I subscribe to a political blog called Informed Comment, curated by American academic Juan Cole. Three or four pieces are published every day, usually one by Cole and the other three by equally cogent writers. On Tuesday, Tom Engelhardt published a piece called “America’s Other Addiction: Trump and War”.
“This country (and above all its media) is addicted to Donald J. Trump in a way that no population, no media, possibly not even the Communist Chinese press in the days of Mao Zedong, ever was to any figure. Since he rode that Trump Tower escalator into the presidential race in June 2015 to the tune of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” and took out after Mexican “rapists” and future Great Walls, no one — nothing — has ever been covered or attended to this way, online or off, in daily life or in our increasingly shared, increasingly addictive media life. (Yes, the Internet and social media are undoubtedly addictions of some sort, too, but let’s not head down that road or I’ll never stop writing!)
Not Donald Trump’s 2016 electoral victory, nor his tax “reform” gift to the 1%, nor his chance to appoint a second Supreme Court justice (with more openings likely to come) — none of these or anything else he’s done or is likely to do will qualify as the truest, deepest, most far-reaching of his triumphs. That can only be the unprecedented way he continues to draw attention. It represents a victory of the first order for him of a unique, almost incomprehensible sort, made more so by the inability of those who report on him to take in what’s happened to them or analyze their situation in any serious way.”
I don’t remember being fixated on President Obama the way we all are on Trump. President Obama went about his job, most of us trusted him to do it, and he checked in with us and with the media as the needs of transparency required.
Trump’s every outrage, every explosion, every cringe-worthy vulgarity is front and center all the time. I’m as guilty as anyone. If I write three or four blog posts, half or more are often about Trump. I hate it.
I used to watch Anderson Cooper every night, and the CNN shows on Sunday morning. I no longer do, because I think the constant coverage isn’t adding to my mental health. I’m also going to try consciously to cut down on the number of posts focused on Trump. My disgust isn’t any less, but my interest in giving Trump the attention he craves is.