It is all a Show for Trump

He is actually tweeting about ratings.

President Donald J. Trump listens to a reporter's question during the coronavirus (COVID-19) update briefing Sunday, March 22, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)
President Donald J. Trump listens to a reporter’s question during the coronavirus (COVID-19) update briefing Sunday, March 22, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

I made a snarky comment in a post this morning comparing Trump’s daily press conferences to Aló Preisdente. And then a few minutes ago I see this:

First, I thought that the NYT was fake news, but it is hard to keep track.

Second, ratings? Seriously? This is the wrong frame in so many ways to the point of being grotesque.

Third, we are in a time of national crisis and the nation turns its eyes to the federal government and most of the TV networks cover the event live. Of course a lot of people watch.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, COVID-19, Donald Trump, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    For what it’s worth, I didn’t take your Alo Presidente remark as at all snarky. It was God’s truth. None of this means anything to Trump except in terms of his own aggrandizement.

    9
  2. @gVOR08: Snark is often truth. 😉

    5
  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    Trump is literally (and I mean literally, literally) not able to care about anyone but himself. You might as well expect a blind man to paint Starry Night or a quadriplegic to do jumping jacks. He’s a psychopath, a malignant narcissist, and a stupid one. A smart psychopath would know how to fake empathy.

    36
  4. Jay L Gischer says:

    And yet this man got 60 million votes. I don’t know that I’m ever going to understand that. Even before the election, he pinged my “massive huckster” radar. But 60 million thought he was the most “authentic” and “truthful”. What is up with that?

    18
  5. Mister Bluster says:

    @Jay L Gischer:..What is up with that?

    From 1973 for 35 years I traveled back and forth across the country climbing telephone poles to ply my trade working in the land line telephone industry. I worked in at least 14 states that I remember. From small villages like Clarence, Missouri and Buncome, Illinois to great metropolises like Houston and Chicago.
    My short take…This Land is Your Land…if you are white.

    12
  6. Scott says:

    High ratings even without the benefit of sick and dead people being surveyed by Nielsen.

    7
  7. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Mister Bluster: Ok, but I’m white. How does one explain me?

    This gets me to thinking: Trump seems to be really good at figuring out what lies his audience wants to hear. He gets their willing participation in his false reality. (By the way, Steve Jobs was also really good at this.) He’s so good he’s got me wondering what lies do people think *I* want to hear? What lies or narratives are they pushing in order to make money for them?

    I think that this a very personal question, that I’ll let people answer for themselves. For many, one of the big ones is “white people are better”, which they conceptualize more as “my people are better”, and “my home is better”.

    1
  8. sam says:

    This is what’s up with that:

    And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: –Behold! human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.

    I see.
    And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.

    You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.
    Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?

    True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?

    And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows?

    Yes, he said.
    And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them?

    Very true.
    And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow?

    No question, he replied.
    To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.

    4
  9. CSK says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    Well, it shows you how many people are capable of being conned. Trump is their hero, their savior, their knight in shining armor.

    5
  10. An Interested Party says:

    The most insecure smallest little man ever to be president…what a pathetic excuse for a supposed human being…it takes a lot to make, say, James Buchanan look good by comparison…

    7
  11. senyordave says:

    The only positive thing about his response is this:
    If he actually had been presidential, appointed top people and listened to them, and occasionally addressed the nation with gravitas and mouthed the usual “we have to stay strong and we will pull through these tough times together”, I think he would have been almost impossible to beat in November. Instead he acted as bad as ever, if not worse. can you imagine how incredibly petty you would have to be to call a governor “half wit” during what is arguable the worst crisis since WW2?
    I saw a survey that showed most European leaders are getting 10+ point increases in approval ratings, Trump is getting about 5 points. And I think his won’t last, since when the campaign begins they can start the timeline ads in full. I did not realize that Trump was first briefed on DEC 22nd about the seriousness of the virus. He did nothing for more than two months!

    6
  12. Daniel Hill says:

    @Jay L Gischer: says something about Trump that he could run such a successful con, but it also speaks volumes about the character of those 60 million people.

    7
  13. Kingdaddy says:

    Not ratings, but “Ratings.” It’s the weird use of capitalization and quotation marks that you see from the barely literate.

    Our popular culture is full of cautionary tales about people like Trump. For example, what happens when all you care about is ratings? You turn into a monstrous creature, such as the title character in Peter Gabriel’s song “The Barry Williams Show.” If you listen carefully to that song, you’ll get a cold chill down your spine about the moral cesspool where the repeated phrase, “What a show,” might take you, if that’s what you value.

