The reality TV show called the “Republican presidential primary” has reached a new low with the revelation that television business brand Donald Trump will moderate a debate between the candidates. The raft of ethical conflicts that surround this move is itself a perfect illustration of the threat posed to American democracy by the continued blending of news, politics and entertainment.
It’s become increasingly difficult for the voting public to distinguish between what’s real and what’s fake in the campaign – just as it is on reality TV shows like “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” People are being led to believe that they’re watching accurate depictions of everyday life, rather than carefully scripted shows designed to boost ratings and profits.
Trump will play the role of an objective moderator on this program who is seeking neither to advance himself nor any of the individual candidates. Trump’s primary claim to fame is the nation’s iconic comb-over and his own insatiable thirst for media exposure. The former candidate is not a journalist and he’s got no business moderating a local school board debate, much less a national forum of this import.
The planned show provides a window into the GOP’s ongoing struggle for ratings supremacy with the Kardashian clan, which has dominated the placement of choreographed news in recent months with daily stories ranging from anal leakage to the use of mayonnaise to make their vaginas appear to glisten during nude pictorials. It also exposes the widespread ethical conflicts that have plagued the news industry since 1996 as a result of the deregulation of the U.S. media industry, which has blurred the lines between news, entertainment and politics.
It’s become abundantly clear in recent months that there is absolutely nothing to deter major network news programs from employing machine politicians to funnel billions of dollars of political advertising to their networks during an election cycle. The absence of such restrictions, and potential profitability of such quid-pro-quo arrangements, is a formula for misinformation and for the gaming of American democracy by the two political machines.
The Newsmax-Trump debate will be broadcast by the Ion Television cable network Dec. 27. News about the debate was released just days after the Ion network announced that is was establishing a new political sales team to pursue advertising during the 2012 federal election.
We are left to assume that no candidate will be allowed to exchange promises of political advertising for favorable treatment during the show. We are confronted by similar leaps of faith at every network news operation – none of which disclose their revenue from political advertising while purporting to provide fair and balanced coverage of elected politics in their traditional role as government watchdogs.
The stakes are high with President Barack Obama expected to raise more than $1 billion for his 2012 re-election campaign – much of which will be spent on television advertising. The pot of federal advertising dollars could easily top $3 billion next year if his GOP opponent raises a similar amount.
MSNBC and Fox have positioned themselves to pursue a share of this windfall by loading their newscasts with leaders of the two primary political machines and their children.
Under the leadership of longtime Republican media consultant Roger Ailes, Fox has employed a number of Republican hopefuls and provided an almost endless stream of supportive news for them. GOP presidential hopefuls Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Huckabee have all worked for Fox News.
Meanwhile, MSNBC has hired the daughters of former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and former Republican presidential candidate John McCain as news correspondents. The three members of the political aristocracy don’t have a single journalism degree between them. They’ve never been elected to public office.
McCain (above right) defined the limits of her own intellectual range Dec. 1 by asserting that U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (D-Minn.), was “more smarter” than former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Trump, who inherited the family real estate business from his daddy, has made a career out of implying he is a business tycoon of unparalleled prowess. Exactly what kind of business tycoon depends on the viewer’s business acumen.
In the real world, companies associated with the Trump brand have filed for bankruptcy three times. And his reality TV catchphrase – “you’re fired” – is a standing insult to decent working people struggling with the outsourcing of American jobs to low-wage nations to boost corporate profits.
Representative Ron Paul of the Texas and Jon M. Huntsman, the former Utah governor, have both declined to participate in the Dec. 27 made-for-TV special. They’re widely perceived to be serious candidates in a Republican political clown car littered with Fox News personalities. However, Gingrich has accepted.
“The selection of a reality television personality to host a presidential debate that voters nationwide will be watching is beneath the office of the presidency and flies in the face of that office’s history and dignity,” Jesse Benton, Ron Paul’s national campaign chairman, said in a statement published by The New York Times.
Bachmann has not said what she will do, in an apparent reference to the Trump show. Her primary claim to fame is the ability to deep-throat a monster corn dog, which she demonstrated during the Iowa Caucus alongside her husband Marcus . He has obtained more than $130,000 in federal money for helping gay men pray themselves straight.
When are you going to wakeup and realize that someone is making fun of the intelligence of the average American voter and the democratic process? Does it really matter who?
DC thinks they can get us to vote for a box of cereal if they have enough money to grease the wheels of the political-news-entertainment marketing machine.