What happens next will depend largely on CNN, ABC News, the New York Times, NBC News, The Washington Post and others. They created the horror show that has been election year 2016, and ultimately they will determine whether it ends with the November 8th election or whether our physical and emotional health will remain on the roller coaster for months thereafter.
Donald Trump has repeatedly decried that the election will be ‘rigged’ against him and that he will not accept the election results unless he is the winner. Great sportsmanship, good team player, right? There is no doubt that ‘The Embarrorist’ (nickname courtesy of fellow-blogger Don Massenzio) will do his usual … rant, rave, turn orange in the face, and in general throw a tantrum more worthy of a 2-year-old child than a 70-year-old man. How effective his tantrum will be, however, will depend on how much media attention it receives.
First, the reality. The reality is that there is no need to ‘rig’ the election, there is no probability nor possibility of any widespread voter fraud, and by all accounts Donald Trump will lose the election. Even GOP leaders are convinced that he has no ‘path to 270’. The reality is that Donald Trump is his own worst enemy, his crassness, his vitriol … in general, his mouth … have cost him any chance he had to win the presidency. Equally certain is the fact that he is highly unlikely to concede gracefully and slink quietly back into the dark world of reality television from whence he came.
How far might he be willing to take his rhetoric about a ‘rigged’ election? Well, that is where the media comes into play. The media put Donald Trump where he is today. Donald Trump is a creation of the media. It started out as a joke, but the heads of the networks, the publishers of the print media, all saw an opportunity to make a few bucks … or should I say a few million bucks … and they just couldn’t resist. In the words of Les Moonves, Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Corporation, “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS”.
In the past few weeks, it seems that the media has learned a valuable lesson from their pursuit of profit to the exclusion of all else. Kudos. However, at the end of the day on November 8th, they will once again be faced with a choice, and it remains to be seen whether they will remember their lesson or give in to the temptation to follow the money.
The period between November 8th and January 20th (inauguration day) will be a particular challenge for the major news outlets. Once the election is over they have two and a half months to find something to fill their columns and air-time, to fill a void that was once filled with news of campaign rallies, WikiLeaks, and clowns. Will they, once again start reporting actual news from around the nation, the globe, or will they give in to the easier, more profitable path of following the childish antics of the Embarrorist?
Assuming that he chooses to contest the election results, Donald Trump will have two choices. He can either marshal the necessary strategy and resources for legal challenges in states where the results allow them (more about that in a future post), hire lawyers and file paperwork, or he can throw a tantrum and hope that the media will do the job for him. Based on past experiences, it would seem more likely that he will choose the latter option. Let’s face it … the media saved him millions of dollars in campaign costs by keeping him front-and-center for over a year, at no cost to his campaign. They hung on his every word, reported on his every public appearance, and reported ad nauseam. The louder, more outrageous, the more gold it put in the media coffers. So, if he can save a few million dollars by making his case for an election challenge in the press rather than in the courts, why wouldn’t he?
I blame the media for the fact that Trump has come this far. I am 100% for a free press as called for in the 1st Amendment, but I also hold the press accountable for being responsible in exercising that freedom. However, there is another guilty party here: US. Yes, you heard me right … us. You, me, John Doe down the street. The press aims to provide whatever the people who watch television, read newspapers, and troll the internet want. When a story about Donald Trump generates 5,000 responses from readers while a story about a commuter train crash only generates 20 responses, the press assumes that people prefer more stories about Trump. And they respond accordingly. It is basic Marketing 101 – give the people what they want, and they will come back for more.
I call upon the mainstream media to send Trump into oblivion when he launches his post-election tirade, and I call on all of us to ignore the hoopla, sending a message to the media that we are tired. We are tired of hearing his angry voice first thing every morning and last thing every night. We just do not care anymore. Let us, as citizens, do our duty to act responsibly and with at least a modicum of intelligence. Those who buy into the conspiracy theory of a ‘rigged’ election may do so as they will, but I am hopeful that the majority of us have the good sense to ignore them and not give them the dignity of our attention. Like the two-year-old throwing a temper tantrum, eventually Trump and his mindless minions will run out of steam. Choose wisely, my friends, as the result of your choice will reverberate for years, if not decades into the future.