    Unfortunately, not everyone listens to the lyrics of songs. Some people do. Others just like the sound of the music, or particular stand-out phrases. (See, for instance, the 1984 Reagan campaign’s idiotic attempt to use Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” as background music for Reagan’s campaign appearances.) The song, for them, is a sequence of pleasing or engaging sounds. The fact that there are depths of meaning in the words that go unnoticed isn’t a problem for them. That’s just how they listen to songs.

    For a lot of Trump’s followers, I suspect, politics is just a sequence of pleasing or engaging sounds. No further depth required, in their minds.

    15
  14. Teve says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Trump seems to be really good at figuring out what lies his audience wants to hear. He gets their willing participation in his false reality. (By the way, Steve Jobs was also really good at this.)

    I had heard about the vaunted reality distortion field that Jobs supposedly had, and read dozens of articles about him, interviews with him and even that enormous Walter Isaacson biography.

    Sadly, I now know what it is.

    The “reality distortion field” is just that you straight up brazenly lie to people with something they want to hear. You find something that people really want to believe, and then you just lie to their face and tell them it’s true, over and over and over and never stop.

    That’s it. That’s the magical ‘RDF’.

    4
  15. al Ameda says:

    It REALLY IS all a show for Trump, and we’ve seen this show too much.

    We learned something about how Trump would respond to a ‘natural’ disaster when Puerto Rico was obliterated two years ago – he showed up, tossed rolls of paper towels to onlookers, and berated Puerto Rican officials for not doing enough, not showing him enough deference.

    Then, again: When the disasterous wildfires raged through California, destroying thousands of homes, killing thousands of people – he showed up and berated California government officials.

    6
  16. Barry says:

    @Jay L Gischer: “And yet this man got 60 million votes. I don’t know that I’m ever going to understand that. Even before the election, he pinged my “massive huckster” radar. But 60 million thought he was the most “authentic” and “truthful”. What is up with that?”

    There’s a classic phrase from a Trump-supporting woman who was worse off after 2016. She didn’t say that Trump had violated his promises to make her life better; she said ‘He’s not hurting the people he promised he would’.

    They assumed that he’d f*ck people over, and for some reason that they wouldn’t be among those people.

    9
  17. Barry says:

    @Jay L Gischer: “Ok, but I’m white. How does one explain me?”

    Among white people, you are in the minority. As I am.

    4
  18. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Barry: Thank you, I really appreciate it.

    And, I’m actually trying to understand a phenomenon. One thought is this the the result of network effects and cultural transmission, which works, ahem, a lot like disease transmission does. Our social networks have been disrupted pretty strongly over the last 20 years, not to mention the last 20 days.

    Or maybe the influence of broadcast media, where everyone watched the same thing on TV, which was subject to the Fairness Doctrine, etc, was a one-0ff? That was the disruption, we’re now going back to normal?

    2
  19. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Right here in River City Did you ever see the Music Man? If Tiny hadn’t been born to money, he’d likely be in jail now.

    4
  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    White Evangelical Christianity has always been about contempt and revenge. Contempt for the ‘other’ and a deep desire to see Jesus slaughter all those ‘others.’ ‘Other’ to include racial and religious minorities, people in cities, people with educations, people different than themselves. The anticipation of torture and death, fire and brimstone, is central to Evangelical Christianity.

    It’s taken them 2000 years to figure out that Jesus wasn’t coming back to kill, kill, kill, so they switched allegiances to Trump who has done all he can to hurt the other. Evangelicals love that Trump is throttling aid to New York City, that’s why they elected him: to hurt all the people they don’t like, and NYC is the home office of people they don’t like.

    The fact – not opinion, fact – that Evangelical Christianity is a death cult has been obvious for a very long time, but we are not allowed to discuss religion in any but reverent tones in this country. So we have to play along with the notion that these Christians are no different from Roman Catholics or Lutherans.

    In the last few years, however, we’ve seen the rise of vocal atheists who’ve been speaking the truth about these people, blaspheming openly, and they don’t like it. They don’t like it at all. It scares them. The casual acceptance of gay marriage and trans bathrooms helped push them over the edge. In their cosmology it simply cannot be that people can prosper while disregarding, even ridiculing their bizarre interpretation of the Bible. They were desperate to lash out. They needed to hurt their enemies, and since Jesus wasn’t getting the job done, they built their tangerine calf and danced around it.

    #Cult45 and white Evangelical Christianity are coterminous. There are of course people filled with hate for reasons not directly related to Christianity, but the bulk of the problem is white Evangelicals. Without them there is no #Cult45.

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  21. @sam: The rating are quite high in the cave.

    Sigh.

