by G. Brown
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein remains one of the most chilling tales of what can go wrong when man in all his arrogance tries to emulate the power of God—creating a being that wants to be human. This new creation feels but doesn’t know how to control those emotions or how to relate to others. Doctor Victor Frankenstein dabbled with something he barely understood and created a monster who brought out the worst in people through their fears.
Shelley’s classic tale of warning has been told countless times in Hollywood through sci-fi movies like iRobot, Blade Runner and Jurassic Park. The entire plot hinges on what happens when science and technology form a devious and dangerous union.
So what happens when politics and technology form a devious union?
Donald Trump has become bigger than any reality TV star could ever dream of. His hate-filled tirades and off the cuff comments have been the lead story and top headline in news outlets for the past year. When a political race turns dirty there’s an old saying about the gloves have come off, meaning its fight time. The 2016 race makes you want to create a new saying about putting on muzzles to stop all the senseless chattering and inane insults.
Ultimately,Trump, his campaign managers, his PR flacks, his handlers and everybody else in his inner circle are definitely responsible for what spews out of their candidate’s mouth, but the media has played a big part in this monster show as well.
All the hate mongering and discord being tossed out by Trump leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many viewers, but it makes good TV. According to US News, this presidential race has been on par with the Super Bowl in term of generating viewers and revenue. According to US News, “the average cost of a 30-second ad during the first 10 presidential debates, between August and January, was approximately $61,000”—but that was before Trump’s daily dose of ‘let’s see what he says next’. By September, the price for a 30-second ad had skyrocketed 1,120 percent to a mind-blowing $200,000.
Following his latest insensitive comment last week suggesting that women who get abortions should be punished, Trump accused the media of treating him unfairly. He’s right—if he means he unfairly gets more coverage. According to CNN, Trump’s campaign is getting more than a quarter of all the coverage. Between January and November, while Trump was getting 234 minutes of news coverage on nightly newscasts, former candidates Jeb Bush only got 56 minutes and Ben Carson got 54 which still is a lot more than poor Ted Cruz who got only 7 minutes according to that CNN report.
The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah recently asked on his program, “How the F#%k did we get here?”. We got here by a lethal combination of greed, arrogance and an over inflated sense of I should be King (or President in this case).
There was a time when journalism was a more noble profession and news stations’ political coverage was governed by fairness. There was an unwritten rule that if you give one candidate 30 seconds of airtime, you had to offer equal time to their opponents. Trump has bragged often about how he’s using his own money to pay for his campaign, but if the numbers above are correct, Trump is using the networks’ dime (which is actually the advertisers dime that came from viewers who bought their products) to get more face time on TV. So, maybe Trump is smarter than the other guys or, at least, the main stream media. He’s figured out all he has to do is say something mean, hateful or crazy and he’ll top the news tonight with more free airtime. CBS chief executive Les Moonves recently did some bragging of his own about how much money Trump coverage is raking in for TV stations. Newscorpse quoted him as saying, “Who would have thought that this circus would come to town. It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS. That’s all I got to say. So what can I say? The money’s rolling in, this is fun.”
It is fun when a man can make fun of every race from Blacks to Latinos to Asians, practically instigate a race war single-handedly and publicly degrade women by basing their worth on whether or not he finds them attractive…yeah, so this what is fun feels like. And when the circus is over and Trump loses this election, let’s see which network will rush in to offer him more TV time, a new show or a spot as their political analyst (my guess is FOX).
Trump may be out of control, but he’s not the one broadcasting every absurd moment of his campaign. No, that’s the media which in this case is the Victor Frankenstein that created a media monster. The fictional Frankenstein actually was less of a monster and more misunderstood because he didn’t intend to incite fear that led to killer mobs. This media monster knows exactly what he’s doing…and it’s costing the country trust, integrity, and a willingness to fight for unity that we may never get back .