Trump again proves he is mas­ter of the me­dia

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY CHARLES HURT

Po­lit­i­cally speak­ing, no­body ever went broke beat­ing up the me­dia. Add this tru­ism to the long, long list of tech­niques and tac­tics that Don­ald Trump in­stinc­tively un­der­stands at a deep gut­tural level that no­body in me­dia or pol­i­tics seems to grasp. Even now, a year into Mr. Trump’s Pres­i­den­tial Spec­tac­u­lar.

“You’re a sleaze,” Mr. Trump spat caus­ti­cally while jab­bing his fin­ger to­ward a re­porter from ABC News.

“A sleaze,” he re­peated, “be­cause you know the facts and you know the facts well.”

Mr. Trump had or­dered the me­dia to his glit­ter­ing Man­hat­tan cas­tle — Trump Tower — and, du­ti­fully, they all showed up, right on time. And they sat right where they were told to sit.

Sup­pos­edly, Mr. Trump had gath­ered them all to­gether so he could an­swer charges that he had lied when he claimed to have raised $6 mil­lion for mil­i­tary vet­er­ans. Re­porters have hounded Mr. Trump for months af­ter they were not able to ver­ify how much money Mr. Trump raised and to which vet­er­ans groups the money was do­nated.

In­stead, with the me­dia act­ing in per­fect ac­cor­dance with Mr. Trump’s wishes, the press con­fronta­tion turned into a 40-minute Trump cam­paign com­mer­cial about how many mil­lions of dol­lars Don­ald Trump has raised and given to the vet­er­ans, how much vet­er­ans love Don­ald Trump and how much Don­ald Trump hates the me­dia. Oh, and it was all car­ried live on ev­ery chan­nel.

It was, once again, sheer me­dia mar­ket­ing ge­nius. It was build­ing a wall and mak­ing Mex­ico pay for it. It was win­ning the de­bate you did not even at­tend. It was the hos­tile takeover of the Repub­li­can Party — and mak­ing the me­dia and your op­po­nents pay for just about ev­ery dime of it. It was vin­tage Don­ald Trump. “I think the po­lit­i­cal press is among the most dis­hon­est peo­ple that I have ever met,” Mr. Trump said at one point, as view­ers across the coun­try leapt to their feet and cheered.

“I’ve watched you on tele­vi­sion,” Mr. Trump taunted an­other re­porter. “You’re a real beauty.”

Even some re­porters in the crowd strug­gled to sti­fle their laugh­ter at that zinger.

With grate­ful vet­er­ans posted be­hind him, Mr. Trump said he raised $5.6 mil­lion and qui­etly dis­trib­uted the pro­ceeds to a cou­ple dozen out­fits in the form of checks rang­ing in size from $50,000 to $1.1 mil­lion.

As he be­gan to read the list of do­na­tions, he paused and con­temp­tu­ously asked the gath­ered jour­nal­ists: “Are you ready? Do you have your pen?”

Af­ter read­ing the long list, Mr. Trump ex­plained that he had wanted to make the char­i­ta­ble do­na­tions dis­creetly to vet­er­ans and vet or­ga­ni­za­tions that had been thor­oughly vet­ted.

“And I’m happy to do it,” he said. “I didn’t want the credit for it, but it was very un­fair that the press treated us so badly.”

By this point, re­porters were stam­mer­ing and sput­ter­ing in dis­be­lief.

“When you are talk­ing about not want­ing to get credit for this, you did host a very pub­lic fundraiser that was tele­vised,” a re­porter de­manded.

“How else am I go­ing to raise the money?” Mr. Trump asked sim­ply. Fi­nally, one re­porter had had enough. “You keep calling us the dis­hon­est press, the dis­gust­ing press,” he started to whine, be­fore Mr. Trump cut him off with a clas­sic, me­dia-mad­den­ing Trump­ism.

“Well, gen­er­ally speak­ing, that is 100 per­cent true,” Mr. Trump said.

Af­ter evis­cer­at­ing the ABC re­porter as “a sleaze,” he tried in­ter­ject­ing to in­quire why Mr. Trump thought he was so sleazy.

Mr. Trump quickly grew tired of the ex­change and handed the mi­cro­phone over to one of the vet­er­ans stand­ing on stage with him, who stepped for­ward and talked for a few min­utes about how grate­ful he and the other vet­er­ans were to Mr. Trump for rais­ing over $5 mil­lion for vet­er­ans.

Just an­other win for Don­ald Trump. Charles Hurt can be reached at Fol­low him on Twit­ter via @charleshurt.

Don­ald Trump

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