Back in the summer of 2016 — when the idea of Donald Trump’s presidency seemed like the sort of rhetoric designed for the bin that contains “fake news” — the state of the media-at-large was undergoing an interesting renovation under the duress of the gaping wound in a climate that couldn’t be bandaged enough to prevent the inevitable infection.
On a bright and sunny afternoon during the electoral season — while tending to my glutes at the neighborhood gym — I notice that all the screens in the area had the captivating image of Trump’s jetliner — parked at the tarmac as the activity around his namesake piece of equipment seemed to signal either his arrival or departure.
When we take moments to wonder how we got to the place where journalists are dissuaded from performing their job in favor of providing clicks of bait that can endure ongoing revisions — we have to tolerate the truth of how news organizations sold out to the keenness of a man who essentially used his winningly appalling character to mesmerize an institution that was more than ready for its downfall.
It was during CNN’s hours long coverage of Trump’s journey to an from his enormous airplane that presented nothing other than the fact that sickeningly rich White men can get whatever they want if they’re shady enough — that I bought the frightening prospect of his imminent victory.
Trump’s massive assault on our senses took many forms and while it was happening — there was a strong sense that the dignity of journalism that used to be a privilege to behold — was going to evolve into the monstrous creature of habit that won’t let up — even when the stakes are high enough to warrant an abrupt detour back to coherency.
My personal nightmare with “Trump news” began and ended at one of the foremost entertaining outlets — in the fall of 2016 — when my associate editor duties duped me into believing that I could escape the toxicity of news organizations — that were gorging themselves with the latest manna from heaven — courtesy of Access Hollywood.
That period was evidence of how much we needed the “most hated man, who we loved” to remain the focal point of contact for anything that required publishing. The disgraceful reception to the infamous tape was proof of how much we relish the dirtiness of our vocation — and why it was vital to give the impression that Trump’s abominable antics were forcing our hand into forbidden territory.
While working the beat during the turbulent week of reveals — I discovered first hand — the lust for breaking news and how it broke us into submission. I was among the editors who had to painstakingly compile the related tweets from disgusted notables and loyal family members into a pile of dough for consumption and profit.
There was no way to avoid the responsibility of giving Trump to the masses on platters of desperation — that stemmed from the competition that had to be thwarted — before the momentum of slime begins to leak into corners of consciousness. My acute awareness of how badly I was being scarred by the job of my dreams turning into a full blown nightmare — guided my exit — two days after Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton.
I knew the storm I weathered was going to converge with other systems to birth a new order that would forever alter the way we gather and internalize information.
There’s no doubt that Trump “trumped” the media for his own good at the expense of our overall health.
Journalism is now an ailing profession that can’t ever compete with the truth — a once formidable ally that aided in the downfall and rise of history’s well-stocked library.
The wonderful world of Twitter is on President Trump’s payroll and the payoff has been fruitfully rewarding as the social media giant just recently posted “its first profitable quarter ever.” This milestone can only be attributed to the power of Trump’s words and how it instantly garners millions of shares and responses in record time.
Why would a company hosting such impressive activity even consider tapering the mood of a manic leader who has the ability to throw America, the beautiful into an ugly war with its enemies — with the ammunition of a woefully misguided Tweet?
For the same reason why a team of researchers just concluded that fast news has an indefinite lifespan on Twitter — if it continues to obliterate its foe with vengeful authority.
Who needs the truth when you have Moments that arrange and re-arrange to block any hopes of processing the trickery that takes way too long to unlock. It’s all designed to mock our faculties so that we can engage in ways that yield nothing short of annoying retweets — that force you to delete your way back to peace of mind.
When Trump-mania began to conform us into bots — an editor once advised me to spend more time constructing Tweets than on the article itself. We don’t need endless words that nobody ever reads — we just need blurbs scattered all about with the videos and images that always win.
We also need speed. The faster we can spread the lies the better and then when shit hits the fan — we can quickly make the edits before we notice that we’ve been found out.
There’s no shame in a game that was initiated by a shameless fraud who bullied his way into the highest office in the land with the accompaniment of an industry that needs him more than he will ever comprehend.
Careers have literally been transported to heights of infinity as activists and experts make the rounds to spread the truth and then post the results on Instagram — with hashtags for those who can multitask their curiosity about the elite brands beckoning for endorsement.
Saturday Night Live is blissfully sporting eye-popping ratings that began when Trump turned Hillary Clinton into his punching bag. It’s entertaining to watch Alec Baldwin act out the way our Commander-in-Chief commands attention at the worst time ever. Like the ill-fated trip to Puerto Rico — when he fed paper towels to the survivors of Hurricane Maria and later berated them for costing the government a shit load of money as a result of their survival.
When you’re able to switch the channels with casual boredom at the notion that your popularity is still at an all-time high — and then Tweet about it while witnessing how the numbers gang up against each other with furious acknowledgment.
That’s when the winner is Trump. And the media is trumped. For good.