LISTEN TO TLR’S LATEST PODCAST:
Written By Gavin Hanson
For two weeks now, President Donald Trump‘s personal Facebook page has released a weekly segment entitled “Real News” that honestly bears more resemblance to a World War II propaganda reel than any actual cable or broadcast news, even that emanating from Fox.
Despite the tense situation with North Korea, an unfunded wall, and escalating wars in the middle east, Trump’s Real News has remained entirely positive about everything- except the press. Trump’s short videos seem inconsequential on the surface but also give off a “state sponsored truth” Orwellian vibe, a la 1984’s “Ministry of Truth.” This weekly spectacle only serves to further distinguish Trump from his forty-four predecessors and liken him to his rival in Pyongyang.
The intent and focus of the show is to inform American citizens of the glorious leader’s weekly achievements, because, we are told, the media isn’t interested in treating Donnie fairly. So far, each post begins and ends with a shot at “all the fake news” being put out by the mainstream media. Real News is here to let you know about facts like how the POTUS generously gave his salary to the Department of Education, while neglecting the pesky fact that he also cut the department’s funding by far more than he donated. Objectively good things done by the executive branch left relatively uncovered by mainstream media, like the diminishing number of MS-13 members, finally have a home on Real News. In what should be taken as comedic irony, episodes of Real News seem to last only a minute and a half.
The first host of what is sometimes called, “Trump News” was Donald’s daughter in law, Lara Trump, Eric Trump’s wife. The host of the second, and presumably all future episodes, is former CNN Republican pundit, Kayleigh McEnany. McEnany recently quit her lucrative position with the liberal broadcast outlet to “pursue a career opportunity,” just over a week later she was awarded the position of RNC Spokesperson and appeared on Real News.
The division between the leadership of major parties and official governance is not a hard line in the sand, it’s gray and ill-defined. A division only made less distinct by public appropriation of funds to major parties and the relatively secure duopoly on power that they hold. The president, by nature of the office, is “Chief of Party,” in addition to his more official roles as Chief of State, Chief Executive, Chief Diplomat, Commander-In-Chief, and so on. As seen by the Republican Party’s addition of a border wall to its official platform, the one place where a president’s word is law, is within his own party. If Donald Trump wants, at least temporarily, to turn the Republican party into the Trump Party, he legally can. Many executive and managerial decisions within the party are his to make. If Trump wants to have his 2020 campaign up and running less than 200 days into his 2016 term, he has the right, and the power, to hire anyone and proceed by any legal means. If Donald Trump wants to make the party’s sole purpose sustaining his own power through propaganda, he may.
Let us not forget that primary parties do get federal funding out of tax dollars.
There is a danger of being lost in the semantic details of this move. Do not be fooled. Just because Real News is exclusively posted by Donald Trump’s personal Facebook account, does not make this merely a personal advertising venture. Questions posed to the show have been redirected toward Michael Glassner, director of the President’s 2020 re-election bid- seemingly to obfuscate the broadcast and conflate it with Trump’s already dogmatic rallies which he intends to continue doing throughout his presidency. RNC spokesman Ryan Mahoney even said, “This tactic isn’t new, Campaigns use video to get their message out all the time.”
A reelection campaign beginning half a year into a presidential term, however is offensive to typical american sensibilities. Or at least it was. The President’s dogmatic grandstanding fits right into notion of the “continuous campaign,” a phrase coined during Bill Clinton’s first term and also adopted by Barack Obama. It is an unstatesmanlike strategy that traditionally conservatives take issue with.
The President is not above self promotion, in fact, Donald Trump is probably his own biggest fan, but that won’t stop him from solidifying his base. Not through leadership or action, mind you, the President’s most powerful and enduring weapon of popularity has been, and continues to be, his rallies.
The issue with Trump’s Real News is not a legal matter. The problem is the concomitant denigration of the Chief Executive position that results from such self-promoting tactics. From the humble origin of Washington, our leaders have gone from being ran for, and unfunded to being the purveyors of their own propaganda at the expense of the nation.
Trump’s rhetoric is that of his greatest enemies on the world stage. The rhetoric our President uses to paint himself as the only source of truth while relying on a populist coalition of discontents he whips into frenzies with charismatic displays is extremely dangerous. It is the same tactic used by the progressive left and is a sign of a terminally ill democracy.
Donald Trump is a salesman of his own brand, a politician in the most basic sense. The rise of the politician corresponds to the death of the statesman- the public servant disinterested in self advancement. The biggest problem with Trump’s cultivation of a cult of personality is that it is working. Although the Trump base may be subtly shrinking, reportedly 50% of Republicans would support artificially keeping Trump in power by postponing the 2020 presidential election should he suggest it.
Trump seems to accept and even invite the “not my president” mentality of his detractors. You are either really with him, or you are entirely against him. If Trump wants to maintain the respect many Americans afford him, solely for his position, he cannot continue to look more like a socialist autocrat than the representative of all Americans.