Last Friday, 30.6 million Americans watched as Donald Trump was sworn into office as the forty-fifth President of the United States. Despite the various boycotts of the ceremony, this was the fifth most-watched inauguration in history. A fact, for which I’m sure Trump will claim as proof that the polls and the media were biased in their reports of his lack of popularity.
However, these numbers are due, in part, to the fact that the number of televisions in the United States has tripled in the last 30 years. More TV’s mean more people are watching. Furthermore, people will stop to watch a car accident or a house fire. It doesn’t mean they actually like it.
So millions watched Trump’s first presidential speech to the nation – whether to be inspired, to be infuriated, or to see if anyone assassinated him. (Spoiler alert: He survived.)
It might seem ironic that Trump’s current position is thanks to the media he continues to malign. He rose to fame because of a television show and then used his ability to manipulate the media mind to win an election. Throughout his campaign, he Tweeted wild statements, forcing news outlets to respond and thereby, got more media airtime than any other campaigning politician.
But then he positioned himself as the victim of the big media machine and claimed it was “Us versus Them.” This put him in the same boat as Middle America despite the fact that he’s a multi-millionaire with three former-model wives who has nothing in common with the average voter.
However, his continued ire wasn’t ironic. It was actually quite brilliant. He appeared to hate the media but in reality, he knew this antagonistic relationship gave him more power among his supporters.
And he’s far from done. The networks covered all sides of the inauguration, giving a relatively balanced report from all sides. They spent hours showing the speeches and the protestors. They talked to both Democrats and Republicans. Even the Clinton-supporters who were interviewed were moderate in their tone. It seemed like a truce had been called.
Then on Saturday, Trump complained that the networks had shown false images of a nearly empty National Mall and under-reported the attendance which he said was nearly 1.5 million. (Apparently, he counted while he was making his speech.)
So it’s back on. At least for Donald Trump.
And why not? This one-sided feud has given him great cache with the anti-establishment folk who voted him in, despite that Trump is the very definition of “establishment.” It makes him honest to a fault. And proves that he will not kowtow to the media machine that continues to lie to the public.
So the next four years should be an interesting battle between the mainstream media’s facts and the President’s unsubstantiated version of the truth.
The real irony is that in any other country, Donald Trump’s “truth” would be called “political propaganda.” And Americans would shame its believers.