From The Anti-Media:
Op-ed by Jake Anderson
December 3, 2015
Why? The Donald believes the network isn’t treating him fairly, and on top of that, is profiting handsomely from the debates with through-the-roof TV ratings, for which Trump believes his presence is largely responsible.
This is assuredly high-level political grandstanding, something Trump has refined to a demented art form so far during the 2016 race. CNN hasn’t yet responded to the bizarre demand.
According to journalism professor Alan Schroeder, the move is relatively unprecedented:
“One of the things about debates that’s a positive is they’ve always been separate from the whole financial aspect of campaigning. This is extortion. I hope CNN calls his bluff.”
Putting aside for a moment the dubious claim that presidential debates are separate from campaign financing, it’s worth pointing out that Trump wants the money donated to a veteran’s charity.
In terms of revenue, we know the networks broadcasting these debates are raking in money. According to Ad Age, CNN is charging 40 times its usual prices for ad spots during the Republican debates.
That mainstream news networks, particularly CNN, play a large part in shaping the political narrative surrounding national elections lends weight to the idea that there is something fundamentally skewed about such debates generating so much money. Trump, in his sociopathic grandstanding, understands this and is playing his trump card by basically extorting the network (for a ‘good cause’) while showing the seedy entertainment business logic that underlies how mainstream news networks showcase presidential campaigns and debates to the public.
This goes beyond just a fractured relationship with CNN, though. There is a larger, more important rift that has been developing since Trump entered the race: he is dangerous to the GOP and yet wields too much power and popularity to be shredded in the same way that Howard Dean was in the 2004 primaries. In that year, the Democrats savagely deposed the popular presidential candidate and replaced him with the more establishment-friendly John Kerry.
Trump has catalyzed an unprecedented level of nationalistic xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism, sexism, and countless other forms of discrimination against minorities, including offensive comments directed at disabled people and poor and working class citizens. Yet, disturbingly, these aren’t the reasons Trump is dangerous to the GOP. In fact, his distorted, bigoted brand of nationalism is perfectly copacetic with the Republican base.
The friction between Trump and the GOP involves a strange witch’s brew of borderline socially liberal policies that do not align with the party’s dusty, reactionary platitudes, curiously paired with a frenzied xenophobic attitude toward foreigners and immigrants — which further distances the Republican brand from the Latino voting bloc. More importantly, Trump represents a backfiring of crony capitalism and corporatocracy in which the extreme wealth of an ‘outsider’ trumps the political leverage traditionally consolidated into two preeminent American syndicates — the Democratic and Republican parties — that are not used to special interest money working against them.
So, should CNN pay Donald Trump $5 million dollars to appear in the next debate? Perhaps they should call his bluff and stipulate that the veteran’s charity of Trump’s choosing will only receive the money if he agrees to drop out of the race. He could make a brief appearance at the beginning of the December 15th debate and announce, simply, “I’m fired because I’m a dangerous moron…and I look like an orangutan injected with Botox.”
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