Breaking news ... Trump is humble.
Breaking news ... Trump is not humble.
Those breaking news flashes were seen on television shortly after Donald Trump apparently clinched the Republican presidential nomination.
These days it seems almost all news, particularly on the presidential campaign, is "breaking" news. However, this onslaught of breaking news usually lacks context or continuity or accountability.
Every day is a new day in today's media world. And the news on the presidential campaign is full of contradictions.
Some critics claim "the media" have promoted the Trump candidacy by providing such extensive, if not intensive, coverage of him, much of it of the "breaking news" variety. However, that coverage owes as much or more to Trump's clever manipulation of the media than it does to the tendencies of media gatekeepers.
The constant search for new nuggets of news in the non-stop news cycle leaves behind a trail of slurs and dubious statements as we move on to more slurs and questionable claims. Short-term memory is a defining characteristic of today's media/political environment.
Many in the media are content to focus on the horse-race style coverage, centered on polling results, and on the latest political tidbits rather than on policy issues.
Trump is the master of breaking news, the titan of Twitter and the sultan of Snapchat.
He is a serial subject-changer who doesn't believe he should be accountable for past statements or positions, such as his discredited leadership on the "birther" issue, questioning where President Obama was born. He now says he doesn't want to talk about it anymore as if that should excuse his role in that ridiculous episode. Then there was his infamous and unsubstantiated claim that he had seen thousands of Muslims cheering in Jersey City when the World Trade Center went down on 9/11.
He makes comments such as "I heard..." and then goes on to repeat outlandish claims such as the one linking the father of "Lyin' Ted" Cruz with the assassination of President Kennedy. He contradicts previous positions on minimum wage, tax hikes for wealthy, abortion rights and much more. Trump deftly diverts questions by moving to another topic or has an evasive response, such as his refusal to release tax returns because he says they are being audited. But the IRS says that is no barrier to disclosure.
Of course, Trump is not the only politician to change positions -- Hillary Clinton, the probable Democratic nominee, has made some notable changes on some key issues -- but Trump does it with such aplomb and isn't bothered by contradictions.
Trump found a ready-made audience of discontented citizenry and jumped out to become their leader, even if in the process he altered some of his previous positions. He struck a responsive chord with many voters in the Republican Party, though to the dismay of some of the party's key figures. He boasts of the support of controversial basketball coach Bobby Knight, if not the backing of some of the most prominent GOP figures.
The electoral map looks tough for Trump at this point, particularly with many Republicans uncomfortable with his persona and pandering. But he has consistently defied the expectations of many politicos and pundits. He believes he will win the support of many Democrats and independents, which he will have to do to win, particularly in the absence of some major healing within Republican circles. .
Democratic strategists will seek to take some of Trump's comments and use them against Republican candidates for down-ballot offices. We have already seen this in Arkansas with Democratic Senate candidate Conner Eldridge trying to link incumbent Republican Sen. John Boozman to some of Trump's more controversial statements about women, including Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly. That is being called a blueprint for Democratic attack ads in the months ahead.
Television did put Trump on the national stage and he has a demonstrated ability to keep making "breaking news." But, as the Wall Street Journal, long a pillar of what has been the Republican establishment, says, Trump's fate may be determined by whether he is able to unite his party and look and sound more like a potential president.
Will Trump become more "presidential?" Or will we have more far-fetched promises and personal attacks?
Will media reporters and commentators and the public hold candidates to a higher standard? Or will we continue with the Twitterization of American politics?
Trump says "I'd like to see a high-level policy-oriented campaign." So would many of us. At the moment, however, it looks like there will be more and more breaking news ahead.
Commentary on 05/11/2016
Print Headline: And this just in ...