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Taibbi writes: "Some people in the news business are having second thoughts this week about their campaign strategy. They're wondering if they created a monster in Donald Trump."

Donald Trump. (photo: Getty)
Donald Trump. (photo: Getty)


It's Too Late to Turn Off Trump

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

10 December 15

 

We can't change the channel on the culture he's exposed

ome people in the news business are having second thoughts this week about their campaign strategy. They're wondering if they created a monster in Donald Trump.

The LA Times published a piece about how the tone of Trump's TV appearances has changed, now that's he's fully out of the closet as an aspiring dictator, with his plans to ban all Muslims and close the Internet and whatever else he's come up with in the last ten minutes.

The paper noted that the candidate had unusual trouble on Morning Joe, a show that usually doubles as Trump's weekly spa treatment:

"Typically, the billionaire TV personality is able to bluster his way through morning talk shows. But Trump had an unusually contentious appearance Tuesday morning on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe,' where co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski grilled him on his proposals to keep Muslims out of the U.S....

"'It certainly puts the burden on the people conducting the interviews to be tougher the more controversial his comments are,' Scarborough told The Times after the exchange."

The paper went on to dig in to the ethics of covering Trump:

"Trump represents something of a quandary for the media, especially TV networks. Privately, TV news producers acknowledge that Trump has turbocharged their ratings…" 

Essentially, TV news producers are wondering: "How do we keep getting the great ratings without helping elect the Fourth Reich?"

In the same piece, Joe Scarborough said the problem was that Trump gives such great access to the media, just like John McCain did in 2000. "When John McCain was letting members of the press on his Straight Talk Express bus," Scarborough explained, "other Republicans always said he got the benefit of the doubt."

In other words, Trump is so open and accommodating with the press that it makes it hard for reporters to hammer his insane ideas. Scarborough doesn't seem to realize it, but that's a pretty damning admission.

There are some people now who are urging the media to ignore Donald Trump, and simply not cover him. But it's a little late for that.

The time to start worrying about the consequences of our editorial decisions was before we raised a generation of people who get all of their information from television, and who believe that the solution to every problem is simple enough that you can find it before the 21 minutes of the sitcom are over.

Or before we created a world in which the only inner-city black people you ever see are being chased by cops, and the only Muslims onscreen are either chopping off heads or throwing rocks at a barricades.

This is an amazing thing to say, because in Donald Trump's world everything is about him, but Trump's campaign isn't about Trump anymore. With his increasingly preposterous run to the White House, the Donald is merely articulating something that runs through the entire culture.

It's hard to believe because Trump the person is so limited in his ability to articulate anything. Even in his books, where he's allegedly trying to string multiple thoughts together, Trump wanders randomly from impulse to impulse, seemingly without rhyme or reason. He doesn't think anything through. (He's brilliantly cast this driving-blind trait as "not being politically correct.")

It's not an accident that his attention span lasts exactly one news cycle. He's exactly like the rest of America, except that he's making news, not following it – starring on TV instead of watching it. Just like we channel-surf, he focuses as long as he can on whatever mess he's in, and then he moves on to the next bad idea or incorrect memory that pops into his head.

Lots of people have remarked on the irony of this absurd caricature of a spoiled rich kid connecting so well with working-class America. But Trump does have something very much in common with everybody else. He watches TV. That's his primary experience with reality, and just like most of his voters, he doesn't realize that it's a distorted picture.

If you got all of your information from TV and movies, you'd have some pretty dumb ideas. You'd be convinced blowing stuff up works, because it always does in our movies. You'd have no empathy for the poor, because there are no poor people in American movies or TV shows – they're rarely even shown on the news, because advertisers consider them a bummer.

Politically, you'd have no ability to grasp nuance or complexity, since there is none in our mainstream political discussion. All problems, even the most complicated, are boiled down to a few minutes of TV content at most. That's how issues like the last financial collapse completely flew by Middle America. The truth, with all the intricacies of all those arcane new mortgage-based financial instruments, was much harder to grasp than a story about lazy minorities buying houses they couldn't afford, which is what Middle America still believes.

Trump isn't just selling these easy answers. He's also buying them. Trump is a TV believer. He's so subsumed in all the crap he's watched – and you can tell by the cropped syntax in his books and his speech, Trump is a watcher, not a reader – it's all mixed up in his head.

He surely believes he saw that celebration of Muslims in Jersey City, when it was probably a clip of people in Palestine. When he says, "I have a great relationship with the blacks," what he probably means is that he liked watching The Cosby Show.

In this he's just like millions and millions of Americans, who have all been raised on a mountain of unthreatening caricatures and clichés. TV is a world in which the customer is always right, especially about hard stuff like race and class. Trump's ideas about Mexicans and Muslims are typical of someone who doesn't know any, except in the shows he chooses to watch about them.

This world of schlock stereotypes and EZ solutions is the one experience a pampered billionaire can share with all of those "paycheck-to-paycheck" voters the candidates are always trying to reach. TV is the ultimate leveling phenomenon. It makes everyone, rich and poor, equally incapable of dealing with reality.

