21st Century Wire – by Patrick Henningsen
As staged television productions go, this GOP debate was nearly perfect.
On the surface, Wednesday evening’s GOP Presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, was a slick media production set in front Reagan’s old Air Force One Boeing jet for maximum theatrical effect. CNN’s host Jake Tapper exhibited his adeptness, undoubtedly a smooth operator who commanded the event with skill and confidence. To the casual observer, it all seemed picture-perfect, until it wasn’t…
Prior to Wednesday evening’s TV event, the people had spoken clearly through a number of major polls, and their top two run-away choices are clearly Donald J. Trump and Dr. Benjamin Carson. You wouldn’t know it after enduring three hours of CNN’s stage-managed production. This is perhaps the most damning indictment of the establishment politics in living memory, and potentially a major watershed moment in terms of American politics. Instead of using use real public opinion as a gauge, the media mafia, like in a Las Vegas boxing match, made the necessary moves behind the scenes in order to tilt the playing field in favor of the weaker candidates. This is nothing new, and they wouldn’t be alone. The only problem now is that the public are becoming wise as to how the media and the political establishment (in this case the GOP), work together in fixing the race.
Firstly, it’s important to understand that the Establishment will do whatever it takes in order to kill-off any popular outsiders threatening to gatecrash their political ‘party’.
Their first move was perhaps the most insidious – after weeks of insisting that they “would not budge” on their debate qualification criteria, Zucker suddenly changed CNN’s entry rules to accommodate one particular candidate who would otherwise not have made the final cut, and that was California businesswoman Carly Fiorina. Here is a perfect example of how twisted and under-handed establishment media moguls can be when it comes to the business of fixing elections in America. Here, CNN has clearly chosen to promote its own select candidates as part of the establishment’s wider effort to marginalize any genuinely popular independent challengers, namely Trump and Carson.
CNN’s ‘debate’ was really a staged exercise and opportunity to allow many of the GOP’s weaker establishment candidates a chance to ‘catch up’ to Trump and Carson.
How to ‘Fix’ A Debate
When you control the theater, you have a lot of power over what the audience is left with at the end of the night.
Back in August, the contempt which FOX News showed for front-runner Donald Trump was on full public display, as their ‘moderators’ tried and succeeded in ambushing him. After all of the sucker-punches, FOX’s railroading of Trump backfired, with public support surging in his favor, sending a clear message of ‘blow-back’ to Roger Ailes and the Murdoch mafia. You would have thought that CNN would have heeded this realization, but then again, when has CNN ever been in the business of reality?
CNN’s own debate protocol on the night stipulated that if another candidate’s name is mentioned in a contestant’s answer, then that other person is automatically given the right to rebuttal. In other words, if Tapper asks a question to Jeb Bush and Bush mentions the name ‘Rand Paul’ during his answer, then Rand Paul is summarily given time to reply. In this way CNN purports to be the ‘fair and balanced’ broker, but in reality the exercise is almost completely controlled by the moderator asking the question and the establishment candidates. Rule number one: don’t mention Trump. Using this clever formula, during one long stretch CNN, managed to shut-out Donald Trump for a full 40 minutes towards the third hour of the debate – just as viewer numbers began to gradually erode.
In horse racing, staging a big field of runners always adds excitement to the race for the simple reason that over a long race, a larger field guarantees better odds for marginal, or in this case –mediocre runners.
The other obvious point here is that it is simply ludicrous to claim that a debate is a legitimate reflection of the public interest when the broadcast network Svengalis allows nearly 15 candidates a place on the stage, with the majority of those 15 candidates polling somewhere between 1-2% nationally. This guarantees that the ‘debate’ will ultimately be a farce in terms of representing the public interest in this political race. Regardless of how poor their public appeal is, like a doctor doling out bad medicine, the establishment media is determined to force-feed their bloated field of mediocre political stooges and career glad-handers – down the throats of the American people.
Granted, this has been the GOP’s losing strategy since 2008 – to flood the primary field with as many candidates as possible, including completely unelectable and otherwise repugnant outdated party throwbacks like Newt Gingrich – who was encouraged to run at the last-minute by the Republican establishment in 2012 in order to help dilute the field and eventually oust surging front-runner Ron Paul from the national spotlight. The media played the game, denying media coverage and redacting Paul’s winning polls and even his leading primary results, effectively erasing Ron Paul from American TV screens in 2008, and in 2012. The same could be said for GOP candidate Herman Cain in 2012, who after wiping the floor in interviews and debates, was ‘disappeared’ from much of the GOP media coverage in the run-up to the New Hampshire primaries. The same process is happening now, as the RNC, in partnership with networks like CNN and FOX, are trying to erase Donald Trump from America’s gaze. They will not give up until this mission is accomplished.
