By Roland S. Martin
America, as a nearly 20-year professional journalist, it is with the utmost sadness that I offer to you a heartfelt and sincere apology for my industry’s creation and spectacle of the individual we all know — some love and others despise — as Donald John Trump Sr.
For the last two decades, my beloved media industry has chronicled every crazy antic, sadistic statement, business announcement, marriage, divorce, birth announcement and the selling of multiple products. It’s as if our livelihood depends on showering gobs of ink and airtime on “The Trump.”
We have afforded him the kind of respect normally reserved for people who have truly made a major difference in this world. Instead, the builder of gaudy buildings — replete with the kind of extravagance that would make a Saudi oil titan blush — has demanded that he be referred to as Mr. Trump. When he walks into a room, head turns, women faint and men quickly realize they are mere mortals compared to the indomitable Mr. Donald Trump. He is truly the most interesting man in the world (tongue planted firmly in cheek).
Yet with his flirtation with running for the Republican nomination for president of the United States, we have finally pulled the curtain back from this Wizard of the Weird. And what has been revealed is a man so obsessed with the sound of his voice that even when he lies, he pretends that it is the absolute truth.
Fact? What fact? I will just dismiss that with the wave of the hand or just refer to the press as Obama lovers to settle that.
With his rampant lying about President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, Trump dominated the airwaves, pushing aside any discussions about real issues of the day. With breathless promos, respected TV networks and their anchors, correspondents and reporters actually held interviews with Trump, seemingly giving him the benefit of the doubt as he continued to advance his lies.
Instead of starting every interview with the most important question, “Donald, why do you keep lying?” we fell for the okey doke as if his joining of the birther movement somehow gave their wild, outlandish and untruthful view a dose of credibility.
Magazines, newspapers and online sources also got in on the act by running a number of stories, taking his pronouncements of running for the presidency seriously and even commissioning polls that showed Republican voters held him in high regard. All based on the hyping of a lie?
All of this created a firestorm of media attention, which all culminated in the coverage of President Obama’s news conference actually releasing his long-form birth certificate.
In addition, on that day, what did we see? A split screen of President Obama and “The Trump,” who was beaming like a proud hunter who bagged his prey.
Folks, the lavish attention paid to Trump — not only over the last few months but also over the last two decades — has been pathetic and morbidly obese. And no one in the media wants to own up to the reason why respected journalists actually would ask Trump about his opinion on domestic policy and world affairs. Trump is an attention grabber and a ratings magnet. Or as Robert Traynham, host of Comcast’s “Roll Call TV,” said on my TV One show, “Washington Watch,” on Sunday: “He makes good copy.”
Folks, therein is the real issue. Ask any real journalist and he or she will laugh at the crazy things that Donald Trump says. They will admit that his only knowledge about foreign policy is the Miss Universe pageant, but because viewers and readers love to rubberneck at the scene of an accident, it is great to see the potential train wreck when he opens his mouth.
I have had producers tell me their show ratings go up when he’s on. Forget the fact that what he says is a joke, news operations nationwide have allowed themselves to be pimped into running his outlandish comments. None of the major news organizations in this country is immune from doing this. NONE.
So, why should any journalist be shocked that Trump would be so callous and ridiculous in joining the birther crowd? He knew we would eat it up, giving him tons of airtime to spew his garbage. But like crack addicts in need of a fix, Trump is willing to supply us that hit so we can achieve that high, no matter how devastating it is to our system.
The destruction he left in his wake didn’t matter. As long as got what we wanted — more ratings, newsstand sales and record page views — and he got the attention that he desired, everyone was happy.
America, for this, I am sorry. I am sorry that my media brothers and sisters failed in being honest with you. I’m sorry that even as we patted ourselves on the back for our tough interviews with him on the birther issue, it does not negate the many times that respected journalists actually interviewed the gossip page mainstay about serious matters.
We fed the beast for years, and none of us should be shocked to see the beast go on a rampage. Again, America, I’m sorry.
Let’s just hope that respectable news organizations will remember the last couple of months and leave Donald Trump and those like him in the celebrity news trash bin.
Roland S. Martin is an award-winning CNN analyst and the author of the book “The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as originally reported by Roland S. Martin.” Please visit his website at www.RolandSMartin.com. To find out more about Roland S. Martin and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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