EMPTINESS BEHIND THE MASK: Donald Trump and The Culture of Narcissism
“My IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault,” a Donald Trump twitter from 8 May, 2013.
An occasional feature in horror movies is when a person removes his/her face, revealing it as a mask hiding no features whatsoever. One famous example of this kind of horror appears in Ingmar Bergman´s Hour of the Wolf.
In Japanese folklore such a monster is called Noppera- bō, and an essential part of its awfulness is that the mask reminds of someone known to you, or even of yourself.
I assume DonaldTrump´s persona must have been attractive to his voters. However, I ask myself who hides himself behind this baffling façade of foul speech, insults, mindboggling hyperboles, lies and megalomania. I cannot help fearing that it is some kind of Noppera-bo, a featureless person, or shape shifter, created by what Cristopher Lasch in his book The Culture of Narcissim, described as the narcissism of post-war USA. A world in which an increasingly alienated person may consider the world:
even in its emptiness, as a mirror of himself. In recording his “inner” experiences, he seeks not to provide an objective account of a representative piece of reality but to seduce others into giving him their attention, acclaim or sympathy and thus to shore up his faltering sense of self.
Already in the 19th century, USA was transformed into a Mecca of entertainment, to which the inhabitants of an increasingly globalized world turned their attention to indulge themselves in enchantment and forgetfulness.
When we for some years lived in New York, I was amazed by the fact that even if a lot of things did not work as expected we could always rest assured that Broadway was capable of offering top-quality products. I am not sure if the same assessment was applicable to the press, though I was impressed by The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and quite often also by The New York Times. Nevertheless, I had to agree with Cristopher Lasch´s dictum that:
The mass media, with their cult of celebrity and their attempt to surround it with glamour and excitement, have made Americans a nation of fans, moviegoers. The media give substance to and thus intensify dreams of fame and glory, encourage the common man to identify himself with the stars and to hate the “herd”, and make it more difficult for him to accept the banality of everyday existence. […] In his emptiness and insignificance, the man of ordinary abilities tries to warm himself in the stars´ reflected glow.
A glow intensified through the speed of the development of media technologies, which via unprecedented mass communication affect an ever expanding audience, more often than not titillating people´s desire for fame, luxury and money, lots of money. Let´s listen to the prophet himself, the vainglorious Donald Trump:
Part of the beauty of me is that I am very rich. […] When I think I’m right, nothing bothers me. […] I will be the greatest jobs president God ever created. […] I play to people's fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That's why a little hyperbole never hurts.
This is manna from Heaven for the Dream Factory and of course some of Trump´s fortune came from hopes for money, fame and glory, achieved without too much exhausting work – through casinos and beauty contests. He also enjoyed the great success of the docu-TV extravaganza The Apprentice created by British-born American television producer Mark Burnett, guilty of several other praised, but ultimately quite deficient products, like the schmaltzy The Bible series produced for History Channel, a big hit with a Jesus who according to The New York Times looked like a “surfer dude”.
The anthem of The Apprentice show was a classic Rhythm and Blues song, For the Love of Money, by the O´Jays:
Some people got to have it
Some people really need it
Listen to me y'all, do things, do things, do bad things with it
You want to do things, do things, do things, good things with it
Talk about cash money, money
Talk about cash money- dollar bills.
Hand-picked young, good-looking contestants were divided into two teams, called Corporations. During each episode one member in the two teams volunteered as “project manager”, being in charge of tasks such as developing new products, raising money for charity, or creating an advertising campaign. The winner was picked by Donald Trump and his advisors, while the weakest contributor was eliminated from the competition, through Trump´s harsh words: "You're fired".
