If Trump is a media whore, is Rupert Murdoch his media pimp?

English: Donald Trump at a press conference an...

English: Donald Trump at a press conference announcing David Blaine’s latest feat in New York City at the Trump Tower. The photographer dedicates this portrait of Donald Trump to Tony Santiago, Wikipedia editor Marine 69-71, perhaps the most officially recognized and accomplished content contributor to Wikipedia, for his outstanding contributions to improving articles related to his Puerto Rican heritage. He is also a close friend. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Trump has been described as a “media whore”.[1] He seeks publicity, good or bad, to retain his status as a public celebrity. He wants publicity to be a celebrity. He knows the public defer to celebrity status more than moral gravitas. He knows the public want to be celebrities more than they want to have moral gravitas. In this, Trump’s insatiable hunger for publicity makes him the perfect match for Rupert Murdoch. Like Ahab after Moby Dick, Murdoch finally has a celebrity to match his ambitions. No matter how many tricks he turns, Trump’s audience wants more. No matter how many times he is slapped by his media pimps, Trump wants more.

Rupert Murdoch harvests people who want publicity. What they all lacked was Trump’s stamina and his ability to retain the public’s attention. Invariably, Murdoch’s other media whores would falter. Either the public grew bored with them or the slaps no longer created enough publicity. In time, the media whore was discarded. Occasionally, one would be rehabilitated to harvest their publicity, but none has thrived like Trump.

Invariably when Murdoch, his editor or his journalist media pimped someone they lacked Trump’s nihilistic joy of publicity. Paul McMullan, perhaps the only honest man to work for News of the World, exemplifies this ethos. He media pimped Jennifer Elliott who needed help with her addiction. He befriended her to gain her trust. With her trust, he sold more stories and photos of her. When no longer of use, he left her and sold that story. He explained this process at the Leveson Inquiry. He was honest about what he had done and why he had done it.[2] In that moment, he ceased to be an effective media pimp.

By contrast, Andy Coulson almost succeeded in emulating Rupert Murdoch. His attempt to pimp a story failed spectacularly and he was forced to resign. Despite that failure, he was rehabilitated as David Cameron’s Director of Communications. When Cameron became Prime Minister, Coulson was with him as a media pimp. On the brink of success, he was undone by the phone hacking that had made him a powerful media pimp. Coulson’s demise destroyed Murdoch’s influences from within the government.

Rupert Murdoch, though, knows how to be a media pimp to Trump’s media whore. He knows that the path between too much support and too much criticism. He has to slap Trump around occasionally to keep him in line even as he touts Trump’s charms. On Fox News, we see opinion pieces that fluff Trump’s ego. The rare critical statement emerges to give the appearance of balance. When Shephard Smith criticized Trump’s surveillance claims, he was only walking back a story that another Fox commentator, Judge Andrew Napolitano, had created. The incident shows how Murdoch slaps Trump to please his audience even after he promoted Trump’s views to please him. The media pimp is fair and balanced to his media whore and his clients. We end up with a president who wants the authority that comes with his celebrity but not the responsibility. 

 

 

 

[1] http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/donald-trump-fooled-media

“Donald Trump was, in a time of some of the greatest competition for this title, the world’s ultimate media whore. Hands down. Indeed, on many occasions the media wrote him off as being too much of a media whore (when I worked for New York magazine in the late Nineties, Trump stories were invariably rejected as too lamely obvious and self-promoting). But he was so much of a media whore that he supplicated himself to such a further extent that he triumphed over his own triteness and obviousness.”

[2] http://leveson.sayit.mysociety.org/speech/8974 The story shows perhaps most clearly the tabloid ethos of News of the World from McMullan to Coulson and Brooks to Murdoch. There is no human misery so deep or so devastating that they refrained from profiting from it. They harvested human misery for profit and justified it as being in the public interest.

Advertisements

About lawrence serewicz

An American living and working in the UK trying to understand the American idea and explain it to others. The views in this blog are my own for better or worse.
This entry was posted in ethics, journalism, public opinion, reputation management and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s