Jane Bowron: Presidential candidate holds all the free-advertising trump cards
OPINION: The grossly lop-sided NZ$2 billion of free media publicity Donald Trump has received for his presidential campaign compared to other candidates shows the blurred line between entertainment and corporate media.
Back in February, CBS chief Les Moonves was over the moon about record profits from Trump's latest reality TV venture (aka The Presidential Campaign) and had the CBS chief cheering for Trump, saying he may not be good for America but he was damn good for CBS.
With American and international networks hardly giving Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders any coverage in comparison to the comb-over, spray-tanned Orange Roughy, and Hillary Clinton coming second in the pecking order in news items, Trump can safely keep his cheque book in his pocket, secure in the knowledge that the deck is stacked for him and he owns the free-advertising trump card.
In this country, Trump's every outrage is given great prominence in news bulletins, as are the reality TV show star's spin-off side-shows of protester skirmishes at his rallies. We live in such strange times that one could almost be accused of inciting violence to say that a presidential candidate is 'bullet proof'. But that is the message we keep being fed about the so-called anti-establishment messiah who even in a slanging match between Donny v Frankie (Trump v Pope Francis) the perception was, in that testy verbal exchange, that the wannabe president came out on top.
Trump had the temerity to apply spin to the Pope's anti-Trump warnings and in an unprecedented Papal put-down, painted the Pope as an ill-informed old dope on the receiving end of very bad advice.
This was swallowed with hardly a blink by the media and the masses letting Trump's audacious pushback pass in the God-fearing US where any politician who doesn't insert 'God Bless America' in a speech is treated with the greatest of suspicion, as is they were some sort of degenerate anti-Christ.
How does Trump manage to get away with it? By his saloon swagger we know that The Apprentice boss has major tickets on himself and probably kisses himself good night and good morning in his own bedroom (apparently the wife sleeps in a separate lady's chamber, preferring perhaps to slumber away from the noxious fumes of hair product, and to keep Him safe from any nasty menstrual toxins he is so afraid of in Media Women).
Trump's unstoppable success has become so massive it must even make him a little scared of his own greatness, as he runs through the extraordinary turn of events at the end of each day (soaking his highly excitable little right hand in a bucket of ice), knowing that apart from the fight ahead with Clinton in the race for president, he is untouchable.
His supporters are a vast cross-section of Americans who have been 'ghettoised' by decades of Occupy Bankers, the money monarchy who were bailed out by the American peasants after the global fiscal meltdown, the bankers then awarding themselves a huge pay rise while the workers' wages stagnated.
Making ends meet, juggling debt; and stressed out and insecure about employment and any hopes of future-proofing health requirements, savings and retirement, the gouged-out middle-class class is in a mood to revolt and is desperate for Trump to blow up the TPPA and tell the system that has so badly let them down: "You're fired".
Unfortunately for Senator Bernie Sanders, the bona fide, anti-establishment candidate who has a proven track record in public service and has managed to stay straight - unlike Porkie Clinton - he is by far the saner alternative but doesn't have the reality TV track record.
Season after season Trump turned up in the electorate's living rooms where they had the chance to familiarise themselves with the folly of his follicles and feel at home with The Boss.
To use a ghastly term, Trump has the "knowability" factor, a head-start on an electorate that for years in their low turnouts at the voting polls has regarded democracy as a spectator sport for the privileged only.
Could something like Trump happen in New Zealand? Singer Stan Walker has the God credentials and cleaned up in an Australian reality TV singing show - but he would frighten the secularists.
Perhaps it will fall to business man Art Green, no longer The Bachelor who, with his highly developed diplomatic skills, managed to string along a whole harem and still come out looking squeaky clean at the end of it. The Abs-ulator and his help mate, the wholesome Matilda, could be our next Trump cards.
- The Dominion Post