The winner of each season was named Executive Vice President, granted the title of Owner's Representative and a USD 250,000 one year contract as publicity spokesperson for The Trump Organization. The series frequently featured and promoted Trump´s and his family members´ properties, products and brand. The series was immensely popular and Donald Trump glowed in its sparkle, often using his Apprentice persona as in indication that he is a superior judge of people´s looks, abilities and character:
If I were running ‘The View’ [a popular talk show], I’d fire Rosie O’Donnell [comedian and television personality]. I mean, I’d look at her right in that fat, ugly face of hers, I’d say ‘Rosie, you’re fired.´
I assume the kind of exposure The Apprentice bestowed upon Donald Trump could not have been healthy for a person suffering from Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), a pathological condition characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, excessive need for admiration and lack of empathy. Victims of NPD suffer from a morbid obsession with success, power, wealth and appearance. They also tend to take advantage of people around them, always on the lock-out for “what´s in it for me”. Narcissistic behaviour tend to develop in early adulthood, frequently taking the form of bullying, outrageous behaviour and extreme sensitivity to any form of criticism.
Mark Burnett, got his idea for a reality-television show headed by Donald Trump after reading his book The Art of the Deal from 1987. Each episode of the first season of The Apprentice, which premièred in 2004, was initiated by scenes depicting the vivid environment of New York´s business set accompanied by Trump´s dramatic voice over. Eventually we see Trump sitting in the back of a limousine boasting about his amazing skills and success while we see his hotels, resorts, airplane and casinos He asks who wants to be a billionaire and declares “I’ve mastered the art of the deal and I’ve turned the name Trump into the highest-quality brand.” The statement was followed by a flash of the The Art of the Deal ´s cover while Trump explained that, as a “master,” he was now looking for an apprentice. The actual author of the book, Tony Schwartz, later declared:
The Apprentice is mythmaking on steroids. There’s a straight line from the book to the show to the 2016 campaign.
Tony Schwartz is a journalist who for more than ten years had worked for various prestigious New York magazines when he was approached by his agent who asked him if he was willing to write a book for Donald Trump. At first Schwartz was reluctant, but as he later stated: “I was overly worried about money. I thought money would keep me safe and secure - or that was my rationalization.” Schwartz now feels responsible for Trump´s latest triumph and already in June this year he feared that Trump could win the presidency and to ease his bad conscience he contacted The New Yorker: “I’ll carry this until the end of my life. There’s no righting it.”
Schwartz fears that Trump´s presidency will be a disaster. He is scared of the person he worked so closely with, whose mind he tried to open so he could write his biography. Schwartz stated that he does not fear Trump´s ideas, his ideology. He even doubts that he has ever formed any clear notions about anything. According to Schwartz, the superficiality of Trump´s knowledge is “stunning”. Most of his statements are is based on plain ignorance and tit bits picked up from his surroundings. “That’s why he so prefers TV as his first news source—information comes in easily digestible sound bites.” What Schwartz suspects to be the driving force behind Trump´s actions is his insatiable hunger for money, praise, and celebrity.
Trump stands for many of the things I abhor: his willingness to run over people, the gaudy, tacky, gigantic obsessions, the absolute lack of interest in anything beyond power and money, [in the book] I created a character far more winning than Trump actually is.
Trump is immensely proud of The Art of the Deal. During a mass meeting along his campaign trail he asked the enthusiastic crowd how many of them had read his first book, The Art of the Deal. Hundreds of hands were raised and Trump declared:
It's my second favorite book of all time. Do you know what my first is? The Bible! Nothing beats the Bible!
The statement was followed by a thunderous applause. When Trump was fighting hard with Republican leaders to prove that he was a serious presidential candidate he declared:
I went to the Wharton School of Finance, I was a great student. ... I go out, I make a tremendous fortune. I write a book called The Art of the Deal, the No. 1 selling business book of all time, at least I think, but I’m pretty sure it is. And certainly a big monster, the No. 1 bestseller. I do The Apprentice, a tremendous success, one of the most successful shows.
When a former journalist acquaintance released a book about Trump he wrote a letter to The New York Times, which had reviewed it positively. Trump asserted that the author of Trump and Me, Mark Singer, contrary to Donald Trump himself was “not born with great writing ability” and to Singer he wrote: “Mark – you are a total loser – and your book (and writings) sucks! Best wishes Donald. P.S. And I hear it is selling badly.”
