Farewell, dear Donald Trump. At least, I hope this is farewell.
In his own way, for 17 straight months, Trump has been very generous to journalists. He has bestowed upon us endless fodder for news cycles, quips, thinkpieces, diatribes; in an era when media organizations have struggled to land in the black, he has provided page views (and thus ad impressions) aplenty.
Not sure what to gab about for your next TV segment, or blog about for your next post? The great Trump provides. Maybe it’s a new outrage, mock-worthy conspiracy theory or can-you-believe-this-guy gaffe. But there’s always been ample material, easy to understand and to disseminate, and often requiring minimal investment of expensive investigative resources.
As Leslie Moonves, chief executive of CBS, said in February, “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.”
Moonves’s comment was widely criticized at the time. It’s hard to quibble with his underlying premise, though: Trump’s antics have been unmistakably positive for the media’s bottom lines — at least in the near term — even as they have made media elites wince. Calls for “media blackouts” of Trump, to stop giving him the equivalent of billions in free advertising, were doomed from the start; as with any cartel-enforced embargo, there was too great an incentive to cheat and snatch up any available eyeballs that a blackout-observing competitor might leave on the table.
We have been, in short, in a sort of toxic, codependent relationship with the Republican nominee. Many of us who are paid to express opinions openly despise him. We attack his bigotry, bravado, misogyny, authoritarian impulses and anti-intellectualism in every tweet and turn.
He likewise claims to openly despise us. He verbally abuses us, bans us from his rallies (while still giving us hours and hours of interviews), sics angry mobs upon us, employs staffers who think nothing of physically assaulting us, encourages anti-Semitic followers to harass us and inspires rallygoers who advocate lynching us.
And yet, whatever our mutual disdain, we have clearly needed one another. For more than a year, Trump and the media have been the best of frenemies.
But whatever benefit Trump’s endless gush of outrages may have provided to my industry, my employer and myself, I will be very much relieved when (if) the spigot is finally turned off as a result of Tuesday, when (if) Trump loses; and when (if) there is no longer any reward for continuing to cover him, his awful surrogates, his soulless campaign staffers and the many bizarre Trumpian moments and memes that have dominated 2016.
In fact, nothing would please me more than if the column you are reading becomes the very last Trump-related column I am ever tempted to write. Unless of course I get to review the appearance I assume he’ll eventually make on “Dancing With the Stars.”
Maybe I’m being naive. But here’s what I expect (hope) to be saying as the numbers roll in late Tuesday night. Apologies to Margaret Wise Brown, author of the toddler-Trump-era classic “Goodnight Moon”:
Goodbye ill-fitting suit.
Goodbye “big league”
Goodbye “like a dog”
Goodbye Pepe the Frog.
Goodbye Muslim ban
Goodbye John Barron
Goodbye orange tan.
Goodbye looser libel laws
and beauty-queen flab
Goodbye “Article XII,”
Goodbye p---y grab.
Goodbye contractors suing
Goodbye blood from wherever
Goodbye poll unskewing.
Goodbye deplorables, one and all.
And goodbye Trump
Whom I next hope to see
Only, and I mean only, on the new Trump TV.
Read more on this topic: