Commentary

Will Trump Have A Media Enemies List?

While it was happening over the last several months,  I wondered how various columnists, show hosts, performers, publications and Web sites would recover if Donald Trump got elected.

The media may have done a terrible job covering this election, but along the way, some outlets and opinion makers stated their anti-Trump messages without any of the softening pundits often do to leave themselves some "I got to work in this town" wiggle room. Because they were sure he wouldn't be there on Nov. 9. 

So, until right now, Huffington Post ended every one of its stories about candidate Donald Trump with the postscript reminding readers:

"Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar,rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S."

Other publications, online and print, and via video, issued similar conclusive judgments against Trump but not as boilerplate as HuffPo's.  I’m not disputing their opinion which, based on things Trump has said, is solidly grounded in fact. But now, for four years, people like Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and Seth Meyers, or the places that hired them, may not feel much love.

It was Meyers who concluded about Trump's role in the birther controversy: “The bottom line is this: Trump built his career on a racist lie because he’s a racist and a liar, and instead of denouncing that lie, the GOP doubled down on it completely,” Meyers continued. “And now Trump is trying to trick people once again that he was never really a birther at all, and that it was Hillary Clinton that started it.”

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Even Garrison Keillor, the recently retired host of “Prairie Home Companion,” belittled Trump in a Washington Post op-ed, asserting that Trump is a just a sad billionaire no one likes.

In another essay, he concluded: “We made our mistakes back in the 20th century, Lord knows, but we never nominated a man for president who brags about not reading. Calvin Coolidge had his limits. Warren G. Harding spent more time on his hair than strictly necessary. Lyndon Baines Johnson was a piece of work. But all of them read books. When I envision a Trump Presidential Library, I see enormous chandeliers and gold carpet and a thousand slot machines. God help us. I mean it. We’re in trouble down here.”

Now, America’s media get something it certainly didn’t want: President Trump.

If there is an ounce of vindictiveness in Trump’s body -- and I’d guess there are really a couple hundred pounds of it -- some very major media are going to have trouble getting access to the White House.  For Web sites, cable channels, newspaper columnists, (and Ohio Gov. John Kasich), it could be they’ll get the kind of treatment supporters at Trump’s rallies showed protesters in their midst.  

It could get nastier than that.

The FCC controls TV licenses. Business has long feared an angry president could wreck a network and its stations, or just make life ugly.  After media-loathing President Nixon gave a speech about the Vietnam War, the Nixon-appointed FCC chairman called the networks and demanded transcripts of their post-speech commentaries.  Feel that chill?

At least that was within the ugly realm of official overreach by a U.S. agency charged with overseeing the communications industry. But it’s not just a skewering of “Saturday Night Live” to watch for. It's Viacom called to account for all those wiseacres at Comedy Central, and of course, CBS' Leslie Moonves called in to defend Colbert, who mocked Trump even in his moment of triumph early this morning. 

Imagine what President Trump, or his ardent supporters  could say (or do)  about the next mocking viral video on YouTube, the next mean parody on "Funny or Die," someone tweaking of Melania on Refinery29, or an expose of Trump’s business dealings on Vice?

You might say, hey, there’s no law! And there isn’t. But we’ve never had a sheriff like this before, either, coming to town with some scores to settle. He may have a different definition of Net neutrality. 

pj@mediapost.com
5 comments about "Will Trump Have A Media Enemies List?".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, November 9, 2016 at 2:41 p.m.

    Trump has bigger fish to fry. And if you think he is somehow special, go Google "Obama enemies list" for comparison.

  2. pj bednarski from MediaPost.com replied, November 9, 2016 at 3:19 p.m.

    I understand. The difference is that Obama's and Nixon's (and I assume others) were based on perceived offenses while those men were in elective office, and I would guess, were more about leaks and policy disagreements. Trump's will be about being made fun of. 

  3. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, November 9, 2016 at 5:18 p.m.

    Would come to anyone surprise if it happened?  No, it shouldn't it.  Hillary didn't go on O'Reilly's show or a number of Fox News shows.  Yet Hillary got a meeting with Black Lives Matter. This was what was the tipping point for Hillary's lose. She reach out to minorities but not working middle class whites and the main stream press didn't think it was wrong.  The work white class took get offense to the press not listening to them.

    The press has to go back and learn to be fair to both Trump and the issues or Trump will slam the door in your face.

  4. dorothy higgins from Mediabrands WW, November 10, 2016 at 1:09 p.m.

    It will be fine with me if Trump doesn't show up on any shows I might be inclined to watch or give interviews in any print media I read.  I think this itself is a bit of sensationalist journalist in suggesting Trump would be able to use his treatment by the press to control licensing etc. We do still have a system of checks and balances and a Congress with many Democrats. 

  5. Chuck Lantz from 2007ac.com, 2017ac.com network replied, November 10, 2016 at 6:57 p.m.

    I think Craig makes a fair point; ... Clinton should have appeared on Fox and other popular GOP programs. Even though their audiences would be overwhelmingly against her, she had nothing to lose, and could have very possibly captured some support from those who were still on the fence, though leaning towards Trump.

    Instead, the Clinton campaign chose to essentially mimic the Trump campaign by insulting the "other side", which is never a good idea, especially in a close race. If your plan is to take the high road, even one slip, such as the "deplorables" comment, immediately puts you on the same level as Trump.

    And while I'm slamming campaign tactics, this is as good a place as any to ask who it was in the Clinton camp who thought it was a good idea to have her point-out friends in the audience with a big grin? That's rude to the TV audience.

    Even worse, Clinton's huge, extremely inappropriate smiles every time Trump was making some outrageous statement or insult during the debates was just plain weird and a bit creepy. While I understand why she was coached to do that, whatever nuanced effect they were after would have gone right over the heads of many viewers. A wry or "are you serious?" smile; yes. But instead we got a "I don't understand what language that man is speaking, so I'd better react like he's complimenting me" smile; ... wrong, wrong, wrong, ... to quote The Great Pumpkin.

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