Only 12 days into his presidency, Donald Trump has made TV unbearable.
And on Tuesday night, he means to make it even worse by elbowing his way into prime time to announce his pick for Supreme Court justice. The news channels will carry it, and then discuss it for hours, if not days.
On Tuesday morning, it was unclear to what extent the broadcast networks would preempt or disrupt their Tuesday night lineups to make room for Donald. Maybe that depends on how long the Attention-Getter in Chief intends to keep this show going.
Network programs standing in the line of fire at 8 p.m. Eastern (the time the great statesman decreed via Twitter that he would appear) include “The Middle” on ABC, “NCIS” on CBS and ironically, the game show on NBC known as “The Wall” (it’s not about that wall).
It would be a welcome change of pace if all the networks -- both broadcast and cable -- decided to simply ignore him today, but that’s about as likely as moths suddenly developing a resistance to porch lights.
For the news channels, the 24-hour antics of the Mess-maker in Chief are like manna from heaven. The promotional copy on the Fox News Channel Web site Tuesday morning read like the circus was coming to town.
“His most important decision?!,” read this strangely punctuated blurb for Tuesday night’s 7 p.m. hour on Fox News anchored by Martha MacCallum. “Right before Trump’s Supreme Court choice, Martha [bold-faced by Fox News] looks at how the pick will affect our country’s future.” What? No exclamation point here?
For the 8 p.m. hour, the copy went like this: “President Trump will announce his Supreme Court pick, and Bill [bold theirs] will be LIVE [caps theirs] when it happens. Don’t miss The O’Reilly Factor [this was not only in bold, but in red too].”
OK, fine. You can’t blame a news channel for promoting its shows. But the way Trump is being covered on the news channels is not very different from the way sports is covered and discussed on ESPN and elsewhere -- basically a couple of loudmouths sitting around talking. And talking and talking.
Trump has been so antsy in his first week-plus five days -- like a child sitting in the backseat during a long family road trip -- that the concept of the “slow-news day” has suddenly been chucked out the car window. You can turn on the TV now at any time and find that Trump has just done something you didn’t know about two hours ago.
Monday night, for example, when casually checking out a news channel or local TV newscast, you learned that unbeknownst to you, Trump had just fired an interim attorney general you had never heard of.
Now you suddenly knew all about her and what she had said to get herself canned -- two things you might never have ever learned if not for Trump turning every molehill into a mountain and the TV news apparatus eagerly enabling him to do so.
Trump’s hyperactivity has even infiltrated the weekend. Instead of weekend evening newscasts whose story rundowns customarily reek of desperation, you now have all sorts of photogenic chaos -- mainly, protest marches involving hundreds of thousands of people who ordinarily would be catching up on sleep or household chores on Saturday and Sunday. Instead, all of America now seems stirred up like a giant anthill that has just been kicked by a small boy.
On Monday night (and other nights too), the subject of Trump was inescapable. He and his executive orders were being discussed and reported on all of the news outlets -- 24-hour cable, network evening news, local news at 6, 10 and 11 -- and on the late-night shows where 90% of the monologue jokes are now about Trump.
If TV is a reflection of our society (which it is), then the image we’re seeing in the mirror is unsettling to say the least. Maybe that’s what you get when the president you’ve elected learned everything he felt he ever needed to know by being on television.
Over-saturation usually leads to a steep ratings decline, and finally, ... cancellation.
Netflix and Amazon. Sorry but I used to have MS or CNN on as white noise while I work...no more. I can't watch this mess. Maybe networks will get the message that all Trump noise all the time is a turnoff. Yeah some people think it's like a bad train wreck but this surely Adam IS unwatchable.
Fun, but backwards: Trump hasn't made TV unbearable. TV has made Trump unbearable. TV Everywhere eventually reduces everything to utter banality, our democracy not least. If the medium is the message and we are all totally addicted to the medium, what happens to the message?
Both those things are true, surely. I used to be annoyed that people making lots of money off sports delayed programs I wanted to watch (and had paid for), now it's the Trump intrusion that's doing the same thing. No doubt he wants to control the news agenda. I'm turning the TV off far more often than I used to, I expect others are too.
I have to say, I'd never in my life heard the short list of candidates for the next Supreme Court justice referred to as "The Finalists." But even CNN was calling them that. I half expected them to say he was going to announce the "winner" at 8, 7 Central.
Teddy Roosevelt had coverage like Trump. Teddy loved working with thePress and saw them as essential to getting his message out and getting things done, and they followed him the same way as is happening now. Trump is getting his message out the same way, adn probably solidifying his base, even if it is adversarial with the press this time.
What a lot of people are finding irritating and unpalatable is the WAY Trump uses the press: using them to get distorted facts and outright lies to the masses, while blasting them with scorn and second-grader temper tantrums for putting documented and provable facts out there. I'm not claiming the media is lily white, but wouldn't it be lovely if this man's word was his bond?