Nothing could so expose the mainstream media as an industry built on bashing Donald Trump like the rise of the star of Omarosa. She was born for trash media, particularly trash television. No one fuels a first-stage rocket like Donald Trump. To the fury of the media, no one can make a star shine brighter than the Donald, and every trashy scandal makes him stronger.
Since the revelation of secret Omarosa tapes began to play out, Omarosa — like others before her she achieves such fame that a single name identifies her forevermore — has received more television attention than she could have ever dreamed of as a first-timer on “The Apprentice.”
The mass-media hysteria over the mere possibility of 200 tapes — just one might have been enough — that could implicate the president in who knows what, was enough to explode wall-to-wall coverage of not very much, and that is only now starting to abate. Bombs, even nuclear bombs, “just ain’t what they used to be.”
So far, four tapes have been released, and none of them really implicates the president in anything more serious than that he can be vulgar, impulsive, crude and on occasion cryptic. But we knew that. Still, it’s hard not to dismiss the president’s own words, that “the media didn’t want interviews” when Omarosa worked in the White House.”
“Now that she says bad about me,” said the president in a tweet last week, “they will talk to her.”
Talk is an understatement. Over the span of a week, from Aug. 9 to Aug. 15, Omarosa became a cottage industry. The three main cable news networks combined devoted more than 34 hours covering Omarosa in a span of just seven days. According to the giddily left-wing website Media Matters, MSNBC devoted nearly 16 hours to Omarosa. CNN News, forever on the scout for something to replace the long-running story of the missing Malaysian airliner, clocked in at 13 hours. Fox News broadcast a relatively modest five-and-a-half hours to Omarosa.
That’s just cable. The enduring reality show B-lister appeared in a 20-minute-long interview on the network Sunday show “Meet the Press,” and hit a sort of apex with a 12-minute-long interview — which Omarosa herself cut short — on NBC’s “Today.” It didn’t end there, either, with Omarosa appearing again later that day on MSNBC, again the next day, again two days later, and again on Sunday in an interview with the eminent divine, the Rev. Al Sharpton, where she said Mr. Trump wants to start a “race war.” The Washington Free Beacon observed that Omarosa’s seven interviews totaling 92 minutes on air were worth $28 million in free advertising.
Nevertheless, with all that free advertising Omarosa’s new book, “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House,” hasn’t yet managed to hit Number 1 on the Amazon’s list of the top 100 selling books. That may be because reading requires a commitment of time and attention of the mind, and television doesn’t. The breathless coverage is still a boon, not just for Omarosa (her book made it to No. 2) or the various media using her insider accounts as grist for negative news about the president, but for the Donald himself.
Omarosa’s last appearance on a reality show was in February, two months after she was summarily escorted to the door by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, and 14 years after she appeared on small screen in the first season of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice.” On the second night of a three-night premier in “Celebrity Big Brother,” Omarosa said her time in the White House was haunted by the president’s tweets.
Tweets with the power to haunt are a presidential weapon never before used in the White House. The president’s power to taunt the media, and to know that it will take the bait every time, was revealed the day after Omarosa’s appearance on “Today.” That’s when, just as it seemed the Omarosa effect might be wearing off, and with the masses waiting with that famous bated breath (or more correctly this time the baited breath, Mr. Trump set off a bomb to rival the explosive power of the dread N-word. With one tweet, he set the talking heads’ hair on fire, calling Omarosa a “crazed, crying lowlife” and referring to her as “that dog.”
The president and the networks surely have a symbiotic relationship. It was the 24/7 wall-to-wall coverage of Candidate Trump in 2016, offset only by the pathetically klutzy Hillary Clinton, that put him in the White House. It’s the relentless attack by television that could keep him there.
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