January 16th, 2019


Politics = Show Business: Get Used To It

Bernard Goldberg

By Bernard Goldberg

Published May 11, 2016

This is the campaign journalists have been salivating over. Clinton vs. Trump. If it were a movie it would be Animal House. Think of the scene where Belushi smashes the nerdy folk singer's guitar against the wall at the toga party. If it were a fight it would be a heavyweight championship fight, the kind with eye gouging and low blows. Ratings for the first debate between the two contenders will go through the roof. A dirty fight makes for great TV — and even more important, big profits. The only bad news for the moguls who run television networks is that unlike a big fight, they won't be able to put the campaign on pay-per-view. But if they could, they would.

And forgive me for stating the obvious, but Hillary isn't the draw. Everyone will be tuning in to see if Trump pulls a Mike Tyson and tries to bite her ear off. I think I mean, figuratively.

Will the reporters cover the issues? Yes, but not enthusiastically. Social security is boring, right? That's why this campaign for the most important job in the free world will be covered as a show.

Excuse the short detour, but President Obama held a news conference the other day and said what liberals always say when they want to divide people for votes: that the wealthiest people in this country don't pay their "fair share" of taxes.

Actually, the wealthiest Americans pay more than their "fair share." A lot more. The top one percent pays nearly 40 percent of all federal income taxes. It's all those other Americans who aren't paying their fair share.

I bring this up because Mr. Obama made his comments not during lunch at Debbie Wasserman Schultz's house, but right in front of the White House press corps. Except these bulldogs of journalism, who keep telling us how they hold the powerful accountable, didn't challenge the president; they didn't ask him if he was playing election year politics by demonizing the wealthy?

But they did ask him a bunch of other questions that they deemed far more important: questions about … wait for it … Donald Trump.

Question: Mr. President, what's your reaction to Donald Trump becoming the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party this week?

Question: Mr. President, what does Speaker Ryan's comments [about Donald Trump] tell you about the state of the Republican Party?

Question: How would you advise your fellow Democrats who appear to have to now run against Donald Trump as to how they can win in November?

There was even a question about Trump's Cinco de Mayo tweet about Hispanics and tacos.

Question: Did you see the … taco bowl tweet? And your thoughts on it?

OBAMA: I have no thoughts on Mr. Trump's tweets. As a general rule, I don't pay attention to Mr. Trump's tweets

Reporters want a food fight, with tacos or anything else that's messy. Food fights get good ratings and get airtime and clicks for reporters while making their news organizations lots of money. That's why they asked the president about Mr. Trump and his tacos tweet. This is what passes for substance.

A lot of Americans are hoping there is some way for Hillary and Donald to both lose. Yes, millions love them. But millions also hate them. That's what entertainment is all about — conflict, confrontation, white hats, black hates, love, hate.

So sit back and enjoy the show. And consider the wisdom of the great jazz artist Billie Holliday who once said: "There's no damn business like show business — you have to smile to keep from throwing up."

Actually, you might want to consider that wisdom a lot between now and Election Day.


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