out against him and the media is now facing his wrath. In his last dying hours, Trump is attempting to take down anyone and everyone with his sinking ship, even if it comes at the expense of the American people he claims to care so much about.