That's why it's so ironic that some people think the solution to the Trump problem is turning him off. What got us into this mess was the impulse to change the channel the moment we feel uncomfortable. Even if we take the man off the air, the problem he represents is still going to be there, just like poverty, corruption, mass incarceration, pollution and all of the other things we keep off the airwaves.

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

Comments   

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We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

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Adapt and overcome.

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Founder, Reader Supported News

 
+51 # guomashi 2015-12-10 10:01
Trump is a true and valid voice for a large segment of the American population.

If we are a democracy, any attempt to suppress him is unamerican.

If we are not a democracy, who is the censor who determines which voices can be heard? And what is their interest?

Right now the censors are the Koch Brothers et al. Their interest is to buy the government.

Government created censors have their own agendas which history has shown not to be healthy either.

At this point the near universal outrage against Trump for his statements rings false from most of the people making the claims:
Netanyahu? Really? The way muslims and palestinians are treated?
The rest of the republicans who can't wait to get their hands on the trigger for WW III? Afraid of being thrown off the gravy train?

That leaves democracy as the best option, which means attempts to demonize Trump (and the large number of people he speaks for) are no more acceptable than attempts to demonize Bernie for being a socialist.

There is more danger in trying to write Trump off than in engaging him. The people he speaks for will not be suppressed.
 
 
+41 # reiverpacific 2015-12-10 11:21
Quoting guomashi:
Trump is a true and valid voice for a large segment of the American population.

If we are a democracy, any attempt to suppress him is unamerican.

If we are not a democracy, who is the censor who determines which voices can be heard? And what is their interest?

Right now the censors are the Koch Brothers et al. Their interest is to buy the government.

Government created censors have their own agendas which history has shown not to be healthy either.

At this point the near universal outrage against Trump for his statements rings false from most of the people making the claims:
Netanyahu? Really? The way muslims and palestinians are treated?
The rest of the republicans who can't wait to get their hands on the trigger for WW III? Afraid of being thrown off the gravy train?

That leaves democracy as the best option, which means attempts to demonize Trump (and the large number of people he speaks for) are no more acceptable than attempts to demonize Bernie for being a socialist.
There is more danger in trying to write Trump off than in engaging him. The people he speaks for will not be suppressed.

You are NOT a Democracy and, outside of the alternative media, have been censored and propagandized for decades, only it's Corporate Totalitarianism -linked with the power-players and groups really running the country.
I'd bet that if (Gawd forbid) the Trumpet ever assumed full power, he'd instantly quash ANY dissidents and critics
 
 
+13 # guomashi 2015-12-10 13:27
Quoting reiverpacific:

You are NOT a Democracy and, outside of the alternative media, have been censored and propagandized for decades, only it's Corporate Totalitarianism -linked with the power-players and groups really running the country.
I'd bet that if (Gawd forbid) the Trumpet ever assumed full power, he'd instantly quash ANY dissidents and critics


1. You should read more closely what I wrote.
2. What is your solution, suppression?
3. How is Trump suppressing dissent any different from the suppression we have now?

These issues need to be engaged.
Too much flailing faux outrage gets no one anywhere.
 
 
+34 # bmiluski 2015-12-10 13:38
Actually...guom ashi...we are NOT a democracy as long as there is an electoral college. Do you realize that the electoral college does not have to vote the way the people voted? They can vote in ANY candidate they want. Also, just because the majority of the people vote for a candidate, it does not mean that that candidate wins the election (Al Gore won the majority of votes but bush became president.)
 
 
+26 # guomashi 2015-12-10 14:03
Quoting bmiluski:
Actually...guomashi...we are NOT a democracy as long as there is an electoral college. Do you realize that the electoral college does not have to vote the way the people voted? They can vote in ANY candidate they want. Also, just because the majority of the people vote for a candidate, it does not mean that that candidate wins the election (Al Gore won the majority of votes but bush became president.)


I am well aware of American history and the anti-democratic institutions of the Senate and the Electoral College.
I agree these are issues that need to be addressed: the electoral college should be dissolved and the senate should be reconstituted.
Those are important issues tangential to the current discussion.

Trump is very savvy in his use of the media, but it is all to no avail if nothing he says resonates with the public. That resonance is a problem which needs to be addressed. All the hand-wringing going on among hypocritical national and world leaders devolves to nothing but so much crocodile tears. The fact is 2/3 of republican voters like what he says.

How to change that? I suggest if Trump's anti muslim comments invoke so much hatred, rage and violence the solution is in teaching comparative religion from nursery school through high school. He can only feed on ignorance we have created with poor educational policies.
 
 
-9 # bmiluski 2015-12-10 15:03
If you check the polls guyomashi, you'll see that trump is only getting support ofonly 30% of the republicans.
 
 
+29 # guomashi 2015-12-10 15:06
Quoting bmiluski:
If you check the polls guyomashi, you'll see that trump is only getting support ofonly 30% of the republicans.


30% of republicans in a field of 14 candidates is huge.