Another important element in fixing their staged production is ‘loading’ their studio audience. On Wednesday night, CNN in partnership with the Republican National Committee, chose a small venue that could only hold 500 persons so that they could more easily fix the audience so that it would include ZERO supporters of Donald Trump. Tickets to this event were strictly invite onlyand might have been distributed along the following lines:
Republican National Convention guest list – 350 tickets (70%)
Ronald Reagan Library guest list – 100 tickets (20%)
CNN guest list – 50 tickets (10%) CNN
Considering that only 48 hours before the debate, Donald Trump filled Mavericks Arena in Dallas, Texas with well over 10,000 supporters on just 72 hours notice, one might ask how no actual Trump supporters (aside from family members in the VIP enclosure) were present in the audience on Wednesday night. This topped by the fact that Trump is polling as high as 40% in places in a field of 15 candidates, this calculated move by CNN and the RNC is tantamount to fraud. This was obvious when the RNC’s hand-picked audience would applaud on cue at the end of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s rebuttals, as well as following any statements by Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina. Judging from this ‘canned’ applause, one can easily see which candidates the RNC were keen to promote through this CNN mass-media production. At no time did any member of the audience cheer following a rounding statement by Donald Trump, even though he had his share of applause-worthy moments.
To compound the farce, Jeff Zucker also ordered CNN producers to run the debate over 3 hours in length, pushing its completion well past the television watershed mark past 11pm ET. Zucker knew that if Tapper and CNN had achieved its list of objectives in the first 2 hours, that many viewers would begin to peel away in droves after that. Despite Hugh Hewitt’s sweeping claim afterwards that CNN had “built and kept its audience over the 3 hours”, the reality is that viewers fell off after the second hour. To drag on the debate could only benefit those establishment candidates CNN was keen to promote in hours one and two.
Back on August 6th, FOX News engaged in its own subterfuge. Aside from the ad hominem attacks on Trump by its ‘moderators’, someone at FOX appeared to have leaked some questions in advance to RNC-approved candidates (which is nearly every other candidate aside from Trump). This became fairly obvious judging from canned and highly robotic, rehearsed answers by the likes of Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, and Marco Rubio. When you watch the footage from August 6th, this is quite obvious.
As mentioned in previous columns, to even refer to these media gatekeepers as ‘moderators’ is somewhat preposterous, as there is nothing neutral about these maestros of deception, as they skillfully conduct their symphony of high-tech propaganda. Like the networks who employ them, these highly paid operatives are contemptible, as each one executes his or her role in selling out the American political system.
Mediocre America: The ‘Under Card’ Debate
One of the other new devices that has been invented by the Establishment corporate media this year is the ‘Second Tier Debate, also referred to as the ‘Under Card Debate’, the ‘Earlier Debate’ or the ‘Kids Debate’. I like to refer to this one as simply, The Losers’ Debate, because this card is exclusively for the losers – those individuals who cannot even manage to poll 1%. While watching the GOP lower the entry bar to its debates, you can begin to understand why the party is such a mess, and so insecure that they are afraid to tell anyone ‘no’, no matter howunelectable they are. On Wednesday night, it was George Pataki (‘Mr. 9/11′), Rick Santorum(who?), Piyush ‘Bobby’ Jindal (the fastest talker in Louisiana) and Lindsey Graham (best buddy of John McCain). Who knows, maybe they’ll make space for Newt Gingrich and John Bolton in the next one. For so-called ‘conservatives’ who are constantly railing against liberals for giving out awards to every child who participates in sports or school competitions, and not just to the winners like in the old days, the GOP Losers Debate is no different – it’s like handing out big pretty GOP ribbons to all the kids who are participating in the election. Sure, it’s beyond pathetic, but don’t be fooled. It might seem pathetic, but it’s not without a purpose…
Clearly, the Establishment has devised this new ‘Under Card’ gimmick in order to help nudge otherwise unpopular, or irrelevant candidates up and into the Top Tier. In this way, FOX News coordinated with CNN in order to market and build-up the profile of an unknown and massively inexperience candidate in Carly Fiorna, who was allowed onto FOX’s Losers Debate on August 6th which helped nudged her polling numbers up to 2%, after which time CNN bent its own rules of entry by allowing Fiorina onto its top stage on Sept 16th. Here is a prime example of how the Establishment media is allowed to openly engineer the political process in America.
