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Live from Trump Tower, its the far right: Trump TV launches on Facebook

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To bypass the so-called liberal media, the Republican nominee launched his own news program. If they intend to compete, the hosts might want to try harder

I thought thered be snacks, RNC strategist Sean Spicer said to the hosts of the debut installment of what the media is generously referring to as Trump TV.

We were all in a bit of a frothy lather over this being the long-awaited rollout of Donald Trumps real 2016 endgame a 24-hour news empire to go toe-to-toe with Fox News for the eyeballs of Americas far right. At last, Trump would reveal his true intentions.

Instead, we got a grown man asking where the craft services table is.

This is not Trump TV, declared the hosts Trump advisers Boris Epshteyn and Cliff Sims. It is, instead a program called Live from Trump Tower an effort by us to reach out to you, they said.

Lets really load this up, Epshteyn exclaimed, as though he were in line at Sizzler and about to dump a soup ladle full of sour cream on his baked potato. Something about Live from Trump Tower makes people hungry, I guess. Im sure someone can pop down to grab one of Trump Towers famous taco bowls.

But there is no discernible entertainment value to be had in Live from Trump Tower, unless your idea of a good time is significantly less professional than InfoWars, but with fewer insane people removing articles of clothing.

A visible effort was made to mimic the look and feel of cable news, down to the hypnotic scroll of propaganda and stretched truths: the Las Vegas Review-Journal has endorsed Donald Trump! Dont worry that the paper is owned by one of Trumps biggest donors and that this is his only major newspaper endorsement!

I found myself momentarily hypnotized. The only thing that could break the spell was the conspicuous sound of the iPad filming this debacle receiving a Skype call. I hope it was Roger Ailes asking where his production budget went.

The actual program involved Epshteyn and Sims sitting at a table inside Trumps campaign office, trading catchphrases and conspiracy theories the liberal media is hiding the truth, drain the swamp, Twitter is an accurate accounting of the American electorate, Hillary sent people dressed as ducks to incite violence at Trump rallies until the loose segments peter out and are replaced by clips of the orange candidate popping a blood vessel over Obamacare.

The backdrop of boxes, loose papers and telephones gives it all the flavor of a dire PBS telethon or a sparsely attended youth group meeting in the basement of a Lutheran church.

First, Epshteyn and Sims thoroughly hashed out the story of Clinton supporter Terry McAuliffe donating to the campaign of an FBI official, and then chastised Hillary Clinton for the way in which she earned her sizable wealth. Sims then threw to Tomi Lahren, a 24-year-old blonde woman and host for the conservative multimedia network The Blaze who recently compared the Black Lives Matter movement to the Ku Klux Klan.

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Who needs to go on the Tonight show when you have your own media empire? Photograph: NBC/Getty Images

If Ailes and Trump tried to clone Megyn Kelly and remove her sense of decency and desire to be taken seriously within the mainstream of popular culture, they still couldnt do as fine a job as Lahren has done herself. As a proud Deplorable, Lahren is convinced of her sides exceptionalism, up to the point in which it comes to winning elections. Theyre gonna beat us at every turn at organization, at fundraisers, at attack ads, she laments in her monologue, offering up the only lucid moment in the entire program.

Cutting back to home base, Epshteyn and Sims are joined by Spicer. In lieu of any good news, the gang falls back on the reliable and the battle-tested: Trump is a popular public figure.

Hes kind of like a rock star in a way, Spicer says. Rock stars pack houses, after all, just like Trump. Isnt that all that matters? Shouldnt we decide our elections based on fleeting computerized social interactions or the number of Halloween costumes sold? If I had to choose a rock star to be president, I might go with a more benevolent, coffeehouse option say, Dave Matthews or one of the Indigo Girls.

The thing is, Spicer is right. Trump is a rock star, of a sort. He feeds off a cult of personality, sells merchandise with his name on it, spouts easy-to-remember catchphrases and plays to the crowd. Instead of humping a mic stand or destroying a guitar, he hugs the flag or demands his opponent be arrested for treason.

As potent as that brand is, Trump cannot be on Trump TV all 24 hours of the day. At most, hell be a mascot for the channel, not unlike Oprah on OWN hosting a show or two and appearing in adverts. The viewership dipped to 35,300 people at 7pm, once people realized the show would be people agreeing with each other for a half-hour.

The main event, a Trump rally in Florida, ended the grand experiment, and, slowly, viewers came back to see their spray-tanned hero pontificate. Instead of CNN or Fox News, Trump TV might want to take a cue from another infotainment outlet taking advantage of their viewers fears and prejudices: the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

Paul and Jan Crouch of TBN made millions of dollars allowing sweaty people like Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker scream about sin and redemption, the wrath of the lord and the literal price of salvation. TBN lasted after Jim Bakker was arrested and convicted of fraud, because the message has to be more important than the man. One day, Trump and his media empire will face the same challenge hes issuing to Fox News someone more extreme, more charismatic and more willing to incite their followers, unless Trump can check his ego and hire that person instead. Not likely.

I tuned out after Trumps sensual massage of Old Glory, but Im happy to report that Spicer got to eat. I did see theres food coming, Epshteyn said, glancing over at the room behind him. On the walls of that room were multiple mounted televisions, which the hosts said were always tuned to cable news, the target of their scorn. If they intend to join them on that wall, they might want to try harder. Start by feeding the guests.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/24/trump-tv-facebook-live-us-election-media-tomi-lahren

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