Trump to GOP leaders: Shut up or I’ll go it alone!

image of donald trump as frankenstein's monster
The monster the GOP created is afoot in the land, and the party seems powerless to stop him.
The  presumptive Republican nominee, increasingly unhinged, says party officials are not smart enough


goshawk headerThe Republican Party establishment has not exactly been lining up behind the Donald Trump candidacy. Instead, after efforts to persuade him to tone it down failed, senior GOP leaders have become increasingly vocal in their criticism of their rogue candidate. Trump’s response was to tell them to shut up.

“You know the Republicans, honestly folks, our leaders, our leaders have to get tougher,” Trump said during a rally in Atlanta on Wednesday. “Our leaders have to get a lot tougher. And be quiet. Just please be quiet. Don’t talk. Please be quiet. Just be quiet to the leaders because they have to get tougher, they have to get sharper, they have to get smarter.”

Trump went on to threaten to go it alone. “We have to have our Republicans either stick together or let me just do it by myself. I’ll do very well. I’m going to do very well. OK? I’m going to do very well. A lot of people thought I should do that anyway, but I’ll just do it very nicely by myself,” Trump said,

The roar of the falls grows louder

The Frankenstein monster candidate, an inexorable disaster the GOP created, is afoot on the land, and the party seems helpless to stop him.

With his approval ratings plummeting through the floor, the orange-hued candidate has become increasingly bonkers. He finds himself caught in the mainstream political current; the roar of the proverbial falls grows ever louder and Donald Trump, a prideful egotist if ever there was one, cannot find a face-saving way to escape.

Will the candidate somehow make it to November? At the rate he’s going, the Trump campaign may not even make it past the July 18 Republican Convention – though there is, so far, no evidence of a credible understudy nominee waiting in the wings.

For nearly a year, the Trump on the stump has behaved as if he doesn’t really want to be president. It has seemed more like he is in the game to burnish his brand and his business interests; to show the Republican Party how to run a presidential campaign to rub the GOP’s collective nose in it.

Stephanie Cegielski, a former Trump campaign strategist and the candidate’s communications director, agrees with our September, 2015 assessment. She resigned from the campaign last March after the candidate made one ridiculous boast too many.

In a remarkably frank letter explaining her decision, Cegielski said “Trump never intended to be the candidate. But his pride is too out of control to stop him now. You can give Trump the biggest gift possible if you are a Trump supporter: stop supporting him.”

“He doesn’t want the White House,” Cegielski continued. “He just wants to be able to say that he could have run the White House. He’s achieved that already and then some.

“If there is any question, take it from someone who was recruited to help the candidate succeed, and initially very much wanted him to do so.”

Echoes of a dark past
image of Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump gesturing.
When it came to whipping his followers into a frenzy, Adolf Hitler never went halfway. Neither does Donald Trump.

Violence became a recurring theme at Trump’s public gatherings. While whipping up the crowd, the candidate would pause and call attention to someone in the audience. Often he would invite his followers to boo a member of the press. In a practice that carried echoes of Berlin 1932, Trump the Weimar Republican would rail against any protesters who dared to show up, and to exhort the crowd to beat them, Brownshirt style, and throw them out.

Trump honed a political strategy that seemed to resemble the behavior of a loose cannon on a rolling deck. He would squash anyone’s toes, mindlessly inflict damage at every turn, speak his nasty, name-calling, unfiltered mind, unhindered by “political correctness” (which is to say, he would exhibit no good manners or any shred of civility) and let the free media publicity carry him along.

Thwarted by success

But a funny thing happened. Like some hapless real-life Max Bialystock, the more Trump the grifter tried to lose the presidential race, the more outrageous his insults became, the more he was inexplicably thwarted by success.

This turn of events so baffled and perplexed Trump that he remarked that he could publicly shoot someone and not lose a single vote.

This must be quite unnerving for him because, for all his boasts and bloviation, Trump must know he’s in over his head. He clearly has no clue what he would actually do if he somehow won the Oval Office.

There are signs his secret political death wish may yet be achieved.

Caught in the news spotlight

Now that the periodic donnybrooks, billed as Republican presidential debates, are done with, the mainstream media has lately found time to examine the underbelly of the Trump beast. We’ve learned of his tax dodging, his serial gaming of the bankruptcy laws, his stiffing of employees and contractors and military veterans, his propensity for litigious bullying, the smoke-and-mirrors nature of his supposed huge fortune, and his vacuous grasp of any issue you care to name.

Not surprisingly, Trump the thin-skinned and possibly dangerous narcissist does not like that sort of news coverage. So he created a Nixon-style Enemies List, banning one media outlet after another from attending his rallies.

Donald Trump’s blacklist

In a desperate effort to regain momentum, Trump has resorted to the tools that served him well in the early stages of his campaign. In a blaze of fiery fear-mongering and over-the-top lies, he redoubled his attacks on Muslims, homosexuals and immigrants. He accused American soldiers in Iraq of stealing “millions and millions of dollars.” He repeated a Right Wing conspiracy peddling website’s fevered claim that President Obama somehow engineered the Orlando nightclub massacre to further a hidden political agenda.

