NASCAR is very popular, especially in the South. Literally hundreds of thousands of fans will go to Talladega or Daytona to the races. If you took a poll of the fans there, Donald Trump would be the presidential candidate of choice. Sure, there are mostly Southerners from Red States there, but it is also a psychology. See, most people that attend NASCAR races don’t go for the races. They go for the wrecks!
At superspeedways such as Talladega and Daytona, cars can travel in excess of 200 miles per hour. They also draft each other’s air stream and some even make contact with other cars, pushing them around the oval at even faster speeds. There can be three and sometimes four cars wide. If one makes the slightest error the chain reaction of crashes results in what the fans call “the big one”. “The Big One” is what the 200,000 fans go to see. THAT is why the media covers Trump incessantly.
Todays media is almost 100 percent ratings driven. In the 70s you had three networks with 30 minutes of news per day. That was it. Stories – even political ones- were limited to a few minutes per half hour in order to get to all the news. Wars (when was the last time you heard about our troops in the Middle East?), International events (how bout that coup in Brazil – did you hear??) and other stories had their own spots in the news. The emphasis then, by the three networks (four if you include PBS), was to get it right and get it first. Today’s news organization charge is to get the most sensational story possible and stay on it as long as people watch. People, amazingly enough, watch those stories 24/7. The news organizations charge is ratings based. Speed and accuracy have been left in the dust.
Give Trump credit. He understands that if he keeps saying and doing outrageous things, he will always have CNN, MSNBC and FOX to be there talking about it. He dominates news cycles. He is living by the old maxim that “all publicity is good publicity so long as they spell my name right”. If that is your philosophy, why should you pay for TV ads when you get just as much bang for the buck for doing stupid stunts and saying stupid things? And the NASCAR/Trump fans keep watching for the big one to happen. So what’s the big one in Trump world?
Trump likes to keep you guessing. He used the “P” word in a speech once. The late George Carlin would be so proud that his “seven words you can’t say on tv” are now being used by a Presidential Candidate on live tv. Trump commented on a FOX News anchor’s menstrual cycle. One of his fan boy opening acts wanted to execute Hillary Clinton. He refused to move away from Ku Klux Klan support for a time. He called Mexicans drug dealers and rapists. Then he attacks the media, thus driving them to report about themselves with abject horror. Did you hear that he wouldn’t pay for the media to to Mexico with him? How can that be? So, what’s the end game? Does anyone know? Can we glean an answer from “The Apprentice”?
Probably ten years ago a friend of mine and I were discussing all the reality shows. My friend made the argument that pretty soon we will be seeing live murders on tv. While they aren’t necessarily live, we have our choice of ISIS executions to look at day or night. Police killing body cam video is available. Does anyone care anymore how this effects children? Not the news media. They still get ratings from their fans. I’ll tell you a secret. Trump isn’t going to reveal his end game. No one would watch anymore. My father, who loved westerns used to say that Marshall Matt Dillon on “Gunsmoke” wouldn’t die because the tv network wanted us to tune in next week. Trump has the same philosophy. Keep them guessing and the media keeps right on coming back for more. If they knew the end game, the media might actually want to discuss “policy”. The last time you heard a policy discussion in this election, Bernie Sanders was still a candidate.
Bernie cared not for Clinton’s emails or Trump’s outrageous behavior. That’s why so many voters liked him. As Clinton found out in the debates, Bernie can turn any question into a policy discussion. When he got a question about his Jewish heritage which gave him a huge opportunity to appeal to Jewish voters, he modestly answered the question and turned his attention to discussing the Israel/Palestine problem. When Clinton tried to bait him about who was advising him on foreign affairs, he responded ‘it’s NOT Henry Kissinger” whose support Hillary still seeks and moved on. Bernie is the driver in the NASCAR race who rarely gets into accidents and just continues to rack up points for the Championship. Regrettably for him he came up a bit short. But his plan worked. So what is Trump’s plan? Do we know?
I suspect that Trump’s plan is, in NASCAR terms,, to drive as recklessly and offensively as possible and save the big one until late October. The problem is that he may get caught up in the big one. Then again, he might just cause it and beat Hillary to the finish line. That’s the result his fans want. But if not, they will still get to see the big one. And that’s what they really came to the race to see.