More importantly, if you have been following the polls you will know his popularity rose significantly after his anti-muslim comments.

AND: 65% of republican voters agree that we should not allow muslims into the country.

There is no white-washing these results.(pun intended)
 
 
+32 # lorenbliss 2015-12-10 21:29
"Helping elect the Fourth Reich" is precisely what Trump is about -- and that is precisely why, behind all the rhetorical smokescreens, Trump (like Hitler before him) is the real Ruling Class candidate.

Remember the Third Reich was elected too -- by a people far better educated and more technologically advanced than the U.S. was at the time. Remember also that as it was U.S. capitalists who financed the Nazis' rise to power, so it was U.S. politicians, generals and bureaucrats who, after the war, embraced with open arms a huge contingent of Nazi war criminals. And some of those criminals made no secret of their intent to turn the U.S. into the Fourth Reich.

Now, relative to the world today, the U.S. is the most ignorant -- and by far the most savagely oppressive -- of all the industrialized nations. Indeed its prisons, the total surveillance by which it polices its citizens and its ever-more-obvio us agenda of global conquest proves it is already the de facto Fourth Reich. This makes Trump's appeal to the Moron Nation masses all the more terrifying -- and his election as the USian Empire's (first) Fuehrer all the more probable.
 
 
+2 # economagic 2015-12-10 22:16
Scary that you're getting dissed.
 
 
+14 # lorenbliss 2015-12-11 02:31
I'm not surprised, economagic. The (pseudo) Left here in Moron Nation is as ignorant of history (and as anti-intellectu al) as the Right. Both are the product of the Ayn-Randificati on that has conditioned the population since the coup of 22 November 1963.

Note too the obscene phenomenon of the self-proclaimed "progressives" who turn out to be as maliciously anti-union as any Scott Walker reactionary. The (real) Left, meanwhile, has been so marginalized by the same process of moronation that we had basically been reduced to modern Cassandras.

However, the times are most assuredly changing. Bernie Sanders' campaign is giving new relevance to socialism generally. And from that introduction -- especially given the advent of an intensity of capitalist savagery that now fully reveals the knowing embrace of moral imbecility mandated by capitalism's doctrinal core -- there is also a burgeoning interest in the works of Marx, Engels and Lenin.

The Seattle victories of Kshama Sawant, who publicly declares her Marxian ideology, are harbingers of things to come. So is the partial victory of 15 Now in Tacoma, whereby a Marxian coalition won a $12 minimum wage for workers within the city. The Big Lie campaign to suppress the historical truths of class struggle is clearly failing.

Indeed there is an entire generation -- in the U.S, and across the globe -- awakening to the fact that only socialism will enable us to save our species and our planet from capitalism.
 
 
+1 # backwards_cinderella 2015-12-11 05:00
Honestly, I don't understand why you're getting dissed either.
 
 
+4 # lorenbliss 2015-12-11 08:18
My thanks to those who are un-dissing me.
 
 
+2 # bmiluski 2015-12-11 12:07
Actually, lorenbliss, Hindenburg reluctantly agreed to appoint Hitler as chancellor. Hitler never won an election.
 
 
+3 # lorenbliss 2015-12-11 13:20
Actually, bmiluski, the reason Hindenburg appointed Hitler chancellor was the German people had voted the Nazis the controlling plurality in the Reichstag. See for example Shirer, "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," (Simon & Schuster: 1981), especially pgs. 185-191.

Quoth Shirer: "What (the Ruling Class) wanted was an authoritarian Germany which at home would put an end to democratic "nonsense" and the power of the trade unions and in foreign affairs undo the verdict of 1918..." (pg. 186). "The Germans imposed the Nazi tyranny on themselves" (pg. 187).
 
 
0 # wrknight 2016-03-13 14:27
Quoting bmiluski:
If you check the polls guyomashi, you'll see that trump is only getting support ofonly 30% of the republicans.

Yeah, but 31 out of 54 Republican Senators are supporting him. That's a lot more than 30% in the U.S. Senate.
 
 
+17 # ericlipps 2015-12-10 19:17
Quoting guomashi:
Quoting reiverpacific:

I'd bet that if (Gawd forbid) the Trumpet ever assumed full power, he'd instantly quash ANY dissidents and critics


How is Trump suppressing dissent any different from the suppression we have now?

You can't be serious. Bad as it is now, Trump has made it clear he'd like to make it worse. A wall on our southern border, and the Mexican government strong-armed into paying for it? Muslims banned as immigrants and perhaps even as visitors? Gagging the Internet? What's next? "Postponing" the next election after he's in the White House (if he gets there)?
 
 
+1 # reiverpacific 2015-12-12 11:59
Quoting guomashi:
Quoting reiverpacific:

You are NOT a Democracy and, outside of the alternative media, have been censored and propagandized for decades, only it's Corporate Totalitarianism -linked with the power-players and groups really running the country.
I'd bet that if (Gawd forbid) the Trumpet ever assumed full power, he'd instantly quash ANY dissidents and critics


1. You should read more closely what I wrote.
2. What is your solution, suppression?
3. How is Trump suppressing dissent any different from the suppression we have now?