For a perennial losers and hugely unpopular characters like Senator Lindsey Graham (photo, left) from South Carolina, currently polling around 1-1.5%, the Losers Debate offered a nationally televised platform for Graham to espouse his own wild militaristic ideology and actively promote his plan to ramp-up a new and more bloody war in Syria, with US troops on the ground, as well as leveling nuclear threats against Iran. Megalomaniac Graham also used his two hours on national TV to remind the American people of that he’s came from humble ‘working class roots’ (like nearly every other GOP candidate this year, so we’re told) , followed by repeatedly listing how many times he’s flown to Iraq and Afghanistan, and how many years he served in the US military. This is nothing new, as Graham has previously described himself on his website as an Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm veteran – when in fact, as an Air Force lawyer, he was never been near combat. Graham’s most notable claim to fame was when he defended an air force pilot accused of smoking marijuana, which was featured in an episode of 60 Minutesback in 1984. Far be it from CNN to ever challenge this bombastic, often flippant salesmen for perpetual war. Maybe that’s because Graham and CNN are both in the same business, which is the promotion of perpetual war.
Why the Establishment is Frightened
Washington’s bureaucracy and the media work as a cartel, and this was never so evident after watching last night’s GOP debate on CNN.
The American establishment is scared of real independent competition in politics because they threaten to tip over a very old apple cart. Corporate media operations like CNN will happily play a role in ousting any serious challengers because those challengers also threaten the fixed game’ which Washington and its media partners have enjoyed for so many decades.
The mere fact that Donald Trump is not accepting large campaign contributions, is enough to completely destroy a major pillar of institutional corruption which has brought America’s political system to its knees, where industry moguls and foreign lobbies like Israel and Saudi Arabia can literally buy any US politician. By his mere presence in the GOP field, Trump both threatens and exposes this status quo. The Establishment hates this, and are desperate to see the back of Trump, and get back to business in the shadows.
Instead, who does CNN actively promote as ‘winners’ from last night’s debate? CNN has clearly anointed all of the most ardent warmongers, led by Lindsey Graham (wants to deploy ground troops in Syria ASAP), Marco Rubio (wants the US move toward war-footing with Iran), and Carly Fiorina, who claimed that, “We (the US) should not be talking to Putin” (oh dear).
Coincidentally, Fiorina’s curriculum vitae – including her record as CEO of both Lucent and Hewlett-Packard, is nothing to brag about – which is why both CNN and FOX have noticeably quiet about it until this week. Before pulling some fatal accounting magic Lucent Technologies, Fiorini went on to tech giant Hewlett-Packard, where shareholder earnings plummeted 80% due to a few bad deals before she was eventually fired as CEO but not before deploying her $100 million golden parachute on the way home. What’s hardly mentioned is how in 2008, Fiorina then went on to work as an ‘advisor’ to John McCain’s catastrophic (and often comical) 2008 Presidential defeat. After that, in 2010, she lost rather badly to incumbent Barbara Boxer (D-CA) for US Senate, after being involved in what some critics described as a dirty tricks campaign designed to derail her GOP primary opponent Tom Campbell. During Fiorina’s eventual contents against Boxer, her campaign took a nose-dive after she made rude remarks on a hot mic about opponent Boxer’s hair, which is ironic considering how she’s been playing the victim over Trump’s seemingly off-color remarks about her ‘face’.
In the end, Fiorina might just be the least qualified in the giant GOP field – making CNN’s obvious dedication to advancing her profile ever more puzzling.
Our Hollywood Reality
CNN host Jake Tapper, who is no doubt a skilled moderator, but also a more skilled propagandist, mentioned repeatedly before and during the debate, about how our future President is “in charge of the nuclear codes”. Besides the fact that Tapper is promoting a piece of popular Hollywood propaganda here, the skilled media operators are really promoting something more insidious. Tapper is promoting the Hollywood-based concept that the Present and only the President of the United States, is the sole arbiter of life and death on the planet Earth. It’s this type of national narcissistic mind-set which propagandists like to propagate in order to defer power to central government – which is embodied in the childish but very fascistidea that a supreme leader”, in this case an US President, is the demigod who “controls our nuclear arsenal”.
Tapper is also trying to subtly infer that America needs a rational person in charge of the nuclear codes, and CNN spares no opportunity in its attempt to characterize Donald Trump as irrational and unstable. The reality is that, when it comes to war, Trump is probably the leading dove in the field. When Trump said we would like to have dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin and strive for “a safer world” as US President, instead of the audience cheering, you could almost hear a pin drop in the room. It was a bizarre moment, but not surprising considering the level of collusion which had clearly taken place between the RNC and CNN executives and producers. So if the American people are overwhelmingly supporting Trump and Trump is not a war hawk, then this means that the overwhelming majority of Americans do want to declare war on the world as candidates Rubio, Fiorina, Huckabee, Graham and others have all advocated. Once again, in this way, media agents in CNN and FOX are actively undermining real politics in America.
