For Donald Trump, Hogging the Media Spotlight Equals Victory

For Donald Trump, the Media Spotlight
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Politicians campaign to win votes and collect contributions. So somebody who is unfettered by either of those concerns represents a bit of a wild card – and a reason why Donald Trump is sucking oxygen out of the Republican presidential race.

Although almost nobody in elite political or media circles wants to take the wealthy host of “The Apprentice” seriously as a candidate, his blunt talk and colorful style make him positively catnip for both the media and latenight comedians, who have barely been able to contain their glee since his entry into the process. And because Trump’s primary goal seems to be garnering attention – something he has historically been quite good at – he can say and do the kind of things that become virtually impossible to ignore.

So while more traditional politicians jockey to break out of the crowded GOP pack, they find themselves vying for coverage with Trump, who kicked off his campaign with inflammatory remarks about Mexican immigrants that turned into a multi-day feeding frenzy, prompting Univision to drop its telecast of the Trump-backed Miss USA Pageant and the mogul threatening a retaliatory lawsuit. Top that, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Indeed, almost everything about Trump’s forays into politics since President Obama’s election have been infused with an apparent desire to generate maximum exposure, from his embrace of “birtherism,” attempting to prove Obama was not actually born in the United States; to bouts of childish name-calling directed at the likes, recently, of syndicated columnist/Fox News analyst Charles Krauthammer, who dared to laugh off his presidential bid.

For all the derision hurled at him, Trump’s media affiliations remained firmly in place until he declared his candidacy. At that point, NBC felt compelled to sideline “The Apprentice” and Fox News Channel dropped him as a regular “Fox & Friends” contributor.

Conservative pundits like Krauthammer and Karl Rove can dismiss Trump as a clown, but as long as the media keeps lapping up his act, it’s pretty clear who’s having the last laugh. (Speaking of laughs, who else among the GOP contenders can cite being subjected to a Comedy Central Roast on his resume?)

The question now for Republicans is how long Trump will stay in the race, and how much damage he might potentially inflict in the name of gratifying his ego. In a devastatingly pointed National Review column, Kevin D. Williamson lumped Trump into the category of “reality-television freak,” saying that despite his business credentials, “he has a lot more in common with Paris Hilton than with Henry Ford.”

At the risk of being the bearer of bad news to those eager to see him go away, people also mock the Kardashians, who, like Trump, feed off their coverage and enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the media. And guess what? It’s done nothing to knock them out of the headlines – in the same way such criticism is unlikely to drive Trump, who gives the impression of relishing such combat, out of the field.

“I’m in it to win it,” Trump told Jake Tapper, the new host of CNN’s “State of the Union,” in an interview televised Sunday. Trump also pointed out that he was “giving up a primetime television show” to pursue the White House, although strictly in terms of media exposure, that would seem to be more than a fair tradeoff.

Even with his ascent in recent polls, one suspects “winning,” in the conventional sense, isn’t going to happen. But Trump’s definition of victory might not be quite the same as other candidates. In fact, the only real loss he could suffer would be if people stopped talking and writing about him — having demonstrated, time and again, that he sees commanding the spotlight as its own reward.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 18

Leave a Reply

18 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. pegasus0069 says:

    JEALOUSY FROM EVERYBODY…HE WOULD MAKE THE BEST PRESIDENT SINCE THE CAVE MAN…..!#!!!!!!!

  2. Carter Braxton says:

    Clearly Mr. Trump has many on-the-run and most candidates running for cover. The media makes fun of him and the GOP scorns his ideals. But the average American will have he say-so on this one. If Mr. Trump continues on his path, he will undoubtedly give Hillary a run for her money when they are he surviving candidates for the next President. I will vote for Mr. Trump because he is right in what he says, like it or not. And he knows how to get done what he says. We need those things to get done. Like Mr. Trump, I am so tired of hearing the wish-wash rhetoric of all other candidates. Go for it, Donald !

    • Sal U. Lloyd says:

      Hill doesn’t have his money, but is a more than little bit more saavy. This clown probably hasn’t read a book a while.

  3. Jim says:

    You forgot to mention, like Reagan, Trump has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

  4. Jack Tor s says:

    I have to say I like the idea of having someone so rich for president that he can’t be bought by lobbyists or special interest groups. He may not be the most polished candidate but I do think that should he actually win the presidency, he’s smart enough to surround himself with smarter people to help him run the country. You don’t make 9 billion dollars all by yourself, do you? His team is a well oiled machine. If the election was tomorrow, I’d vote for him.

  5. Hank says:

    The two worst presidential candidates I have seen in my lifetime are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The worst ACTUAL president has been Barack Obama, who is only slightly worst than George Bush.

    • David Benjamin says:

      Why? Bcuz he’s black? Could you please tell us exactly what Obama has done that is so egregious to you Conservatives..other than the obvious dim bulb excuses?

    • David Benjamin says:

      Spoken like a typical anti-Obama supporter. Look at his track record of all his accomplishments..then look at Dubya. How in the HELL has he not ended up in prison? Talk about your walking jokes of a political career.

    • Sal U. Lloyd says:

      Dub Ya wasn’t bad?

  6. Beanzy James says:

    Donald Trump speaks the truth… He will make a strong leader for America and he’s got the resume to back it up.. I love the fact that he respects and loves our military and vets. I like the fact that he is intelligent enough to know that a lot of other country’s are making a laughingstock out of our country because the leaders we have had are weak and uneducated to no how to negotiate for this country and stand up for America. Country’s are taking advantage of us in many ways and he knows it, we all know it. Our jobs are gone we need them back from these other country’s or we are doomed. The borders do bring unfavorable people over and they are crossing them illegally, why would we want this.. We should not want this. People that want to come to America for a better life should come here legally not illegally… His message is loud and clear!!! I want a strong natural leader for president.. not a normal go with flow politician like Clinton or Bush. Clinton lye’s and she has been called out on it and it’s catching up with her, if you want the same that Obama has given us the last 8 years then you will love her.. But… for many of us we want Donald Trump for our next great leader of America…

    • Sal U. Lloyd says:

      He’s not even half as smart as that other millionaire Perot was when he ran.

      • David Benjamin says:

        And he was bat-shit crazy! Donald Trump is a joke! That’s it. Nothing more to say. If he’s all your putting your political hopes and dreams on..what are you going to do when he drops out?

  7. Matt says:

    If you stop covering his stupidity he will have no choice but to go away, just like that lady from Alaska.

  8. Alex says:

    He knows how to draw attention to himself, plus he’s pissing off people Republicans don’t like.

  9. Gary In Seattle says:

    Then stop writing about him, please!

More TV News from Variety

Loading