Do the symptoms fit? The Mayo Clinic describes Narcissistic Personality Disorder

It used to be that watching the Donald Trump spectacle unfold was a bit like watching a barn fire: It was completely out of control; riveting in a terrible sort of way, but unlikely to spread far.  No more. Trump has proven he is worthy of the title, bestowed by a European news outlet, as the most dangerous man in the world.

Imagine President Trump leading the world, or the nation, or working with Congress, even if the GOP controls it. The idea is not just preposterous. It is an indictment of our political system that someone so manifestly unfit for public office of any sort could rise to become the presidential candidate of a major political party.

Michael W. Dominowski is the editor of Not For Hire Media.

Lament for the Fairness Doctrine: Why media ignores some stories and overdoes others

image of a newspaper

“Honest, equitable and balanced” used to be requirements for journalism


goshawk headerThe mainstream media didn’t cover this or that story! Why are they ignoring other voices and giving Donald Trump all the attention? And why does Fox News (to pick a particularly egregious example) get away with industrial-scale lying and misleading the public at every turn? There oughta be a law! Well, there once was a law. It was called the Fairness Doctrine, and Ronald Reagan killed it.

Once upon a time the FCC required broadcast media to present issues that were controversial or of great public importance in a manner that was (get this) “honest, equitable and balanced.”

In 1985 the FCC, led by communications attorney and former Reagan campaign staffer Mark S. Fowler, moved to eliminate the Fairness Doctrine, which had served the nation well since it was introduced in 1949.

The Fowlerian FCC claimed all that emphasis on fairness on the publicly owned airwaves somehow hurt the public interest and violated the First Amendment. Never mind that in 1969 the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled unanimously that the Fairness Doctrine did no such thing and was perfectly constitutional.

By 1987, the Fairness Doctrine was history. But it didn’t take that long for the vultures to move in. Sensing the imminent demise of the Fairness Doctrine, the opportunistic media mogul Rupert Murdoch quickly swooped in.

Honesty and fairness are jettisoned

Murdoch, an Australian, had no allegiance to the U.S. Constitution or the American way. Freed from the constraints of honesty and fairness, he lost no time in establishing his Fox empire. By 1986 it was already turning a profit.

Elimination of the Fairness Doctrine gave direct rise to the highly successful Fox News business model – an approach emulated to some extent by other news media, our of what they regard as a matter of existential necessity.

TV newsman Walter Cronkite, left, was known as the most trusted man in America. Aided by the demise of the Fairness Doctrine, Broadcast media has devolved to the likes of Fox News blowhard Bill O'Reilly.
TV newsman Walter Cronkite, left, was known as the most trusted man in America. Aided by the demise of the Fairness Doctrine, Broadcast media has devolved to the likes of Fox News blowhard Bill O’Reilly.

The Fairness Doctrine applied only to broadcast media. It was originally justified by the fact that broadcasters were licensed to use publicly owned radio frequencies – a limited commodity. Without a fairness regulation, the potential for abuse and real mischief proved to be quite high and very real.

With the likes of Fox News making money hand-over-fist by styling itself as the propaganda wing of the political Right and discarding the ethics that traditionally kept the press a watchdog instead of a lap dog, other media companies had no choice but to follow suit to one degree or another.

Civility is shouted down

It quickly became clear that fair and balanced cannot compete with incivility, spectacular and well-coordinated lies, ginned-up divisiveness and manufactured rage.

Two further disruptions sent seismic shock waves across the whole of the Fifth Estate: The rise of cable TV and the Internet, neither of which depends on the public airwaves, put the final stake in the heart of the Fairness Doctrine. The FCC removed the language from its regulations in 2011. So there’s probably no going back.

The Internet had the further disruptive effect of all but killing traditional print media and the journalism it supported.

It used to be that journalists were constantly mindful of their duty. The “press” is specifically mentioned in and protected by the First Amendment. That used to confer a public trust, and awesome responsibility. Nowadays, not so much.

These days media revenues are driven not by the measurable value of an advertisement, but by the abstract value of audience shares and page views.

The news we support determines the news we get

Every page you view, every story you read, indeed every click of your mouse is a vote. Each one is interpreted as an indication of the sort of news you want. When it comes to news content, whatever works will lead to more of the same.

Metrics rule. Stories that do not attract wide attention are less likely to be produced, and reporters whose work does not consistently generate lots of views are likely to find themselves being shown the door.

Thanks in no small part to fast-paced social media, the average news-consumer’s eyes glaze easily and his attention span is reduced to the length of a bumper sticker. This is why important stories get short shrift and a bellowing charlatan like Donald Trump gets outsized attention from the MSM.

Instead of thoughtful pieces on important matters, we get super-size doses of a bloviating Donald Trump. We get Sarah Palin drunkenly producing word salad.  We are presented with an endless menagerie of opinionated windbag talk-show “hosts,” loony conspiracy “theorists,” bogus “news analysts,” congressional “investigations” staged to grab headlines and further a political agenda, and video clips of cute animals.

And why not? After all, nobody wants to read a complicated budget story when they could be watching video of a fistfight. As the song lyric goes, “…crap is king.

The current, lamentable, tenet of news judgment comes down to this: The boss has numbers to make.

Michael W. Dominowski is the editor of Not For Hire Media.