Why, For Donald Trump, All Publicity Is Good Publicity
As recently as May, the thought of the possibility of a Trump ascension to the presidency was laughable.
Trump, who, at this point, had still not confirmed his candidacy, was nothing but a fringe candidate, a bigot of a businessman running for office to feed his own ego and garner more popularity for his brand.
Indeed, in many ways, his candidacy is still laughable; that a man who has insulted almost every demographic of the population with such vitriol is leading the GOP primary remains a mystery for many.
Yet, as laughable as his candidacy may appear, it’s growing increasingly difficult to find humor in the repercussions a possible Trump nomination could bring to the country, yet alone a Trump presidency.
Even those who have helped to build him, like Fox, his lawyers and the rest of the GOP, have, in a move akin to Mary Shelley’s "Frankenstein," begun to fear the monster they all helped create.
Much of Trump’s surge in popularity comes at a time when the divisions between the progressives and the far-right are at their most partisan in years.
In a country where 79 percent thinks political correctness is on track to ruin America, Trump’s self-imposed image as an unabashedly non-PC straight talker has enabled him to both capitalize on a wave of public opinion from the far-right conservatives, and to reap the benefits of the media furor that surrounds him, no matter how negative said media may be.
His deeply offensive comments surrounding immigration, police brutality and sexism have garnered The Donald much scorn amongst the media, but have managed to resonate with some fringe demographics, particularly those interested in his fiscal sentiments, proposed cuts to welfare and his plan to secure the border under the guise of making America great again.
Trump’s gains in popularity can also be explained by his media-savvy adeptness, despite his bullish personality and constant use of personal attacks.
In addition to broadening his appeal for the extreme right, Trump has managed to spin his “popularity” with the media, with even seemingly insignificant comments garnering attention.
His command over the Fox debate, which saw misogynistic attacks aimed at Hillary Clinton, Rosie O’Donnell and Megyn Kelly take centerstage, enabled Trump to walk home with both the night’s sound bite and resounding publicity.
Despite the negativity of his remarks, the attention that surrounded Trump’s presence following the debate provoked a more than a subtle reaction from the public, consequently allowing interest surrounding the merits of Trump’s candidacy to grow, and the conversation about Trump’s credibility as a serious presidential contender to flourish.
A Daily Beast story highlighted Trump in a marital rape scandal, concerning his divorce from ex-wife Ivana.
This story amassed Trump with criticism, particularly considering his lawyer, Michael Cohen’s, handling of the news (whereby he stated that “you can’t rape your spouse”), and his previous remarks on sexual assault.
Nevertheless, despite the scandal, Trump’s campaign persisted undeterred.
The emergence of Trump’s casual sexism (amid a much more concerning possible history of sexual assault, compounded by a later Daily Beast story whereby Trump bragged about throwing wine down a reporter’s back) unconsciously handed him control of the media.
It resulted in every news medium talking about him. Even though his persona came under intense scrutiny, Trump’s campaign and his policies were brought to the forefront of the national agenda.
In another bizarre twist of fate, these potentially campaign-ending episodes (for other candidates, at least) have allowed Trump to gain traction, of which the opinion polls are a clear inclination.
Of course, the debate surrounding Trump as a viable candidate still rages on, despite his poll numbers, with some even suggesting (in the wake of the news that Clinton attended his 2005 wedding) that Trump’s candidacy is nothing but a foil to increase support for Clinton’s candidacy, which is faltering under the strain of Bernie Sanders.
Yet, despite these claims and the overwhelmingly negative attention which surrounds both Trump and his team, Trump’s campaign has been growing from strength to strength.
It's an ironic development when one considers just how damaging and irresponsible some of his remarks have been.
Trump’s campaign ascension from a fringe candidate to one leading the GOP popularity race is a clear indication that for candidates such as Trump who rely on egotistical self-promotion, all publicity has the power to transform a campaign.
Rather than allowing the negativity to tarnish his campaign, as it has done many others, Trump has taken on the likes of Teflon, constantly bouncing back from the attacks lumped on him, even when they’re justified.
In doing so, Trump has proved that for him, in particular, all publicity can be spun into good publicity, even when barely anyone believes in your credibility.