The Times thinks it’s leading the forces of reason and light against Donald Trump, but it doesn’t have a clue. Every day their front page is festooned with the latest noxious Trumpian remark, followed by paragraphs of commentary on how unprecedented it is for a president to talk this way and how appalled most politicians and political observers are. They think Trump is making one mistake after another, and if their readers are exposed to the whole lot of them, they will turn against the Donald. But his pompous bullying is not a mistake at all; it’s pretty much all he does.
Trump has been nothing but consistent during his first run as a reality-show business tycoon and his second as a national politician. He presents himself as a sort of alpha male, bigger, badder and sexier than anyone else on the block. People don’t support him because they think he’s nice or sophisticated in his reasoning; they want someone who can get the job done, and Trump presents himself as willing and able to bash his way to success. Threats and insults are standard operating procedure.
The irony, of course, is that once you get past his mouth he turns out to be an uncommonly weak and ineffectual president. True, his allies and cronies are securing judgeships and eviscerating regulations, but Trump himself is 99% PR. He was a fake business kingpin the first time around, and now he’s a fake president. His only job is to distract you from what the real movers and shakers are doing.
So the Times, by giving us megadoses of Trump’s mouth are playing right into his strategy. If they secretly want him to be re-elected, they should go on doing it. On the off-chance that they want to defeat the guy, however, here’s a better way:
1. No, absolutely no, front page news on Trump unless he actually does something—and saying stupid or mean stuff doesn’t qualify as doing.
2. Have a regular section deeper in the paper, on page 8 say, devoted to the man’s various harangues and tweets. Record his weird and ugly babbling for posterity. Provide reputable internet sources for factual correctives. But keep it small and tucked away.
3. Change the ruling meme from “He is upending the world through his threats and insults” to “He is a blowhard who actually does almost nothing.” Treat him not like an alpha but more like an omega with endless vocalizations, best ignored.