This should tell the American people, and the world, what business CNN are keen to promote. You only have to have watched it over the years to know: their business is war.
While noting Hollywood’s close connection with Washington DC, the CIA and the Pentagon, the reoccurrence of the nuclear propaganda talking point should tell us who is in control of what we think and feel. In the end, it’s a plastic reality that is constantly being reinforced by cartel members and agents of warfare like CNN, FOX, ABC, CBS, NBC, The Blaze and the other mega media machines.
PC: Play The Game?
Many of the ‘old rules’ do not apply to Trump. His detractors continue to decry his dodgy quips about women, walls and latinos, as proof that he doesn’t possess the standards required be a ‘moral leader of the free world’. The media seem intend on beating Trump into politically correct form, but he’s resisted and his poll numbers have surged. This has confounded all of the ‘experts’. Maybe that’s because the ‘experts’ in Establishment media are just as out of touch as the Establishment politicians are.
Granted, Trump does not play the PC game, and he and his supporters seems proud of this controversial attribute, but it’s possible that voters might be willing to overlook his politically correct short comings because they see him as “his own man”. Perhaps Americans, and the rest of the world too, are realizing that there are worse things than kneeling at the alter of political correctness. As bad as many of Trump’s comments might be, they do not send chills down the spine like after hearing Jeb Bush proudly declare that if elected he will be appointing all of his foreign policy advisors from the ranks of the last two Bush administrations (yes, the Neoconservative will be pack in power). Scary indeed. The thought of Dick Cheney returning to action is equally as horrific as visions of Bill Clinton chasing interns around the West Wing. That aside, Trump could be less likely to become a mass-murderer and a war criminal – as both George W. Bush and Barack Obama have done – while surrounded by their army of ‘advisors’ (and Karl Rove too).
TRUMP: The media honeymoon is over (Image Source: SBS Australia)
To date, Trump has enjoyed early success because he has been able to ride the crest of a populist wave, but the truth is that this popular swell was building long before he declared his candidacy for the Republic Party’s nomination for US President. Anyone would be foolish to doubt his ability to make monumental deals as Commander and Chief. That shouldn’t be the issue. The issue is whether or not The Donald can weather a media storm which is only getting started, and whether or not he can truly rise to the expectations which many desperate Americans clearly have of him. The fun and games are over, and the other side is playing for keeps. If he has any useful transferable skills from his 12 years running The Apprentice, then he will have to put them into practice now, or his adversaries… not only the other 14 GOP candidates, and 4 Democratic candidates – but also the Republican National Convention and the whole of America’s mainstream corporate media – will bury him by the time they get to Iowa. Expect more of the same in the remaining GOP debates, where media operatives along with the RNC, will try shut Trump out, and ignore him as much as possible – exactly as they did with Ron Paul before him.
No more off-color insults and jingoistic remarks. No more claiming ignorance. That’s right – Donald has to get serious now. Otherwise, he’ll end up like all those aspiring apprentices he’s sent packing, before they took that long last trip down the elevator.
As tough as it looks for Trump, however, there is a silver lining in this storm. Trump has two things that the rest of GOP field doesn’t have, and cannot have even if they tried (and tried hard). The first is that his supporters believe him when he says he will do something. The second thing is even more powerful by an order of magnitude. Despite what his detractors claim, Trump will do well dealing with other international heavy weights, including Russia, because unlike the rest of the career politicians whose job is to lie for a living – Trump is a brand, and a successful one at that, which means he already has something to play for. Whereas career politicians routinely lie about their failings and accomplishments, Trump has an existing asset to protect. Whereas the rest of the GOP (and Hillary Clinton) believes American should rule the world solely through fear (and loathing), Trump made it clear on Wednesday that he preferred an American that’s respected first. An America with more allies than enemies? Could the world can become a safer place this way? After 15 years of Dr. Strangelove neoconservative adventurism and its Obama hangover, a lot of people would like to try something different. That realization alone, means that he is the only leading GOP candidate who can co-opt any significant moderate or Democratic fence-sitting votes. What they used to call a ‘Reagan Democrat’ could one day be called ‘Trump Democrat’. If the GOP elite are serious about winning (unlike the last two national elections), they might want to ponder that.
Going forward, 2016 is still going to be a brawl, but don’t expect the media to do a fair job in refereeing it, and they’ll try like hell to fix it.