Media Play Trump Card

Media Play Trump Card

Guest Column by Jordan Barkin

Donald Trump claimed earlier in the Republican primary season that his interview and debate performances increased the ratings of those media outlets that covered him. He was correct. What he didn’t know was that cable news programs also get high ratings by covering Trump’s gaffes. And boy, does The Donald provide fodder for commentary.

Here are five groups the Republican candidate has offended with memorable remarks:

  • Mexican immigrants. It is not often that a candidate for president begins his campaign with a major gaffe. Trump did so June 16 at Trump Tower when he said of Mexican immigrants, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.” Trump’s ratings increased at the time, but, given that an increasing percentage of the electorate is Mexican-American, this comment may damage his long-term political prospects.
  • Women. In December 2006, Trump called Rosie O’Donnell “fat little Rosie.” The comment gained media attention at the time but faded. That is, until Trump criticized the looks of his opponent Carly Fiorina in Rolling Stone, remarking, “Look at that face!”
  • The media. Yes, journalists and commentators are accustomed to being called liberal and hypercritical. But usually politicians make these media criticisms with more finesse. Trump, by contrast, fought with NBC and its property Univision early in his campaign. He then went on to, inexplicably, feud with two television hosts who are quite fair to Republicans, Megyn Kelly of Fox and Joe Scarborough of MSNBC.
  • The physically disabled. In late November, Trump made more news by mocking the hand movements of reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has a disability. Few people rushed to Trump’s defense that time.
  • Muslims. On Dec. 7, a campaign press release read, “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” Never mind that Islam is a diverse religion with more than a billion followers from numerous nations, many of which are American allies.

In Trump’s defense, there is a great deal of scrutiny in this era of constant news coverage, criticism on the Internet and smartphones. But other candidates from both parties seem to have made fewer preventable gaffes. And Trump seems to have demonstrated a pattern of rash interactions with others and unclear strategy.

One thing is for certain: Not all attention is positive attention.

A freelance writer and former associate editor at Veranda, Atlanta native Jordan Barkin divides his time between his home in South Alabama and his family’s home in Atlanta.

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