2nd Amendment. Babies. Purple hearts. The NFL. Breastfeeding. Immigration law. EB-5. H1-B. Iranian press footage. Endorsements. Deli meat. As someone who is involved in the Presidential election, I couldn’t be more confused as to the types of comments I’ve received in the past week. Here are a few of the best:
- “Is it true Donald is dropping out?”
- “Which side of the feud are you on, Lewandowski or Manafort?”
- “Donald needs to control his erratic behavior.”
- “Why won’t Donald listen to anyone on the campaign?”
To say I didn’t know how to answer would be understatement in the least. At one point on a concall, I muted and turned to an associate and we each had to shrug our shoulders and carry on, explaining what sarcasm is—all in attempts to mollify certain members of the media who have the stunning ability to find fault with every single thing Donald did this week. If he crosses his arms and looks to the side, then “Aha! He’s Mussolini!” If he furrows his brow at a reporter, then “Aha! He’s Rudolph Hess!”
To say the media onslaught is brought on by a pack of blithering idiots would be an insult to blithering idiots. The simple fact of the matter is that this is still a very close race and the media is falling over themselves to try and trip up Donald. The same tactics were employed in the primary by 17 very qualified opponents, and all I really need to say is—where are they today? (Jeb Bush spotted this week carrying a box down a dark cobblestone street in Boston.)
It is interesting that the media is now taking an “All of the above” approach to their endless attacks, and this is rather noteworthy. Gone are the blanket recitations of “Trump is a racist” or “Trump is a sexist.” Instead, the media is employing a tactic the Marines refer to as “spray and pray.” They don’t have any specific targets, but they know they are cornered, so they are wildly swinging about with their finger down on the full auto trigger. Hillary herself seems like an inexperienced boxer flailing about looking for an early K.O. since she knows she will not last the 15 rounds.
The further rumors of the dropout of the race or dissension within the campaign are, in a word, slapstick. The mood within Team Trump is full-steam ahead, with any sign of a feud or rift within our ranks as pure media artifice. Sure, people have differences of opinion on tactics for a specific issue, or timing and roll-out of a specific announcement or endorsement, but nothing that would be any different from a group of friends trying to decide what kind of pizza to get or what movie to see on the weekend (though none of us would ever choose this new Ghostfrumpers monstrosity).
The team remains laser-beam focused on long-term strategy and while the media of course refuses to report on it, many of the statements Donald are making now are laying the groundwork for things to come later in the Fall. Little nuggets of foreshadowing, we call them.
Some of the team has prior military service, and its interesting the parallels they draw between what the media is doing to Donald and a military disinformation campaign. Essentially, good disinformation plants seeds of doubt in the mind of your opponent, demoralizing them, and causing dissension in their ranks. On the flipside, the same disinformation should serve to energize and enliven your own side. These are the same tactics the US military has used in conflicts from Germany to Vietnam to Afghanistan. Demoralize, Disrupt, Discredit. Without firing a shot, your enemy can become so fractured and anxious that internally, they have already defeated themselves.
The clearest example of this is the (widely ridiculed) Reuters and CNN polls which are practically sampling Democrats over Republicans at a 2:1 ratio. Such a high ratio is not reflective in any reasonable nationwide accounting of party registration, but hey, who cares? Let’s just run it anyway since it makes for endless grumbling and gnashing of teeth!
The biggest single factor working against this narrative is social media. In 2016, 78% of Americans have at least one social media account. Americans spend on average 3 hours a day on social media. Contrasted with that is what more and more people are referring to as The Death of Television. Mobile viewing, cord cutting, online video, and yes even torrents, are all cutting deeply into the traditional TV market. The majority of millennials (who are voting for the first time in 2016) do not own at TV. Overall, 18 to 34-year-olds spend nearly as much time using digital devices (smartphones, tablets and computers) as they do watching TV.
All of this has massive implications for the Hillary Clinton campaign. She is spending millions on TV ads that simply do not move the needle. Donald is not. Her Twitter posts are ridiculed and her messaging is amateur. Her main slogan has our candidate’s name in it and not hers. Repetition is the key to retention, that’s Marketing 101. Even more importantly, the media narratives do not survive on social media as well as they do for TV-only watchers.
Instead, CNN, NY Times, WaPo, etc are merely only one of many voices twittering about, and fact-checking is easier to do than ever. Hillary and her media dogs spend millions on messaging, while all Donald has to do is send a tweet and his narrative is immediately absorbed. Furthermore, in terms of numbers, she has a gang of bullies on social media, while we have amassed an army. Take a look at Reddit sometime if you don’t believe me.
The media is run by extremely clever people who know what they are doing. Their onslaught against Donald will almost certainly have some scratching their heads about what is going on with the campaign, and why Donald seems, for once, to be on the defensive.
All I will say to that is, there is a plan. There is a strategy. There is a method at work here. When the enemy has you surrounded—that only means there’s no way for them to escape. We are right where we want to be in August.