How Trump trumped the establishment media culture

Amid all the media fawning over Meryl Streep’s anti-Trump screed at the Golden Globe Awards, media writer Michael Wolff was preparing the finishing touches on a new column at Newsweek that the likes of Streep will likely loathe.

But as he has shown since Trump’s victory in the presidential race in November, Wolff has captured the essence of what’s been behind this unlikely campaign, and as it continues to escape the media establishment:

The ongoing expressions of shock on the part of the cultural establishment—expressed on a daily basis by The New Yorker, New York magazine and The New York Times, anything, apparently, with New York in its title—reflect their fears that the development of a more careful, regulated and corrected world is about to be undone. That the unapologetic white male has returned. You could hardly find a more threatening and throwback version of that than Trump—a rich, voluble, egomaniacal, middle-aged pussy hound. To write him you would need some combination of authors like Norman Mailer, Terry Southern, Harry Crews and Gore Vidal, all notably out of step with current cultural norms.

And this:

“Media fragmentation has created all sorts of thriving niches that accommodate the views of eager consumers, lessening the need to speak to a broader, more difficult-to-reach audience—the once-great mass market.”

And one more:

“Trump’s attacks on the media served to say that his language, his expressiveness, his ability to connect with the audience was more potent than the media’s. (In an interview with Trump shortly after his nomination was secure, he told me he was sure of victory when for the first primary debate, the usual audience increased almost tenfold because of his presence: ‘I’m more entertaining than the media.’) The media, in thrall to the culture establishment—and signed on to its cultural rules and concerns (hence its Pussygate shock)—was inauthentic and he was the real thing.”

Some other excellent riffs by Wolff along similar media-themed lines here and here (Hollywood Reporter), the fake news about “fake news” (USA Today) and another Hollywood Reporter gem, an interview with Trump adviser Steve Bannon.

Whatever you think of Trump—and I don’t think much of him at all—what’s been truly astonishing is to see how the establishment media continues to misunderstand and misinterpret what’s truly behind his political rise.

If you want to see Trump serve no more than one term—and I consider myself in that group—then read, absorb and understand Wolff’s sharp insights.

But if you prefer to have Trump become a two-term president, then by all means keep blindly applauding the Meryl Streeps of the world.

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