These issues need to be engaged.
Too much flailing faux outrage gets no one anywhere.


I wasn't criticizing you; just pointing out a too often misused cliche in self-descriptio n of this Oligarch.
So donn-a get-a yo' knickers in a twist bro' or sistah; I usually concur with you.
 
 
+16 # Thinking allowed 2015-12-10 14:29
[quote name="reiverpac ific"][
it's Corporate Totalitarianism -linked with the power-players and groups really running the country.
Of course, Reiver is correct. We must do all we can to elect almost all Democrats who are the lesser evil and many times the greater good. How much media time could have been devoted to the climate conference if Trump hadn't been hogging the airwaves. Btw, too much time is also devoted to the terrorist attacks--hours & hours. I'm tired of looking at the faces & lives of the latest couple who have achieved their goals: killing/publici ty. We need to hear & see substance on more topics, not mind-numbing repetition on Trump et.al. The more fear Trump promotes, the more people think and act irrationally. Fear and greed: both primitive emotions as people search desperately for security, ironically in the richest country in the world.
 
 
0 # TwainPatriot 2015-12-12 00:48
Quoting reiverpacific:
[ " You are NOT a democracy "

I think you were misundertstood by many, not knowing you were speaking as a resident (citizen?) of Canada. I doubt guomashi was speaking of of the USA as a democracy EMBODIED, but rather as a possible locus of democracy. In that I side with guomashi, these are time where, even if this is only part of the alternative media - now - some of the ideas and critiques seen here will leak and are leaking into the mainstream.
 
 
0 # reiverpacific 2015-12-13 12:41
Quoting TwainPatriot:
Quoting reiverpacific:
[ " You are NOT a democracy "

I think you were misundertstood by many, not knowing you were speaking as a resident (citizen?) of Canada. I doubt guomashi was speaking of of the USA as a democracy EMBODIED, but rather as a possible locus of democracy. In that I side with guomashi, these are time where, even if this is only part of the alternative media - now - some of the ideas and critiques seen here will leak and are leaking into the mainstream.

I'm a resident citizen of Scotland/UK/EU.
But I've been in and out since the 1970's and resident by virtue of having married two American ladies (NOT at the same time -I aint no Mormon) and although being unable to vote but being a taxpayer, feel obliged to be knowledgeable and active in ANY county I live in, including many countries around the world who are in actuality, or much closer to being actually, active Democracies as opposed to Oligarchies in Democratic clothing.
This I think, gives me a broad perspective and I feel, the right, to make the comparison.
I'd be happy to be a dual-citizen if the US would permit it but it's officially one way; "You're either with us or against us", as a certain dimwitted illegally-selec ted president put it. Although I love where we live, I'm not about to give up my citizenship in a country/contine nt that has Universal Healthcare among other social benefits, for one without.
I hope that explains my perspective.
 
 
+40 # wrknight 2015-12-10 13:08
It's ironic that most candidates have to pay for advertising, but Trump gets it free. All he has to do is act the clown. (I'm not sure it's an act.) He doesn't have to spend a nickel in campaigning because TV is giving him all the air time he can possibly use. The more air time they give him, the higher their ratings and the more air time they give him. It's no wonder this year's Republican race has turned into a freak show.
 
 
+8 # guomashi 2015-12-10 13:29
Quoting wrknight:
It's ironic that most candidates have to pay for advertising, but Trump gets it free. All he has to do is act the clown. (I'm not sure it's an act.) He doesn't have to spend a nickel in campaigning because TV is giving him all the air time he can possibly use. The more air time they give him, the higher their ratings and the more air time they give him. It's no wonder this year's Republican race has turned into a freak show.


This is a superficial gloss over the fact that no matter how much attention he gets for anything people agree with what he says. That agreement isn't going away. Blaming his personal clown car or the media attention does not address the problem.
 
 
-133 # Pops07 2015-12-10 10:03
If Trump gains the White House, it will be the liberal media who put him there.
 
 
+134 # cavewoman 2015-12-10 10:18
What liberal media? Haven't seen that in 40 years. Any semblance of a liberal media vanished with the death of the Fairness Doctrine thanks to reagan. The myth of the 'liberal media' started with Nixon I believe; ironically if Nixon were running for President in this climate he would have to run as a conservative Democrat because he would be too liberal for the Rs
 
 
+55 # Jayceecool 2015-12-10 11:12
The "liberal media" that beats the drums of war? Yeah, right...
 
 
+34 # wrknight 2015-12-10 13:09
Quoting Pops07:
If Trump gains the White House, it will be the liberal media who put him there.

What planet did you say you were from?
 
 
+37 # bmiluski 2015-12-10 13:41
Please explain to me...Pops...how the media can be liberal when over 90% of the media outlets are owned by uber neo-con Rupert Murdock?
 
 
+21 # jsluka 2015-12-10 16:55
So you think the corporate owned media are "liberal"? I have a bridge to sell you.
 