    2
  22. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    This gets me to thinking: Trump seems to be really good at figuring out what lies his audience wants to hear.

    Nope. You’re getting causation wrong.

    A lot of people want to hear the lies Trump is saying.

    5
  23. Mister Bluster says:

    @Teve:..You find something that people really want to believe, and then you just lie to their face and tell them it’s true, over and over and over and never stop.

    If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.
    Joseph Goebbels

    “I said, ‘You know, that is getting tired. Why are you doing this? You’re doing it over and over. It’s boring and it’s time to end that,'” Stahl said on stage alongside “PBS Newshour anchor Judy Woodruff.
    “He (Trump) said, ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.’ He said that,” Stahl told the audience, adding, “So, put that in your head for a minute.”
    Source

    Never forget that the American Nazi Party and the Ku Klux Klan support Donald Trump.

    7
  24. Jc says:

    Lol! Aliens please come save us!

  25. Steve V says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Even before the election, he pinged my “massive huckster” radar.

    Oh man, tell me about it. I think it helps to an extent we will never quite know that the right wing media complex constantly rhapsodizes about how lovely his new clothes are.

    1
  26. DrDaveT says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    Unfortunately, not everyone listens to the lyrics of songs.

    I’m still grappling with the cognitive dissonance of Celebrity Cruises using “Go Ask Alice” to advertise the, er, wonderful trips you can take with them. Are they pranking America for the lulz, or are they really that oblivious? At a time when addiction was a daily headline, Before the Virus Came?

    6
  27. Mikey says:

    @Barry:

    They assumed that he’d f*ck people over, and for some reason that they wouldn’t be among those people.

    “I never thought leopards would eat MY face!” sobs woman who voted for the Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party.

    5
  28. wr says:

    @DrDaveT: “I’m still grappling with the cognitive dissonance of Celebrity Cruises using “Go Ask Alice” to advertise the, er, wonderful trips you can take with them. ”

    Long before that, they (or another cruise line they own) was using Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life — check out those lyrics someday. I suspect the only reason they haven’t started using Walk on the Wild Side is that Laurie Anderson won’t license it to them…

  29. JohnMcC says:

    @DrDaveT: @wr:
    Ahww man! Are you guys sayin’ that I’ve been planning to spend my $1200 check on an LSD cruise and it’s not true. Now that is too damn much. I’d figured there actually was a way to put this quarantine to good use.

    3
  30. Raoul says:

    My issue is why don’t the 40% see that this is wrong- though anectodally that number may be 30-35% but still (some just put up with it)- what it tells about us?

    1
  31. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @sam: Well, to millions of Americans, Trump is our philosopher-king.

  32. Let me note something I have noted many times before: the binary nature of our system forces people to often engage in a lot of rank-ordering (if you really prefer low taxes and anti-abortion judges, or whatever) as well as a huge amount of rationalization about one ‘s “team.”

    I would note that I am not justifying anyone’s choices, but am trying to explain them.

    3
  33. Having said that: I have a really difficult time understanding how anyone can watch Trump’s press conferences and think he is doing a good job, so the degree to which some combination of sincere support born of agreement with Trump and since support born of motivated reasoning is a scary combination.

    7
  34. Ultimately, I am pointing out why there is going to be a large percentage of people who will work Republican no matter what (or Democratic no matter what) and that has to be figured into any assessment of “how can X% vote for Y?”

  35. grumpy realist says:

    It’s not just a show for Trump–it’s a show for a lot of other people as well. My ex-friend (the one who went down the Trump rabbit hole) is now continually posting on Facebook any thinly-sourced “story” (the Daily Mail? Really?) which can be interpreted that we’re about to see a total breakdown of Law n’ Order, regardless of whether the story in fact says such. (In the above-mentioned story, he totally ignored that it was the standard police force which was called to dismantle the barricade and arrest the barricaders.)

    Note to the Second Amendment fetish types: sorry for your end-of-the-world fantasies, but chances are high that we’re not going to see ravaging hordes of individuals from the ghetto invade your neighbourhood and no, you’re not going to be able to carry out your Magic Hero Who Saves Civilization dreams. You’d do a damn sight better helping everyone in your neighbourhood out by planting a vegetable garden and giving everyone a bunch of veggies to help out their diets.

    4
  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @grumpy realist:

    You’d do a damn sight better helping everyone in your neighbourhood out by planting a vegetable garden and giving everyone a bunch of veggies to help out their diets.

    Well sure. But that would involve work. The other only involves shooting at people. You don’t even have to hit them. The shooting at is all that matters.

  37. dazedandconfused says:

    Once a game show host, always a game show host.