Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Trump Institute Scam And The Media's Complicity

Yesterday's New York Times had an expose of yet another scam fronted by neo- fascist Republican bankruptcy expert Donald "Rump" Trump.  Behold "Trump Institute:"
As with Trump University, the Trump Institute promised falsely that its teachers would be handpicked by Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump did little, interviews show, besides appear in an infomercial — one that promised customers access to his vast accumulated knowledge. “I put all of my concepts that have worked so well for me, new and old, into our seminar,” he said in the 2005 video, adding, “I’m teaching what I’ve learned.” 
Reality fell far short. In fact, the institute was run by a couple who had run afoul of regulators in dozens of states and had been dogged by accusations of deceptive business practices and fraud for decades. Similar complaints soon emerged about the Trump Institute. 
Yet there was an even more fundamental deceit to the business, unreported until now: Extensive portions of the materials that students received after paying their seminar fees, supposedly containing Mr. Trump’s special wisdom, had been plagiarized from an obscure real estate manual published a decade earlier.  (our emphasis)
The common denominator in these Rump- branded enterprises is the conscience- free defrauding of rubes looking to get rich quick.  By trading on his supposed vast expertise in real estate speculation =cough= four bankruptcies =cough=,  Rump was able to convince the gullible that he could make them rich just like him -- for a modest fee.  Now that Rump is one election away from installing his ugly brand of know- nothing neo- fascism in the White House, the media is suddenly taking a more critical look at what he bases his reputation on -- his business dealings, i.e., his trafficking in shady schemes like Trump "University" and, now, Trump "Institute."

Even though this kind of Rump- as- charlatan business dealing has been going on for decades, the media has largely played along with Rump's well- cultivated image as an expert to be sought out and consulted. David A. Hopkins (h/t Daily Kos) traces the phenomenon of Rump as the uncritical media's creature back several decades:
... For decades, Trump has benefited from media coverage that not only has made him a household name, but has also portrayed him as having skills that would be generally considered assets in the world of politics. Trump managed to build a national reputation as an exceptionally shrewd businessman and negotiator through popular media accounts, and his years of appearances on morning shows, newsmagazines, and interview programs like Larry King Live often invited him to comment on current events under the assumption that his business success naturally gave him valuable insight on the political topics of the day.
The volume and generally deferential character of this media attention encouraged Trump to flirt with a political career as early as the late 1990s. His later phase as an outspoken critic of Barack Obama was similarly given substantial amplification by national media outlets; Trump made regular appearances on Fox News Channel (including a weekly "Monday Mornings with Trump" feature on Fox and Friends) and CNBC during much of Obama's presidency, treated once again as a captain of industry who could boast substantial expertise on the subject of politics.
The many Rump scams and pathologies over the years -- from Trump "University" and Trump "Institute" to Rump's noxious spreading of conspiracy theories in major media outlets -- were never seriously vetted in the media.  Now we're all paying for this long term media willingness to play along with this dangerous, narcissistic demagogue.

BONUS:  Melissa McEwan sees the gender bias in the treatment of Rump over the years.

No comments: