Let’s say, just for argument’s sake, that you don’t like Donald Trump.
You wouldn’t be on your own, but oddly there’s not much comfort in that.
Let’s say you think he may be the worst American president ever.
That you see his lack of attention to detail as being dangerous to world peace, his slavish adherence to the preferences of his business pals being lethal to the environment and his attitude to women downright appalling.
That you wish he had not happened, would go away, would not win a second term, and — at the very least — would stop tweeting.
If this sums up your stance, then you will have been thrilled if you heard, last week, that the Daily Mail and Guardian had advance copies of a new book by Omarosa Manigault Newman which, it seemed, was going to once and for all nail Trump as a racist.
You will have been doubly thrilled when NBC news announced on Friday that they too had a copy and were going to run major interviews with the author over the weekend on nationwide TV.
It looked as if every negative belief firmly held, at least on the Democrat side, about the president was going to be confirmed, with evidence, in a hugely damaging way.
One of his own former staffers was going to excoriate him in a way he would have difficulty dismissing in his usual style: As fake news disseminated by mainstream media outlets with an established track record of prejudice against him.
The African-American former staffer had first appeared in Trump’s life on his reality TV show, The Apprentice, going on to work for him in the White House as his director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison.
For her to be coming out at this point, accusing him, inter alia, of racism, might just be the intervention that would serve as the tipping point, because, let’s face it, commentators all over the world who had consistently adopted an approach of “shock, horror” in response to virtually everything Trump has done in office, had reached a point where they were wondering if he was impregnable to negativecoverage which would have done in any of his predecessors.
Anybody in the business of PR or marketing for book publishers will have envied the efficacy of the leak approach. It meant that on each side of the Atlantic, expectations would be raised in response to sensational allegations contained therein.
The book was a guaranteed best- seller before it ever hit the shelves of bookstores.
A PR professional might have been a bit concerned about the fact that NBC made it clear in their publicity that they had received their copy of the book directly from the publisher,
because anything that establishes PR favouritism to one media outlet right royally tees off every other media outlet, motivating them to spoil the party by finding things wrong with the book or its author.
But sometimes the excitement generated by the book overcomes even that problem and makes the risk of leaking to a charmed circle a risk worth taking. Or, in the fine old phrase, “no publicity is bad publicity”.
It may be appropriate here to
separate the fate of the book from the damage the book was expected to do to President Trump.
I’d take a gamble that the book will sell markedly fewer copies than did its predecessor in the dump-on-Trump genre, and that it will do damn all damage to the president.
But how can this be, I hear you cry, when an African-American woman who worked closely with him for a long time can prove that he repeatedly used the n-word?
To which the answer is that this is where mainstream media, with its relentless emphasis on fact and truth, will serve Trump well. By proving that she can’t prove it.
Manigault Newman’s headline allegation is that, during the filming of The Apprentice, Trump repeatedly used the n-word to describe African-Americans, thereby proving himself to be profoundly racist.
Now Manigault Newman didn’t personally hear him use the word. Not repeatedly? Not at all.
But she knows for sure it was used. Hell, she knows for sure it was physically recorded. She doesn’t personally hold the tape. She’s never actually heard the tape herself, but at least three people have told her they’ve heard it. Right.
None of this proves that the tape does not exist, but it proves Ms Manigault Newman doesn’t
understand the hearsay rule.
It goes something like this: If you want to prove in a court of law that an unidentified flying object landed in Kinsale last week, then you don’t start claiming to the judge that someone told you they witnessed it. That won’t cut it.
Witness inflation, or claiming three people saw it, doesn’t change anything.
Especially when the most famous of the three alleged witnesses, Frank Luntz, immediately came out to say he’d never heard Trump say it and he took a dim view of his name being used to support the thesis without even a phone call from the author to check the accuracy of what she was about to publish. All of this NBC made clear.
Mainstream media outside of the ones receiving advance copies of the volume were quick to ask the screamingly obvious question: If this use of a racist term happened during The Apprentice, why did Manigault Newman hang around Donald Trump for years thereafter and take up a White House post, working for him and claiming to be close to him?
The answer in the book is that it took her a while to cop on. She underwent a growing realisation that Donald Trump was indeed a racist, a bigot, and a misogynist.
“My certainty about the n-word tape and his frequent uses of that word were the top of a high mountain of truly appalling things I’d experienced with him, during the last two years in particular,” she writes.
The White House’s Sarah Huckabee Sanders pointed out that
Manigault Newman had never uttered anything other than praise for Trump during the time she worked for him and that the book was no more than the vitriol of an employee who’d been found out and fired.
Mainstream media, however, did what it’s supposed to do. It checked every sensational claim made by the author and — even though mainstream media has a real interest in proving those claims to be correct — found nothing to support them.
The end result of their fast work was that by the time she appeared on NBC yesterday morning, she was as much of a busted flush as was her book.
President Trump is unlikely to acknowledge that mainstream media has unwillingly done him a favour by blowing Omarosa and her fake news out of the water. But that’s what has happened. Because that’s their job. To find the truth and tell it. Even if they don’t like it.
Trump is unlikely to acknowledge that mainstream media has unwillingly done him a favour
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