 
+5 # economagic 2015-12-10 22:18
Actually I've been offering beautiful oceanfront property in northwest Georgia. No one around here even knows that bridge exists.
 
 
+1 # Texas Aggie 2015-12-11 01:59
I'll match your oceanfront property in GA with a real beachfront property in a civilized part of the world near Galveston. You can see the beach out your back door as you look north.
 
 
+11 # RnR 2015-12-10 10:27
My feeling is that Trump voices these totally outrageous options, the news media goes berserk as usual but who is the 80% of "news" (I use the term loosely) "content"?

Donald Trump.

I think it's just marketing, I think he's laughing his butt off and skipping to the Republican nomination. I don't think he'd ever seriously consider half of the ideas he's throwing out there. The guy is too smart.
 
 
+12 # wrknight 2015-12-10 13:02
You don't get smart watching TV and if you are smart, you don't watch TV.
 
 
-5 # truthseeker8660 2015-12-10 13:22
The people I meet who even watch TV are so fucking dumb. They believe you just blow up shit or the good guys always win
 
 
-3 # RnR 2015-12-10 15:11
the 2 of you should share your opinions, you can start with Neil deGrasse Tyson for one you're both so above the norm.

have a nice day
 
 
+31 # sfreeman 2015-12-10 15:20
Taibbi's characterizatio n of Trump is right on the mark. This guy is extremely shallow, simplistic, uneducated, fundamentally ignorant. He is an extremely aggressive businessman, which helps explain why he repeatedly goes from billionaire to bankrupt to billionaire again. If you listen to one of Trump's speeches, none of them are coherent, primarily because he is too busy interrupting himself to develop any kind of coherent analysis, explanation, argument. Before our brains were turned to oatmeal by tv, we would have said, as with another profoundly unintelligent President, he got his "facts" from comic books--sorry, Ronnie, once an ICBM is launched, it cannot be "recalled". We think, because Trump is rich, he must be intelligent. But there is no necessary reason to believe, just because a person is rich, they are intelligent. Sometimes a person gets rich simply because of being in the right place at the right time. Conversely, a lot of extremely intelligent people never get rich because they never are in that right place at that right time. They may, and probably do well for themselves; but they never quite "capture lightening in a bottle". Trump is not stupid, but saying he is not stupid does not mean he is "smart", or even particularly intelligent. He clearly knows very little, which makes him profoundly ignorant. The fact he does not realize he is a profoundly ignorant person indicates, while not stupid, Trump is an unintelligent person--a rung or two up from stupid.
 
 
+90 # danireland46 2015-12-10 10:31
"Trump represents something of a quandary for the media, especially TV networks. Privately, TV news producers acknowledge that Trump has turbocharged their ratings…"

This is the essence of the problem: ever since the News Departments were swallowed by the entertainment departments, News became subject to Ratings. "If t bleeds, it leads", and Trump, the human train wreck, is bleeding all over the networks. Profit destroyed the 4th estate.
 
 
+49 # RMDC 2015-12-10 10:41
The mass media loves Trump. he is the political equivalent of a huge car crash on the freeway. "If it bleeds, it leads." Trump provides the blood and guts needed to make the usually boring subject of politics exciting to watch. And Trump provides a great and entertaining distraction from the real news that should be reported. Trump has nearly no understanding of events in the US or in the world. He is just standard issue trash talker. but the captures a lot of interest.

If Trump did not exist, the cynical media in the US would have to create someone just like him. Trump is a gift from God to the American mass media.

It is a bit of fun watching the republican party squirm like a half squashed worm.
 
 
+1 # TwainPatriot 2015-12-12 01:01
Perhaps we could say the cynical media is the US DID create Trump. They certainly created the roadway where the Presidential clowncar travels.
 
 
+49 # bbaldwin2001 2015-12-10 10:59
"Its to late to turn off Trump". Hogwash. If the news media would quit filling every one of its programs with the antics of this moron, he would fade away. The man is an ego maniac thinking he is doing no wrong. He is egomaniac and quite happy with all of the attention he is getting. He will destroy the Republican party if he pulls out(which I hope he does) and then the democratic party will win. I would love to see Berney Sanders in the White House.... more intelligence than any of the candidates on both sides.
 
 
+13 # sfreeman 2015-12-10 15:27
Goumashi makes very important points. IF we are to be a democracy (and RiverPacific and bmiluski are absolutely in pointing out the U.S. is not a democracy) we must have freedom of speech, which means the media cannot muzzle any candidate for office because the candidate's rhetoric is offensive. HOWEVER, that does not and should not mean any candidate, especially an egomaniac like Trump should be given "wall to wall" coverage. He rightfully can and perhaps should be relegated to no more time than his opponents are getting and/or his opponents should be getting more coverage than they are. That ALSO MEANS Sanders and O'Malley should be getting as much press coverage as Hillary, in which case her extremely dishonest campaign would tank, precisely as it should.
 
