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Donald Trump is an Example of How Relying On TV for Your Main Source of Information Will Rot Your Mind

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... 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.

Matt Taibbi

Illustration by DonkeyHotey
Illustration by DonkeyHotey

It's Too Late to Turn Off Trump: We can't change the channel on the culture he's exposed

By
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.

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.")

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