After reading Erick’s return-to-earth piece comparing the real Trump administration to Trump’s fake White House, I couldn’t help but start questioning what else is fake.
For instance, there’s the entire #FakeNews brouhaha and media war between Trump’s White House and CNN et. al. Is this even real? Does it make any sense? Let’s think about it in terms that put food on the table–by following the money.
Since he first entered the race, “Donald Trump” the name and brand has been nothing but gold-plated money printing presses for the media as a whole.
CBS chief Leslie Moonves told the Hollywood Reporter just under a year ago: “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” The “it” referred to the presidential race, specifically Trump’s takeover of it.
“Man, who would have expected the ride we’re all having right now? … The money’s rolling in and this is fun,” he said.
“I’ve never seen anything like this, and this going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going,” said Moonves.
Last year was a very good year for Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC.
Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC garnered astounding viewership growth in 2016 thanks to the unconventional matchup between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Fox News led all basic cable networks this year, with an average of 2,475,000 viewers in primetime – up 36% from last year. CNN jumped 77% (from 732,000 to 1,298,000), and MSNBC leaped 77% (from 596,000 to 1,113,000).
It seems that politics has become the new sport and entertainment because of Trump. Just like “unscripted” reality shows and competitions replaced most traditional sitcoms and game shows, politics has creeped its way into everything else, led by Trump.
Now that he’s president, every war with Trump is a money bomb for the “fake news” networks and newspapers. The “failing New York Times” is in fact doing better than ever.
But the Times told POLITICO that when factoring in cancellations, it has, since Election Day, added four times the average number of net new digital and print subscriptions, spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said in an email.
Similar bumps have been reported by the Washington Post, and The Atlantic reported a 160 percent increase in post-election subscriptions. Even the normally obscure ProPublica has seen unsurpassed levels of donations.
Logically, news organizations are not charities. They are driven by money. War with Trump is better for business than peace with Trump. It’s also more fun for the reporters who write anti-Trump pieces. It’s also friendlier to liberal editor worldviews to take swings and swipes at Trump.
There’s every reason in the world why the MSM would continue to pursue a war with Trump, and no reason for them to stop. It’s win-win for the media and for the most famous fame-obsessed person on the planet.
Lastly, I think Trump enjoys the sparring. I think he knows it helps the media, business-wise. Certainly, Jeff Zucker appreciates the help (from Mediaite).
Joe Scarborough of Morning Joe surmised Monday morning that it’s clear Trump and CNN President Jeff Zucker are actually “great friends,” despite the harsh rhetoric that the President continues to use against the cable news net. Last week, Trump told CNN’s Jim Acosta directly that the moniker “fake news” — long used to to describe CNN in Trump circles — was being changed to “very fake news.” Trump also joked with Acosta to, “Ask Jeff Zucker how he got his job,” and it is well-known that Zucker and Trump worked closely together at NBC during the early years of The Apprentice.
I’m sure Arnold Schwarzenegger also appreciates the help, though in his case it probably won’t do any good. “The Apprentice” has pretty much played out, despite Trump’s call for prayers and his Twitter war with The Terminator.
In spite of all the hand-wringing about First Amendment rights, a free press, fake news, and Trump’s malapropisms, the entire Tump v. Media war is almost certainly set to be a Pyrrhic victory for whoever ultimately wins (my prediction: a draw), and a win for news organization shareholders.
If Trump really wanted the media to change the way they cover him, he’d rob their pocketbooks. That’s not to say he doesn’t get upset when they say bad things about him. What thin-skinned narcissist wouldn’t? But in the end the media is his best friend, and his enemy. He needs them and they certainly need his brand.
It’s a #FakeWar.
To borrow Mr. Moonves phrase, it may not be good for America, but it’s damn good entertainment.