Margaret Valenti suggests that journalists stop making Donald Trump the center of the narrative — he likes it too much. It seems to only help him get the attention he craves and continues to bolster his reelection campaign.
I went to finish another article about what in my mind is the next train wreck in the Trump administration. Then, I realized I am repeating myself. I am writing the same thing I wrote last week, the same thing I wrote the week before that, and the week before that.
To me, the whistleblower scandal is barely worth writing about because it reveals the same thing about the current President that we all know: he is an egomaniac who refuses to respect the basic foundations of democracy with the help of his Republican allies, has no respect for the office he holds or the people he leads, and engages in every form of discrimination imagineable; he is willing to let foreign governments interfere in U.S. elections and undermines the system of checks and balances that exists by disregarding Congress; he ignores U.S. intelligence agencies because they impede his ability to use the presidency the way he wants to.
It is the same article every week and I am sick and tired of rewriting it. At this point, it seems we are numb to this administration. Despite the efforts of politicians and journalists, I cannot find it within myself to create meaning out of yet another blatant display of wrongdoing by a President who simply does not understand that he is not above the law. There is something deeply wrong about this President and his administration that we cannot ignore and, yet, he remains in office and is currently bullying his way to reelection with a campaign of slander and misstatements.
Obviously, I will keep writing about this administration for as long as I have the opportunity to, the problems in our society cannot be ignored. Yet, I cannot help but feel as if I, and other journalists, are giving Trump the biggest megaphone the world has known and by giving him that megaphone we may as well already applaud his 2020 victory, just as we were accused of doing in 2016.
Take Away His Megaphone
Trump is so disrespectful to the legitimate press, why do we still put him in the center? As we write him into history every day, I think about a saying I learned in high school that history is written by the winners, not the losers. Every time Trump does something, the media focuses on him, and focuses less on the people he hurts and the people who fight back on a daily basis. To him, even bad press is good press.
There is very little media coverage surrounding the workers, immigrants, women, children, the people who fight against him, the protesters, and other victims of Donald Trump’s presidency. Even when politicians and presidential candidates say we need to stop talking about Donald Trump and fight the true injustices in the U.S., they still find a way to loop him into every single debate. He is the center of a hurricane, a force that is hard to escape from if you are already trapped inside of it.
Maybe, just maybe, it order for him to lose we need to stop writing about Trump. Create a Trump media blackout. Make him and his allies the secondary information in a story, as if they happened to be there. The true writers of history need to be the people impeaching him, the people holding protests, and the people he hurts: the victims of his presidency. Instead of giving him the largest platform with the largest megaphone, give him a baby monitor to scream out of.
Give literally anyone else the megaphone; Give it to Emma Gonzales or Greta Thunberg; Give it to Bernie Sanders or Jay Inslee or Alexandria Ocasio Cortese or Ilhan Omar; Give it to Blossom C. Brown; Give it to congressmen like the late Elijah Cummings, who fought for civil rights and equality and was a driving force in the current impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump from his deathbed. Rest in Power, Elijah Cummings.
Trump Media Blackout
Part of me knows that a Trump media blackout is unreasonable and probably impossible and irresponsible, especially when this President is making decisions that will have catastrophic consequences for our history, but maybe giving Trump a media blackout is what we need as a country. Of course, we still need to keep the population informed about what he is doing in the U.S. and around the globe.
Yet, imagine what no Donald Trump-driven media articles in a single day would look like? Can you hear how peacefully quiet it is? Is it nice, or nicer? We all know what his reaction will be, he will go nuts. As much as he hates the media, he needs the media, which is indicative of a very one-way and toxic relationship. Yet, he would be getting exactly what he deserves. He does not deserve a single moment of our time or a single page in our history books when all of his shenanigans are transcribed for posterity. He deserves an erasure from the center of a narrative that is being fought by Millenial and Gen-Z activists.
Instead of the headline “Trump Has A Meltdown,” how about “Nancy Pelosi And Dems Stand Up To Trump During Heated Briefing?” Instead of “43 New Allegations Of Sexual Assault Against Trump,” how about “43 Women Accuse Trump Of Sexual Misconduct In Insightful New Book, All The President’s Women?”
Think of how much smarter it would be if we took the megaphone out of Trump’s hands and placed the focus somewhere else, or at least make him a secondary part of the narrative? Not changing the story or ignoring the daily news, but shifting the focus and the effect just enough so that Trump is not the primary focus. Certainly, there are some stories that he is the center of, but he is not the only player on the field and is almost never in control of the ball.
We need to give other people control of the stories, lest we perpetuate Donald Trump’s absolute control over the media’s obsession with breaking news. It is a different way of thinking about breaking news, but it is a strategy I myself might try in an effort to shift the narrative out of Donald Trump’s hands and into more capable ones. Donald Trump, I want you to know what it feels like to be erased from the pages of history. It is exactly what you deserve.