 
+23 # 179bennettave 2015-12-10 11:00
Trump knows the " medium is the message ". He has mastered TV which allows him to use the immediate impact of his statements to manipulate his audience. For Trump, whatever is most sensational rules the moment. Actual facts are irrelevant. Endless TV commercials, idiotic reality shows and violent movies have destroyed the capacity for critical thinking.
 
 
+60 # Emmanuel Goldstein 2015-12-10 11:02
This eloquent and insightful analysis, so typical of Matt Taibbi's writing, reminds me of Neil Postman's classic 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, subtitled Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. "We are now a culture," Postman says, "whose information, ideas, and epistemology are given form by television, not by the printed word." He goes on to say that "Thinking does not play well on television" and that "Television is our culture's principal mode of knowing about itself."
Donald Trump is the epitome of what Postman is talking about -- the TV-savvy pitchman who may know nothing about the world but does know how to entertain. And that's what makes him so effective and so dangerous.
In the foreword to his book, Postman compares Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World: "Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think."
Postman, writing more than 30 years ago, predicted that Huxley's vision would prevail. Donald Trump's ascension bears him out.
 
 
-11 # bmiluski 2015-12-10 13:43
This may be insightful ...yet....here he is giving trump "print time".
 
 
+9 # sfreeman 2015-12-10 15:33
YES, your analysis is almost flawless. However, as with 179bennettave, I think you give Trump too much credit. He has not really mastered tv so much as, just as Taibbi says, Trump mirrors tv. He is not savvy at all; he just seems to be savvy because he is an almost perfect animated tv series. He has mastered egomania and bombast; that is all. Well, okay, though I have no factual information and am only speculating, I presume he has mastered being potty trained; although I suppose it is possible he simply wears Depends.
 
 
+37 # Jim Rocket 2015-12-10 11:03
When are we going to start talking about mental health issues like narcissism, megalomania and psychopathy. Trump...and many others in the news...would be a lot easier to understand if society had a serious dialogue about this.
 
 
+23 # bardphile 2015-12-10 11:34
Yeah, the guy's clinically sick, and there's something deeply pathological about a society, and an economic system, that rewards narci-mega-path ology to positions of power over the rest of us.
 
 
-36 # jtatu 2015-12-10 14:19
"Narcissism, megalomania and psychopathy" describe Trump but also our current President.
 
 
+15 # bmiluski 2015-12-10 15:08
Oh yeah, that's right jtatu. President Obama wants to round up 11 million "Mexicans" and deport them. President Obama screamed that he saw thousands of Muslims in NJ celebrating the 9/11 tragedy....
Yeah, better check your bong. And go clean your room.
 
 
-15 # jtatu 2015-12-10 15:23
Narcissists and egomaniacs don't have to agree on policy etc. These two certainly don't and nothing I said implies that they do. Better you check your bong since you don't seem capable of intelligent communication.
 
 
+16 # Jim Rocket 2015-12-10 15:25
I think you're way off, there. Sure Obama has a big ego - it's pretty much a requirement for running for high office. I disagree with Obama on several things and I'm disappointed by Obama but I've never once thought he was unhinged in anyway.
 
 
+2 # reiverpacific 2015-12-13 12:50
Quoting Jim Rocket:
I think you're way off, there. Sure Obama has a big ego - it's pretty much a requirement for running for high office. I disagree with Obama on several things and I'm disappointed by Obama but I've never once thought he was unhinged in anyway.


Actually, as a "Furriner", I consider Obama relatively humble, with a good, sometimes self-deprecatin g sense of humor, especially when you consider what's gone before him (Clinton's seemingly sunny disposition was the velvet glove over the steel-clad fist, especially if you were poor; (let's pass quickly over Dimwits/Torquem ada Cheney's ghoulish crowd)
I never expected anything but a slightly right-center Pre's and Ob' isn't perfect -who is-? but I'd never consider putting him in the "Narcissist-ego maniac" category by a long shot and he's from a multi-cultural background, well-educated and worldly wise. A nice change from an incurious ignoramus and his hubristic, arrogant, head-in-the-san d dehumanizing cabal of chicken hawks, neo-cowards and war criminals.
 
 
-21 # sfreeman 2015-12-10 15:36
If you think that, you have a tremendous mental deficiency, and I must ask you what you are using for brains--cause it sure ain't brains.
 
 
+3 # bmiluski 2015-12-11 12:12
Please sfreeman, go back to your right wing site.
 
 
+20 # rich black 2015-12-10 11:05
"How do we keep getting the great ratings without helping elect the Fourth Reich?"

All they care about are ratings. Ratings mean ad revenue. Just think of the great ratings they will get if the Fourth Reich Fehrer is elected.

Anyway, the two things that motivate people are feed and greed. And a greedy Trump knows that his lemmings are most motivated by fear, just like the time they thought that Obama was going to kill off gun sales (after he won his second election), and they went out and bought firearms in mass, much like they are doing again, today.

