Quote of the Day: Donald Trump and the Press

Quote of the Day: Donald Trump and the Press

Donald Trump has a strange relationship with the media, to say the least. He basks in the glow of constant attention, and loves seeing his name in the headlines. The mainstream media, for their part, can’t get enough of him. He brings ratings. He brings shocking soundbites and inflammatory stories. But Trump can turn on a dime, and suddenly, that love has turned to hatred. And it’s because the media would dare to say anything negative about him or, Heaven forbid, question him. No one is allowed to question The Donald. He’s not allowed to be criticized. So when the press breaks The Donald’s rules, he completely loses his temper. Graydon Carter and Kurt Andersen know this better than anyone. Founders of the now-defunct Spy Magazine, they were a thorn in Trump’s side during the 80s, constantly lampooning him for his vulgarity, excess, and questionable business tactics. And a new interview with Carter and Andersen gives some disturbing insight into Trump’s dealings with the press.

On Trump as a target of derision

Andersen: When Spy began, it was a very New York-focused thing, and he, maybe above others … he wasn’t familiar then. He was kind of brand new. And it was the ’80s, late ’80s, and he was, he epitomized so much of the sudden ostentation —

Carter: The brashness and ostentation —

Andersen: The vulgarity —

Carter: Vulgarity of New York in the ’80s, yeah.

Andersen: I mean, New York, ’80s, Donald Trump — that, until now, could have been the illustration in the dictionary. And because he has loved then, and loves — like nobody I’ve ever seen, in a kind of addict way — public attention, he started rising to the bait and talking back to us.

On repeatedly describing Trump as a “short-fingered vulgarian”

Carter: Well, we’d come up with these epithets, and there was a certain writer we called a “bosomy dirty book writer.” … It was just the repetition that made them stick a bit back in the day.

Andersen: And we had tried other epithets. We tried “Queens-born casino operator.”

Carter: Yeah, yeah, yeah —

Andersen: A couple of others, but it was —

Carter: It was the juvenileness of the “short-fingered vulgarian.”

Andersen: Yes. The short-fingered vulgarian: The combination of smart — “vulgarian” — and “short-fingered,” just a stupid, ad hominem physical description.

On Trump’s reaction

Carter: [Trump] blames me for this more than Kurt. He’ll send me pictures, tear sheets from magazines, and he did it as recently as [last] April. With a gold Sharpie, he’ll circle his fingers and in his handwriting say, “See, not so short.” And this April when he sent me one, I just — I should have held on to the thing, but I sent it right back by messenger with a note, a card stapled to the top, saying, “Actually, quite short.” And I know it just gives him absolute fits. And now that it’s become sort of part of the whole campaign rhetoric, I’m sure he wants to just kill me — with those little hands.

This is extremely telling. It may not seem like a big deal, and for a mere celebrity, it’s not. It shows a shocking level of insecurity, and it’s certainly odd. Most celebrities don’t personally respond every time a media outlet publishes something negative about them, much less remember it decades later and still continue rebutting the claim. But regardless, for a celebrity, this isn’t really much to talk about. For a president, it’s worrisome.

Being a president means being criticized, and it means being criticized constantly. George W. Bush was attacked so much, and so fiercely, that it even got a name: Bush Derangement Syndrome. People entertained assassination fantasies. They burned him in effigy. Now imagine this happened with a President Donald Trump. Imagine a mainstream media outlet publishing a story fiercely critical of a decision Trump had made. Maybe they criticize a speech he made. Or maybe it’s criticism of his wife, Melania. Michelle Obama, after all, has been the subject of mountains of scrutiny. We can see right here, in this story, how Trump responds. Spy folded in the 90s. The Trump-focused stories were in the 80s. Yet Trump is still obsessing over these two writers, sending them notes and pictures to prove them wrong. This is someone who gets easily rattled by negative attention, or someone questioning him. Look at what happened to Megyn Kelly, and all because she gave him a few tough questions. He launched an ongoing assault on her character, right down to the despicable line about “blood coming out of her wherever”. This is someone who promised to, if elected, “open up libel laws” so he can bring the full weight of the federal government down on media outlets who dare to write something that Trump deems “negative”.

In the interview with Carter and Andersen, they joke that if Trump is elected president, they’ll probably end up in an internment camp somewhere. But given Trump’s insane reaction to any negative story being printed about him, and his Hitler-esque optics, does that idea really seem so far-fetched?

Image courtesy of Breitbart.
Image courtesy of Breitbart.

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