Saturday, May 07, 2016


In The New York Times, Patrick Healy and Jonathan Martin assess how we got to this Trump moment -- and go a wee bit overboard blaming it all on new media:
Mr. Trump’s arsenal was far more fearsome. Combining modern-day fame and an age-old demagogy, he bypassed the ossified gatekeepers and appealed directly to voters through a constant Twitter stream that seemed interrupted only by television appearances.

In doing so, he seemed to grasp that a new twist on direct democracy was in the offing: that disaffected voters who tune out the traditional modes of political communication might be reachable through their smartphones, and Twitter messages or Reddits might be more relevant to those voters than the findings of a more scientific poll.
Look, I know that people who work for the old media are constantly looking over their shoulders in anticipation of dying in the digital apocalypse, but really, folks -- Donald Trump didn't win the Republican nomination because of tweets, or at least not just because of tweets, with an occasional TV interview a secondary means of messaging. Remember, he's been tweeting this way since 2009, and yet when he entered the race in mid-summer 2015 he had a 65% unfavorable rating among Republicans, according to an ABC/Washington Post poll. Then he made his campaign announcement -- which was on TV -- and in it he told us that undocumented Mexican immigrants are rapists, an assertion that was endlessly discussed on TV. He attacked John McCain and Megyn Kelly and Muslims, all of which happened or was endlessly discussed on TV. And he defended himself in an endless series of interviews, most of them on TV, as well as speeches, many of the shown unedited and uninterrupted on TV.

Clips of these moments spread online, of course, and the tweets and Reddits complemented all this. But Trump's primary means of transmitting his message is TV. In March, the Times reported that Trump had received nearly $1.9 billion in free TV time; that number, as of the end of April, is up to $2.8 billion.

This isn't the only absurd claim about digital technology on Healy and Martin's part. There's also this:
On the left, too, Senator Bernie Sanders has built his own movement with millions of voters, and $210 million in fund-raising, by using online tools as simple as email to seek support.
He fund-raises using email! O, brave new world! Um, Sanders also gets his message across using TV, although in this case it's paid TV: Sanders has now spent $65.8 million on TV and radio advertising, according to Ad Age, more than any other candidate in either party (excluding spending by affiliated super PACs).

I know that print journalists think about digital the way Wile E. Coyote thinks about the Road Runner, but really: TV is where campaigns are made (along with, yes, online donation soliciting, but that's been true for years). If the Internet could elect a president all by itself, we'd have had a President Paul by now, or be on our way to electing one this year.


Arthur Mervyn said...

Maybe my memory is off, but didn't Wile E. Coyote think of Road Runner as a tasty meal? I don't believe print media thinks of digital media in quite the same way.

Also, the captcha thing to verify that I'm not a robot is getting really painful. And is obviously not working (see the first comment).

Victor said...

Wile E. Coyote, like our old-school media, always gets walloped by the newest Acme products, and gets 'hoist by his own petard!

Meanwhile, the free-range Roadrunner, like tRUMP , scampers happily away from every potential disastrous trap.

The difference is, the Roadrunner says "Meep-meep," while "Double-talkin' Donald," says "Me! Me! MEEEEEEE├łEE!!!"

The next 5+ months will feel like 50 years.

Tom Shefchik said...

All Trump supporters should sign up at Trump University. They will get an education on lying, fraud, and cheating. And we all know Trump loves the less educated.