With 73% of Americans living from paycheck to paycheck, and with student loans topping a trillion dollars, and auto loans (for the first time in history) topping a trillion dollars, and with ACA insurance costs expected to double over the next two years, the last thing these idiots ought to be fearing is getting whacked by a Muslim. Consequently, the last things they need to be spending on, with the money they don't, are guns These ignorant lemmings are easily manipulated by the oligarch-owned media, and Trump plays the media like Keith Moon played the drums.

However, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said that he would be happy with either a Bush or Clinton Presidency, and one way or another, Lloyd Blankfien seems to be able to control the people, with the power, to make him happy and to keep him happy.
 
 
+33 # Larry 2015-12-10 11:08
It is no surprise that in a party built on greed, bigotry, fear and simplistic, black/white solutions, a demagogue who shouts the loudest and meanest will rise to the top.

Donald Trump makes Herman Cain look like an intellectual. He has now gone totally mad from inhaling the toxic fumes of his hyper-narcissis m and megalomania, from the media attention he receives, and by his obsession with the idea that he could actually be elected president.

Tragically, rather than dismiss Trump as the demented Mussolini wanna-be that he is, our AD-HD news-tainment industry obediently enables him with an endless parade of TV guest spots and obsessive coverage of his every insane, repulsive utterance.

I agree with Matt Tabbi. We can't make Trump disappear, and we can't turn off the greed of TV networks, which profit handsomely when their Trump-driven ratings increase. We can only hope that this dangerous man somehow doesn't get the GOP nomination, and that, not having been "treated with [the] "respect" to which he is entitled, he runs as an independent, splitting the "conservative" vote so that the Democratic nominee is elected.
 
 
+5 # bmiluski 2015-12-11 12:14
I wonder Larry....I wonder if Trump's behavior is manufactured so that Ted Cruz will look sane enough to vote for?
 
 
+2 # ProfT 2015-12-10 11:12
Oh....somebody will figure out a way to stop him, sooner or later; plenty of time left.
 
 
+3 # bardphile 2015-12-10 11:36
Here's hoping.
 
 
+6 # sfreeman 2015-12-10 15:39
Yeah, that's what was said about Hitler.
 
 
+23 # Jayceecool 2015-12-10 11:17
That raven-black bird of hatred and ignorance has come back to haunt the Republican Party...
 
 
+13 # Jim Rocket 2015-12-10 14:09
They've been cultivating that for years and now the Donald is harvesting their crop.
 
 
+8 # Patricia J 2015-12-10 11:51
Trump's comments incite violence. If there is not already a law against that, perhaps we can pass one !
 
 
+6 # GaryBS 2015-12-10 12:10
Matt: I havent had time to read the other comments, but want to point out that Trump either just nominated or as President would be the most lucrative media sensation in modern times, and what's more important than that?!
 
 
+10 # maverita 2015-12-10 12:14
My hero is Trevor Noah, who is willing to take the monster on with an impish grin. REMEMBER -- Trump wants to bang his daughter. View the riff on (i think) Tuesday night's Daily Show and post it all over the internet. LMAO! and I needed a good laugh. Shows the deep creepiness of his style of narcissism. he states that he "created" Ivana. Oy vey.
 
 
+9 # mdj777 2015-12-10 13:24
Playing pretend was fine as a child. But upon adulthood we supposedly put away childish things.

"Did not."

"Did so."

"Did not."

"Did so."

"Did not."

"Did so."

Oh, pardon me. That was not stimulating playground conversation, it was a debate between a major party's presidential candidates.

So, now some pretend not to know what a republic is. And they pretend not to know how a republic is maintained. 'Tis such a mystery. But according to the Preamble, the American Republic exists to, among other things, "promote the general welfare." But, apparently, it is better to stay in the sandbox.
 
 
+14 # wwway 2015-12-10 13:30
Someone mentioned Neil Postman's book Amusing Ourselves to Death. Written 20 years ago his observations and arguments have come to reality and full consequence.
The media isn't liberal as the right wing nut cases argue. It's conservative owned. Advertisers also dictate what is newsworthy. Much has been spent on researching how dumb the public is and now unsophisticated the public taste is for everything from entertainment to news.
I think that Jack London had the best observation of American character in this regard. In 1907 his novel, THE IRON HEEL (first dystopian novel) he described how the rich and the church control the message and concludes that the onus for democracy lies with the people who are obliged to question the message and the messenger. London used the 1900 Census to support his arguments in footnotes. Every American worth his citizenship must read this novel. 1907 or 2015, the environment is the same.
 
 
+5 # Sweet Pea 2015-12-10 13:38
Donald Trump being President would be my worst nightmare. What is also very scary is the fact that there are half-way-intell igent people who think that he would make our government better.
 
 
+7 # newell 2015-12-10 13:42
again, why are liberals dissing trump. we all get he's bonkers--but we want him to be the repub. candidate------ ----don't we? or would we rather have rubio? the democrat would win easily with coat tails pulling the senate--maybe the house. it is why the repub. party is now, really scared of trump. (the voter turnout against trump would be "HUGE".) the repubs have always been better at this game than we are--they always play down their most feared opponent.
 
 
+1 # janie1893 2015-12-10 14:18
NO TRUMP! NO TRUMP! NO TRUMP! NO TRUMP!
 
