Trump scrambles media chickens

On the day after Donald Trump announced he was running for president, the headline in the New York Times was: Donald Trump, Pushing Someone Rich, Offers Himself.

Nice. Appropriate. Somewhat mocking.

The lead, under the byline of Alexander Burns, read: “Donald J. Trump, the garrulous real estate developer whose name has adorned apartment buildings, hotels, Trump-brand neckties and Trump-brand steaks, announced on Tuesday his entry into the 2016 presidential race, brandishing his wealth and fame as chief qualifications in an improbable quest for the Republican nomination.”

Garrulous? Precisely.

Repeating the Trump name and attaching it to ties and steaks? Suitably sardonic.

Improbable quest? Sounds about right

The piece goes on for more than 1,000 words, bouncing between straight news reporting and keen analysis: “He has consistently been a passionate believer in Donald Trump, and his own capacity to bully and badger his way into the best possible deal. That skill set, Mr. Trump has argued, would be an asset to America.”

There was a brief mention, far down in the text, of Trump’s moronic reference to Mexican rapists.

Did Burns bury the lead? No. You don’t lead with horseshit from a horse’s ass.

The story appeared on Page 16 – about where it belonged.

Since then, the Times has devoted tens of thousands of words to Trump and put him on the front page five times.

What changed?

Every time Trump opens his yap, it’s breaking news from Iowa to Uranus, with an endless echo on cable news, the Internet, talk shows and comedy shows, the entertainment media and business media, newspapers, magazines and network news.

The Times and others simply surrendered to the noise.

So, is it any wonder the most incorrigible headcase in the GOP psycho ward is leading in the polls?

Does that alone validate giving Trump so much ink and airtime? Evidently.

If Trump is the egg, the media are the chickens.

I worked as a copyboy at the Times in the mid-1960s. In the dusty ether of the old newsroom, I tasted the words of Homer Bigart, McCandlish Phillips and others who initially inspired my career in journalism.

After I took the subway home at night from Times Square, I watched the 11 o’clock news on WCBS and smiled at the commercial message that often followed the broadcast: If you want to learn more about tonight’s stories, pick up the New York Times in the morning.

I liked that. It was true. But it also acknowledged the early incursion of TV as a threat, a competitor.

I moved on from the Times to better jobs in other places.

When I first came to Canada in the early 1970s, I reserved a Sunday Times at a newsstand in Vancouver, then in Montreal and Toronto.

I’ve been reading it online since it became available, and now pay the $20 a month to start my day with the Times.

The subscription allows me to search – and find a David Brooks column from April 2011, when Trump was similarly soaring in the polls.

Brooks aptly described Trump as royalty in the “realm of Upper Blowhardia,” with the likes of George Steinbrenner and Ross Perot.

And tempered his argument against Trump with what appeared obvious – he was unlikely to purchase the lease to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

But here we go again. Different year, same media madness. Please stop aiding and abetting.

Is there no one in a media boardroom with the sense to say: Enough! Or is news value gauged only by clicks and the ability to shock, whether it’s Trump, Ebola, shark attacks or ISIS?

Must the news trucks roll every time a deranged billionaire pisses in the bushes.

It’s not like Trump is doing anything. He’s just regurgitating the same bilge we’ve heard from him for decades.

What happened to the new in news?

Here are a couple of quotes to consider:

  • “There is no one on the world stage who can compete with me.”
  • “I don’t need to go into office for the power. I have houses all over the world, stupendous boats … beautiful airplanes, a beautiful wife, a beautiful family… I am making a sacrifice.”

Sure sounds like Trump. But it’s Silvio Berlusconi, who reigned for nine years as prime minister of Italy.

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