"Publicity can be terrible. But only if you don't have any." - Jane Russell
"There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary." - Brendan Behan
"I have bought golden opinions from all sorts of people." - William Shakespeare
This is not actually a political post. Okay, it is. A little. This post is about Donald Trump, but it is not about my views on Trump or his politics. What this post is about is some recent experiences having to do with Donald Trump.
Now that Trump is the presumptive Presidential nominee of the Republican party, his campaign is swinging into general election mode. (Is it me or does the word "presumptive" sound like something you might associate with a disease such as tuberculosis?) Of course, we all know what that means - talk about the Democrats (or the Republicans depending on which party you are campaigning for), speeches geared more toward winning an election than toward winning a party's nomination, and the dreaded robo-calls.
One day last week, I received four such calls from the Trump campaign in the course of a few hours. Since I hung up on each call after a few seconds, I can only conclude the call-backs were based on an assumption I was having phone trouble and that the campaign never entertained the possibility I was not interested in the message. (My own assumption is that political campaigns often assume political views based on geographical location.)
I have been called by the Trump campaign (or on behalf of it) close to a dozen times now, and each call has started out the exact same way. My assumption is that they want to make sure I hear and understand the first message before additional messages are sent my way, but who knows?
My other recent experience having to do with Donald Trump is more disconcerting or surreal, depending on how you view such things.
This past Friday, we went out to a local restaurant/bar to have a few drinks and listen to some live local music. Behind the bar, big-screen television was playing with no sound. The channel on display was what I must now refer to as The Network Formerly Known As CNN.
During the three hours we were at this local establishment, every story I happened to see displayed on the television screen had to do with Donald Trump in some way, shape, or form: Trump disavowing controversial comments made by his former butler, Trump stating that his call for a ban on travel by Muslims to the United States was "only a suggestion," Trump denying that he once posed as his own publicist in a series of telephone calls to news outlets in the early 1990s.
Okay, perhaps not every story dealt with Trump - one headline did state that Bill Clinton feels Hillary is facing the same kinds of attacks he faced in 1992, and the news ticker underneath did stream a few non-Trump related headlines at a speed few people would read - but you get the general idea.
It reminds me a little of the old joke, "I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out."
I came away from the evening glad that I no longer work in anything remotely related to journalism and also glad that I am more interested these days in music than in politics. I have a much better grip on my own personal sanity and my blood pressure as a result.
I am also forced to conclude that we have helped to create the ineffectual government we complain about by allowing the creation of Super PACs where donors can hide behind a cloak of anonymity; by allowing unlimited spending on political campaigns, thereby forcing our elected officials to spend a disproportionate amount of their time on raising money toward and campaigning for re-election; by replacing true debate on issues with 30-second soundbites and Facebook memes; and by the 24-hour news cycle and the desire to be first.
I decided to close with a quote from Edward R. Murrow, still seen by some in the industry as the patron saint of broadcast journalism. I had a plethora of quotes to choose from, but I'll close with these:
"The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue."
"We are in the same tent as the clowns and the freaks — that's show business."