Donald Trump is a master manipulator. Trump manipulates the GOP, the Democrats, and the entire media with what appears to be incredible ease. But the manipulation by itself isn’t what is impressive. It is how masterful he is at doing at on several fronts.
Typically, the word manipulator carries negative connotations. But every one of us are manipulators every single day. Merriam-Webster defines the word ‘manipulate’ as to “control or influence (a person or situation) cleverly.”
When someone goes to purchase a vehicle, the purchaser tries to manipulate the deal in their favor, while the dealer’s representatives try to manipulate the process in the dealer’s favor. The family unit is constantly manipulating each other for leverage. We manipulate to improve our wages, to win business deals, in sporting competitions, and on and on.
The most impressive manipulation by Trump is that of the media, which is one of the highest hurdles that the GOP faces every hour of every day. Not only does Trump control the entire media cycle by sucking the air out the entire media bubble, but Trump also has nearly the entire media flat-footed, if not completely on their heels. This is a media that is on a perpetual cycle of search and destroy missions against any conservative. Trump has this same media flat-out scared to ask tough questions or smear him as they would others in the GOP.
In September the Media Research Council calculated that CNN’s prime time shows, and found that CNN discussed Trump 78 percent of the time – in a then 17-person race. When MRC President Brent Bozell appeared on The Kelly File on December 30, 2015, Bozell said when discussing the total time spent between all the media sources in all hours of the day, “It’s been all Trump, all the time. Just about 70 to 80 percent of the coverage and he has played the media like a Stradivarius.” This continual coverage has allowed Trump to manipulate the media to squarely focus on Trumps messaging. It has also allowed Trump to spend nearly zero of his over $10 billion. Compare that to Jeb Bush and his super PAC’s spending tens of millions of dollars in mostly attack ads against Trump with not only zero positive effect, but many suggest it has contributed to the collapse of Rick Perry and Jeb Bush’s candidacies.
In past election cycles though the public despised negative attacks, they were done regularly against opponents as they had success. Never have we seen a candidate not only take incoming shots and not be hurt by them, but to utterly get counterpunched so effectively that it has shown to end the attacking opponent’s campaigns. That is because Trump is able to size up an opponent and the entirety of the surrounding variables, and to fight the battle on his terms, and in his cage.
Many would argue that Trump has a considerable record showing that he is not the conservative that he claims to be. Many would counter-argue that Trump is a conservative but has had to posture in different ways to get along with everyone to get business deals done.
I am not going to judge Trump’s Conservative credentials, but I will admire how Trump has brilliantly manipulated not only the GOP, but also much of the Tea Party and hard right conservatives, that he is the answer to their anxiety. Trump has manipulated them into believing that he is the ‘fist-to-the-jaw’ of the media. That he is finally a win after two presidential election cycles that they lost to what they perceived as weak candidates. That he will take the boot of government off of the citizens and businesses of the United States. That he is the answer to getting not only deals done, but conservative deals done and through the Congress. That he will ‘Make America Great Again.’
I am not going to analyze what Trump represents or what he is or isn’t. But we can see what kind of job that Trump is doing on the stump. He has been brilliant, and it is hard to war-game a scenario that derails the Trump Train after all that we have seen this election cycle.