RUSH: NPR Thursday, the Leonard Lopate Show. He spoke with a senior editor from The Atlantic, somebody named Derek Thompson who has a book called Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in the Age of Distraction. And Leonard Lopate, the host here at NPR, says, “Are political campaigns now just another form of entertainment, kind of like hit production? Are political campaigns basically forms of media companies now?”
THOMPSON: (haltingly) You can think of the White House as a movie studio with the president as its star, and these PR people as the means of distributing the president’s message. Politics. Is. Entertainment.
LOPATE: (whispering) If we were following the logic of your argument, cable and internet would have diminished the power of political commentators. But Rush Limbaugh is still very influential.
THOMPSON: Incredibly influential! And you’ve seen the power shift, uh, over time —
THOMPSON: — from broadcast networks, to cable network —
THOMPSON: — and then to talk radio.
THOMPSON: Right now I think we are truly seeing that only a president who sees himself as essentially a media company, but now a news ecosystem that sees itself as having to broadcast challenging messages against the White House. So, I mean, right now I think that the theme of “politics is entertainment” has never been more true.
RUSH: So, you see, ladies and gentlemen, Donald Trump and his election and his campaign had nothing to do with issues. Donald Trump, his presidency, his campaign, have nothing to do with ideas and substance and things having gone wrong in the country that people want fixed. No, no, no, no, no! It’s all just PR now. It’s all just a media show, and Trump is a fantastic entertainer. Why have I heard that analogy before? Oh. About me! I am alternately the leader of the Republican Party and then I am nothing more than an entertainer, depending on the mind-set of the left here.
The idea that there is no substance to Trump, that there is nothing related to issues or policy… This is another example of how the left is trying to comfort itself and lie to itself by telling themselves that their ideas weren’t rejected; they were just out-entertained. Trump just… He’s a better entertainer than Hillary was, and it’s a lament. (sobbing) “This is so bad. This is what politics has become! This is so bad for America. It’s just one giant entertainment show, and Trump’s a better entertainer, and Limbaugh has more influence than we thought he would ever have.
“Limbaugh was supposed to have faded away by now, but instead, Limbaugh’s more powerful than ever. This is not fair, and it’s not right.” That’s the sum total of this sound bite, ’cause the NPR guy, did you hear what he said? He said (whispering), “Well, if we were following the logic of your argument, cable and the internet would have diminished the power of political commentators, but Rush Limbaugh is still very influential.” “Incredibly influential!” says the guest, “and you’ve seen the power shift over time from the broadcast…” I actually think these guys are a couple years behind what is going on and what has gone on, but…
I really do. I think both these guys have missed what’s happening here by two years. But if we go over here… (interruption) Let me explain that later, ’cause there’s a transition I want to make here. Because there is a Politico story featuring noted presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, and Brinkley’s story is essentially how Trump is basically non-substantive, is off his rocker. Let me get the headline with this thing real quickly if I can, ’cause I only printed the last page ’cause it’s all it’s got, but now I realize… I can’t find it. Here we go. This is it. Nope. Is this right?
“Trump reviews top White House…” It’s a story; it’s not about Brinkley. He’s quoted. It’s a Politco story about how Trump’s White House is imploding, and basically about Michael Flynn on his way out, to be followed by Bannon. Reince Priebus? Reince Priebus is on the way out today. Reince Priebus is done; Bannon is gonna be done ’cause Trump’s gonna fire on him because the media think’s Bannon’s president and Trump is just a placeholder. This is the way they’re working it in this story that’s in The Politico. There’s a quote from Douglas Brinkley, presidential historian, who recently met with Trump.
He said, “The presidency has been ‘off to the rockiest start I can remember,'” quote/unquote. “The Trump presidency,” Douglas Brinkley says, is “‘off to the rockiest start I can remember.'” Then he said this: “Everything he rolls out is done so badly. It reeks of being short-staffed and not having a true pecking order of production from the White House. They’re just releasing comments, tweets and policies willy-nilly. It’s been a very convulsive and confusing first few weeks, but nevertheless it’s been salad days if you care about Republican policies.”
Well, bingo, there it is! So here we have over at NPR Leonard Lopate and an author of a book saying (impression), “There’s no substance to Trump. Oh, no! It’s purely entertainment now. Politics is the entertainment, and Trump’s a better the entertainer than Hillary. Trump’s a better entertainer than the Democrats have — and now he’s goes on Limbaugh on his side, they’re doubling down on us and we have no prayer.” Then you go over to Douglas Brinkley and he says, “If you care about Republican policies,” the Trump administration “has been the salad days.”
Exactly, because it’s filled with substance! There are issues and ideas. Donald Trump has rolled out more substance — or tried to — in the first three weeks of his presidency than you normally get in the first six months to nine months of your average presidency. In fact, some people are saying, “Slow down. You’re going too fast. You’re trying to do too much.” But over at NPR, that’s just entertainment now. It’s not really substance and issues. So the left can’t even come together on how it is they want to oppose Trump, other than to say he’s mentally unstable.
And how did that work out for ’em? And that was Hillary’s number one campaign platform plank: “Trump’s unsuitable. Trump’s not prepared. Trump’s insane. Trump’s mentally maladjusted. Trump is a lunatic. Trump is dangerously unhinged! We don’t want him or his finger anywhere near the nuclear codes.” They just keep recycling this stuff., and they don’t realize that it is they who are devoid of issues. It is they who are imploding. It is they to seem to have no cohesive unity, and it is them that — no matter what they do — they can’t stop Trump.
RUSH: Yeah. You have to remember, folks, about the media, most of them never got anywhere near a Trump rally. Most of them never watched one on TV or actually listened to one. So you who voted for Trump who did hear everything he said — those of you who attended his rallies — you know what his issue-oriented agenda is, and you know that since even before he was inaugurated he has begun to implement much of that agenda. So you’re happy. As Brinkley said, “[I]t’s been salad days if you care about Republican policies.” But the media, they didn’t go.
Those who were there didn’t really pay any attention to it ’cause they thought Trump never had a chance; this was just Looney Tunes. They went out there because they were obligated to, but they paid no attention to it. So everything Trump is doing… I’m not exaggerating. The Trump agenda is a shock to them. They didn’t pay any attention to it. We know this! They gave the Trump campaign no serious chance whatsoever. They lied to themselves. They lied to Hillary. They lied via their polls.
The media is — as much as anybody — responsible for the Democrat loss by creating in inevitability of a Hillary win in everybody’s mind, and they didn’t take Trump seriously. Here comes Trump. He gets elected, he starts implementing the agenda, and they’re outraged. But yet anybody that paid any attention knew exactly what was coming, and it’s come. It’s on schedule. Some things are lagging. I mean, the implementation of the agenda is well underway, and the Drive-Bys are beside themselves. They don’t know what to do, how to react to it.