First of all- is this whole election proof these principles we study work, or what? The reason I’m so adamant about learning this stuff is because if the “bad guys” can win with it- imagine what WE can do? Am I right?
Do the math. America is now in its nineteenth straight month of Trumpworld. I bet my “Back To The Future” fans agree this is like waking up in 2017 after Biff found that sports almanac😩. There has not been a single week that’s gone by without Trump dominating headlines, cable news segments and Twitter feeds. Every time his critics declare he’s gone too far, another poll drops showing him bursting ahead of the competition.
Some examples: After journalists tore him to shreds for mocking then-rival Ben Carson’s claim to have stabbed a childhood friend back in the ghettoes of Compton, where he was raised- Trump shot ahead of Carson by 17 points. Following the terror attacks in Paris, Trump’s anti-immigration crusade, once seen as a major problem for him , boosted his numbers even higher.
Then there was his call to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. — whether they’re citizens or not 🙄🙄🙄– every move he makes baits the media into dedicating another week of coverage to another outrageous claim.
The common wisdom is that Trump is winging it… the common wisdom is wrong, as usual.
What some miss, is that Trump wrote pretty transparently- and specifically- about pursuing this exact strategy in his bestselling 1987 book, “The Art of The Deal.”
The only thing that’s changed is he’s moved from business to politics.
Trump on The Trump Media Strategy
“One thing I’ve learned about the press is they’re always hungry for a good story, and the more sensational, the better,” (page 56). “It’s in the nature of the job, and I understand that. The point is that if you are a little different, or a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you.”
“I don’t mind controversy, and my deals tend to be somewhat ambitious,” he added. “The result is that the press has always wanted to write about me.” His mentor Roy Cohn famously taught him- that there IS no bad publicity back in the 1980’s. But Trump has proven that it’s truer than ever. He even uncovered the mindset when, during a presidential debate he told Russia that if they hacked Hillarys’ emails they’d be “handsomely rewarded” by the media. Only someone acutely aware that attention = leverage would use those words.
He even anticipated, correctly I may add, that the media wouldn’t care whether a plan — back then a real estate development, nowadays, a policy — could actually work. They’d still dedicate gallons of ink, and terabytes of data marketing for him about it. “Most reporters, I find, have very little interest in exploring the substance of a detailed proposal for a development. They look instead for the sensational angle,” he wrote. “That may have worked to my advantage.”
He identified as a Democrat at the time, but Trump then said exactly what he does now:
“[W]hen people treat me badly or unfairly or try to take advantage of me, my general attitude, all my life, has been to fight back very hard,” he wrote. Whether it’s disparaging comedy shows like SNL or tweet-assaulting (is that a word- maybe twee-sault? No?) Meryl Streep after she sauteed him at an awards show, Trump is never above striking back at any perceived or real slight.
“The risk is that you’ll make a bad situation worse, and I certainly don’t recommend this approach to everyone. But my experience is that if you’re fighting for something you believe in — even if it means alienating some people along the way — things usually work out for the best in the end.”
Umm yeah- he uhhh, won the election.
Even his seemingly off-the-cuff calls into morning shows on Fox, CNN and MSNBC was strategy : “You need to generate interest, and you need to create excitement. One way is to hire PR people and pay them a lot of money to sell whatever you’ve got. But to me, that’s like hiring outside consultants to study a market. It’s never as good as doing it yourself.”
‘Exaggerate And Mean It!’
Trump gets more honest about his approach the further you read. By the end of his section on manipulating the media though, he does it: He gives us the jewel:
“The final key to the way I promote is BRAVADO. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do,” he writes on page 58. “That’s why a little ‘truthful hyperbole’ never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular.”
In closing- social scientists have discovered that maybe Trump is right: people are drawn to shameless narcissism, be it in the realm of politics, business, war or show business.
The Harvard Business Review has a study by Robert B. Kaiser and Professor Bartholomew Craig that darn near PREDICTED Trump, from his history-making contribution to cable TV ratings to his sensational Twitter presence.
“Narcissists’ desire to make a great initial impression enables them to disguise their arrogance as confidence, which they often achieve through humor and by being entertaining or eccentric,” The HBR said. “Unsurprisingly, narcissists perform well on interviews and they are excellent social networkers – you can even spot them by their social media activity.”