 
+17 # FIRSTNORN1 2015-12-10 14:20
quoting guomashi:

"How to change that? I suggest if Trump's anti muslim comments invoke so much hatred, rage and violence the solution is in teaching comparative religion from nursery school through high school. He can only feed on ignorance we have created with poor educational policies."

Absolutely correct - and the Rupugs are the last people on earth to want a better educated public. Their very existence as a political party depends on having a "dumbed-down" public.
 
 
+2 # Nominae 2015-12-10 16:44
Quoting FIRSTNORN1:
quoting guomashi:

"How to change that? I suggest if Trump's anti muslim comments invoke so much hatred, rage and violence the solution is in teaching comparative religion from nursery school through high school. He can only feed on ignorance we have created with poor educational policies."

Absolutely correct - and the Rupugs are the last people on earth to want a better educated public. Their very existence as a political party depends on having a "dumbed-down" public.


Great comment, FIRSTNORN1.
Kudos, and thanks for the above !
 
 
+4 # Robbee 2015-12-10 14:39
Quoting newell:
again, why are liberals dissing trump. we all get he's bonkers--but we want him to be the repub. candidate----------don't we? or would we rather have rubio? the democrat would win easily with coat tails pulling the senate--maybe the house. it is why the repub. party is now, really scared of trump. (the voter turnout against trump would be "HUGE".) the repubs have always been better at this game than we are--they always play down their most feared opponent.


- indeed! - and another thing - rump can quiet hill supports who will claim bernie can't win

also note that liberal media is a myth created by neocons, who can't get enough of fox's blizzard of disinformation - or as says - # wrknight 2015-12-10 13:09
Quoting Pops07:

If Trump gains the White House, it will be the liberal media who put him there.

What planet did you say you were from?

- as a dominant-indust ry-wide feature neocons portray it, there is no liberal media!
 
 
+7 # Robbee 2015-12-10 14:51
note, for instance, that zomblican prez candidates attack obama on everything EXCEPT tpp and ttip - our so-called "liberal main stream media" asks zomblican prez candidates NO QUESTIONS about tpp or ttip during debates, or otherwise! why is that? - either this is cover-up by our so-called "liberal main stream media” - or else it simply does not exist!
 
 
+9 # Nonna 2015-12-10 15:39
Has anyone other than myself seen a similarity between the style and content of Trump's bombastic and outrageously myopic rhetoric to that of Adolf Hitler in the 30s? He was a "strong" and " straightforward " speaker, too, eh, what?
 
 
+5 # Robbee 2015-12-10 16:48
to my understanding hitler harangued huge stadiums filled with enormous crowds, radio broadcast throughout germany for hours - his unusual flourish was long, long rhetorical questions - that lead rapt multitudes to answer - yes! it's jews holding our great natio backn from living out its great destiny of world domination

he employed "brownshirts", militias, to break windows and beat-up jews and other political opponents

rump appears to be headed in hitler's direction
 
 
+5 # Old4Poor 2015-12-11 00:17
Trump is and always has been The Ugly American personified.
 
 
0 # TwainPatriot 2015-12-12 01:23
The Ugly American title character of the book so titled, was , in fact, a very helpful Peace Corp type worker in sub Saharan Africa. The term came to be used, mistakenly, to refer to self-aggrandizi ng people (far less obnoxious than D. Trump), who were NOT helpful and described in the book in contrast to the helpful, but ugly worker. I have long felt it did the book, which praised the work of a good (but ugly) person, a disservice to use the name in this mistaken way. The title is saying,"Pretty is as pretty does." and many (non)readers have readily taken it too literally. Whew! Get it?
 
 
+3 # Anonymot 2015-12-11 09:59
"It's too late to turn off Trump."

It may also be too late to turn off the Democrat' equivalent - Clinton.
 
 
0 # PABLO DIABLO 2015-12-11 19:24
Time for the Supreme Court to step in and "select" Trump to be sure Reagan, Bush, Clinton, W.Bush, Obama policies as President are continued until they work.
"our" government has served the interests of people with money since day one. A few people make money off of war so they can buy politicians who promote war.
"Greed is good" --- Ronald Reagan.
WAKE UP AMERICA. A huge military build up, more than "daily" mass shootings = a sign of a declining empire
 
 
+3 # diamondmarge7 2015-12-13 08:35
Interesting that more people have commented on this story than any story on BERNIE SANDERS. Wake up, people! Stop wasting energy on this fascist. Instead, take the pledge to write in BERNIE SANDERS if the neo-Nazi Debbie Wasserman Schultz succeeds in forcing SlickWillieShil lary down our Progressive throats. I will not vote for HRC no matter what; how about you? Go to www.citizensagainstplutocracy.org and take the pledge to write in BERNIE's name. Long before November 2016, there's much to do to promote BERNIE. The MSM is determined to ignore the only adult in the race! Please help elect BERNIE. Give what u can; volunteer, talk up BERNIE. It's your own life u will be saving; your own democracy, too.
 

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