How Gossip Made Donald Trump (and Vice Versa)
In the business world, Donald Trump is more Rupert Murdoch’s peer than his subject — but when it comes to the Republican front-runner’s patented propensity to galvanize the press and cultivate his all-important brand, he has, in part, Murdoch to thank.
Not that it hasn’t been a highly mutually beneficial relationship.
As seasoned media-watcher Michael Wolff pointed out in The Hollywood Reporter, the rise of personality-driven news was both fed by willing participants like Trump and fueled his own fortunes in various arenas:
There is hardly a better example of the power and value of the New York Post’s “Page Six” than Donald Trump. Despite Rupert Murdoch’s recent tweets against him, Trump is a Murdoch gossip creation. Near-constant coverage during the 1980s and ’90s of his marriages, his posturing and his bling, together with Trump’s own deep and prescient understanding that publicity is a golden currency — hence his ardent cultivation of the Post and “Page Six” — turned him from middling real estate developer into personal brand, national figure, reality show star and now, extraordinarily, frontrunner Republican presidential candidate.
And hardly just that. Defying all reasonable programming expectations, Trump single-handedly made the Aug. 6 debate a monster hit. The lion’s share of that audience certainly wasn’t tuning in to watch a bunch of politicians.
Quite the extraordinary realization is that a generation or two ago, most news was event- and institution-driven, with the personalities involved, bystanders and great men alike, treated in formal and remote fashion — apparently still the retro expectation of most politicians: ever dull, impersonal and stiff.
Well, all that’s changed now.
Also in The Hollywood Reporter, onetime Gawker Editor Choire Sicha added his commentary about how the online journalism game dovetails with the aforementioned personality-based trend to create a perfect storm of asininity that benefits no one except celebrities and the cottage industries that love them:
The Internet is a swirling death trap of dubious gossip, outraged tweet-to-tweet combat and a million identical pieces of over-processed, hormone-injected “news content” written for fourth-graders. There’s a reason for that. It’s called money.
And we now have that same reason to thank for the Trump Show.
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