Trump “News” vs Actual News

02/04/2019

There was one headline this week that had people jumping on the chuckle-and-ridicule bandwagon, and that was the ‘revelation’ that Donald Trump, imagine this, cheats at golf. And someone, granted a sportswriter I suppose, took the time to write a book about it to ‘prove’ how the man has cheated and lied religiously his whole life. Is there anyone else out there who, like me, couldn’t care less what he does when playing golf?

This is just one instance of a news story about Trump that is really a nothing story. A detestable man, to be sure, but news about his personal or sporting exploits are irrelevant in comparison to the very real stranglehold he, and more importantly the Republicans, have over the US and the world. One does not need to brush up on the golfing history of a sitting President to understand his capacity for deceit – he is there, right now, displaying exactly that in a setting far more dramatic than a golf course.

Am I saying this book, or the articles about it, should not have been written? Of course not. If the author wishes to write about it, that is fair enough, and if the media want to advertise it, power to them. What I do not like about this scenario is that it is taking away from the real and more troubling events. Yes, people can focus on more than one topic, but relatively meaningless diatribe detracts from legitimate criticisms of the man.

It is essentially a repeat of the Stormy Daniels affair. That he (not for the first, and probably not for the last, time) cheated on his partner of the day and had interactions with a porn star is testament to his character, but ultimately background information. The only important point from that whole saga revolved around a single question: did the Trump campaign illegally use campaign funding as hush money to silence Daniels, yes or no? I couldn’t care less about what said porn star has to say, and I certainly couldn’t give less of a shit about a book written by her. There are matters of importance and substance that should be prioritised, and, without intending offense, I don’t see how Daniels can offer any substance.

Nor do I see much substance in a book about using his golfing habits to describe his deceptive nature. The problem isn’t that these books exist, but that the media tend to overly hype them, even if only for a few days, and it momentarily distracts readers from more significant concerns. We are hearing about how Trump cheats on the course, but where is the outrage of the US ‘recognising’ the Golan Heights region of Syria as Israeli territory? Some light coverage and denunciation and it’s straight back to the personal attacks.

The greatest example of a nonstory is the investigation into collusion with Russia. Yes, Mueller’s report, according to a Trump loyalist at least, has no evidence of collusion after two years. But even if he did (which, as I wrote last week, seems rather likely), so what? The effect Russia would have had on the election outcome is negligible when you compare it to the insane processes and cycles of money rolling through. US elections are predictable merely by tracing the money, and I’m sure $6 billion worth of free advertising from the media, on top of the regular campaign machinery, had a much greater impact than whatever Russia could have scrambled together.

The question then is what was gained if collusion took place? Trump on a personal level might have gotten closer ties with a few oligarchs in Russia, but otherwise there’s nothing concrete. Trump would have won regardless of any foreign interference, and the US’ actions have been anything but beneficial to Russia. Increased hostility, such as intensifying NATO’s presence near the Russian border and dropping out of various treaties like the INF, and a hawkish administration working to combat Russian influence in regions like the Middle East and Latin America, don’t add up to the puppeteer-Putin myth. Trump’s recklessness in some situations may have partly aided Russia in rare cases, but I would put that down to incompetence more than any conspiracy to promote Russia’s interests.

But now the media has people on the edge of dismay and smug arrogance as they speculate about what is in the full report. Either there is collusion, and everyone will pat themselves on the back over a relatively dull story, or there isn’t, and the devasted masses will flock to claim that the other offshoot investigations were always the more serious charges, as if the last two years of collusion accusations just faded away. Indeed, the other investigations are more intriguing, as they may actually lead somewhere, but the mainstream media has previously given them second-rate coverage in contrast to the daily cries of collusion, until recently.

But it is stories like these – collusion, porn stars, golfing – that detract from the immediate consequences of a Trump presidency. Collusion doesn’t matter if dropping out of the INF Treaty accelerates the already revived Cold War mentality. A porn star’s “full disclosure” is irrelevant when serious criminal activity has taken place regarding Trump’s finances. Golfing antics are a very minor example of an incredibly well documented history of falsehoods.

The media has a lot to answer for in terms of how it has reported on Trump, not the least of which being how they direct public discourse towards fluff pieces about personalities rather than stringent analysis of policies. The Washington Post might not like Trump, but I don’t see Bezos complaining about his trillion-dollar empire or the institutions that got him there.

 

Liked this? Read No Collusion? Calm Down the Hype Pt.1

Previous piece: Budgets and Promises – Don’t Buy It

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