In February, MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show had the best ratings ever for the month as well as a dramatic surge in viewership, which nearly doubled in comparison to earlier numbers. How did she achieve such success? Easy.
As Maddow told the Wrap, “I stopped covering the Twitter feed and we started covering only what they (Trump’s administration) do instead of what they say.”
Following Rachel Maddow’s lead, we should all strive to pay as little attention as possible to Donald Trump’s Twitter hissy fits as well as other acts of bizarreness or delusional statements made by the president. The same goes for any similar behavior or statements made by members of the Trump’s cabinet, particularly when they have little to do with actual policy.
As Maddow put it, “It is an unusual thing that the White House and its chief spokespeople have been called out saying stuff that’s not true over and and over again. It’s the petty stuff but it’s also the important stuff that they’ve not told the truth about.”
When the MSNBC host catches a Trump surrogate in a lie, she and her team simply “no longer go to that person for factual information.”
On the show’s recent jump in the ratings, Maddow said, “I really feel like it was helpful to me, in terms of trying to come up with what to talk about every day, and serving up information for our audience that is substantive and not manipulated by people at the White House. It was helpful for us to just stop paying attention to what they were saying.”
But this move was more than a clever strategy to increase viewership. Now, more than ever, we must not forget that actions speak louder than words. Take Donald Trump’s recent wiretapping tweets.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
Can we ignore such claims? Obviously not. After all, Trump is still president of the United States. But what do such statements, many of which can be refuted by a single page of google search results, really teach us? That Donald Trump’s grasp of reality is often sketchy at best? He has already demonstrated this (inauguration crowd numbers anyone?) That Donald Trump is prone to “chronically impulsive, erratic, outrageous behavior” and seems to seek at attention by any means possible? Again, nothing new.
Did the media still need to look into this claim? Yes, because, as I stated before, Donald Trump is the president of the United States.
Was it important to get former DNI James Clapper’s statement on the record as well as those of politicians across the political divide, such as the statements made by Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Marco Rubio (R-Flor.)? Of course.
But then we need to get over it.
The same goes for untruths and surreal statements uttered by other members of Trump’s cabinet, such as Ben Carson’s recent speech to the assembled department employees of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in which he referred to African slaves as “immigrants.” Although this mishap manages to be equal parts mindboggling and offensive, we’re talking about a man here who is responsible for such quips as, “Planned Parenthood is a plot to kill black babies,” and the extremely strange, “There’s no war on women; there may be a war on women’s insides.” Is it really news that the former neurosurgeon said something which seems to suggest he’s the one who should have his head examined?
Meanwhile, instead of dwelling on wiretapping and Carson, Rachel Maddow is focussing on presenting DHS Intel documents contradicting Trump’s case for the travel ban.
Rachel Maddow’s Twitter feed is filled with important retweets like the one below.
White House press release (left) contains full paragraph copied verbatim from Exxon press release (right). pic.twitter.com/NlhoUvdqvd— Christopher Ingraham (@_cingraham) March 6, 2017
It’s tempting to get caught up in the drama of Donald Trump’s twitter tantrums. Journalists can debate the reasons behind the obvious lies spread by Trump’s administration—as well as their implications—until they’re blue in the face. But Donald Trump has appointed many cabinet members who seem to be determined to dismantle the very department they’ve been chosen to run. There are currently many crucial bills in Congress, such as H.R.610 on federal funds for Education and H.R.861, which proposes terminating the Environmental Protection Agency.
Like Rachel Maddow, let’s be sure we keep our eyes on the ball and focus on the actions taken by the Trump administration and Congress, and hold them accountable for these actions. Otherwise, we’re in danger of being blinded by an administration which, apparently in tribute to the now-defunct Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus, is determined to create “The Greatest Reality Show on Earth.”
[Featured Image by Nam Y. Huh/AP Images]