Monday, July 27, 2015
Is Trump Becoming the Media’s Teflon Don?
Politics can create some strange realities. Trends and results that nobody could have predicted before they happened. Donald Trump may be in the process of creating such a surge. It seems New York’s own business mogul can say and do whatever he wants. No matter how opponents try to pin him to the wall, Trump comes out unscathed. Just take a look at recent weeks. Trump initially got in hot water for making some very specific disparaging remarks about illegal immigrants. Opponents painted him as a racist. Others tarred him as a hypocrite, saying he employs thousands of Central and South American immigrants. The implication was clear – Trump banks on illegals. But the Teflon Don just grinned and shook his head.
He loves Mexicans, some of his hardest workers are Mexican. He’s not racist. As for the other allegation, Trump was so quick on the trigger to say something else inflammatory, nobody even bothered to check up on it.
That other inflammatory thing? John McCain isn’t a war hero. Why? Because he was captured. Sure, Trump admitted McCain was, in fact, a hero, but then he doubled down, saying he preferred heroes that didn’t get captured. Conservatives and military hawks were enraged. For about a day. But when the media jumped on him about his McCain comments, Trump reversed the heat, calling out the media as hypocrites. His key constituents ate it up. As Trump headed down to a press op at the border, his fans crowed about his deft handling of media veterans like Matt Lauer and Anderson Cooper. When the “mainstream media” leapt at the chance to defend their colleagues, Trump’s supporters were, once again, completely in his pocket.
But no GOP candidate can win the nomination without the religious conservative vote. How would Trump fair with them? When asked about his faith Trump, who is officially Christian, said he can’t recall asking God for forgiveness, he just tries to do right. When it comes time for communion, he’s happy to “eat the little cracker and drink the wine” but really doesn’t think too much about it.
If any other candidate had been that flippant about their faith, the GOP would have sent them packing, particularly in the more conservative states. Not Trump. He’s still scoring big in Iowa and South Carolina, two key states.
How is he doing it? Why doesn’t anything stick to Donald Trump? The easy answer would be to say he understands the media. And that would be the right answer. Trump gets it. He may be the first national GOP candidate since Reagan who truly understands the power of a good sound bite and powerful screen presence. It will be interesting to see how that translates in the debates.
Jonah Engler is a financial expert and an entrepreneur from New York.