Nevertheless, according to Tony Schwartz, Trump did not wrote a single line of The Art of the Deal, at the end of the process limiting himself to remove a few critical mentions of business colleagues. When The New Yorker asked Trump to comment this claim he stated:
He [Schwartz] didn’t write the book. I wrote the book. I wrote the book. It was my book. And it was a No. 1 best-seller, and one of the best-selling business books of all time. Some say it was the best-selling business book ever.
However, when The New Yorker asked Howard Kaminsky, former head of Random House, which published The Art of the Deal, if Trump´s statement was true, he laughed and said: “Trump didn’t write even a postcard for us!”
Tony Schwartz assumes that Trump´s odd and outrageous personality have convinced him that he actually wrote the book himself.
Trump didn’t fit any model of a human being I’d ever met. He was obsessed with publicity, and he didn’t care what you wrote. Trump only takes two positions. Either you’re a scummy loser, liar, whatever, or you’re the greatest. I became the greatest. He wanted to be seen as a tough guy, and he loved being on the cover.
Schwartz assures that if he had written The Art of the Deal today it would have been an entirely different book. He would call it The Sociopath. He would definitely not write it together with Trump, not only because he considers him to be crazy, but since it was an ordeal to write The Art the Deal, mainly due to Trump´s complete lack of an attention span. A shortage several people around Trump has noticed.
Mark Singer spent months with Trump while preparing a “character study” for The New Yorker, something Trump enthusiastically agreed to. However, Singer was utterly appalled by the superficiality of the man. It was difficult to understand how so many had come to consider this insincere and ignorant man as some kind of superman. Singer tried desperately to become Trump´s friend and confident to sound out his inner depths and convictions. However, Singer found that Trump mainly was focused on money and “a piece of ass”. He was a good golf player, but did not like work out, slept only four hours and since his brother died as an alcoholic he did not touch alcohol, though he was well stocked with booze for his guests.
Trump told lies, lightly and without shame and seemed to suffer from some strange sort of self-negation, fashioning himself as a cartoon millionaire, “an opera-buffa parody of wealth”. Singer believes that introspection would be fatal to Trump. It would kill the brand. In a Playboy interview in 1990, Trump stressed the importance of intense activity. He called it “controlled neurosis”:
I truly believe that someone successful is never really happy, because dissatisfaction is what drives him. I’ve never met a successful person who wasn’t neurotic. It’s not a terrible thing … it’s controlled neuroses. Controlled neuroses means having a tremendous energy level, an abundance of discontent that often isn’t visible. It’s also not oversleeping. I don’t sleep more than four hours a night.
Like Schwartz, Singer was amazed by Trump´s limited attention span. He constantly talked on his mobile phones, sent SMS, while releasing an avalanche of catch phrases like “fantastic”, “amazing”, “terrific” and “incredible” and a wealth of synonyms for “biggest” and “greatest”. The universe revolved around Trump while he had to stay in character, ignoring his environment when he could not squeeze something out of it. Not only Schwartz and Singer, but others who have been close to Trump may express a certain exhaustion. I can easliy imagine how it can be to witness the Donald Trump Show up close. It is maybe like watching some overwrought, repetetive Broadway spectacle, or some over-the-top Cecil B. DeMille extravaganza. Being a hapless spectator of an absurd vudeville, unfolding within a preposterously sumptuous scenery, while being unable to partake in the action.
Schwartz description of busy bodied Trump makes me think of Chaplin´s portrayal of Adenoid Hynkel/Hitler in The Great Dictator, as he in a great hurry dictates letters, poses for artists, gives orders, throws himself on a mistress, etc., etc., all the time trying to maintain an impression of being a great, macho leader. Schwartz recognized Trump´s “unique talent to be Trump:
I have to do a lot of things myself. It takes so much time. Julio Iglesias is coming to Mar-a-Lago, but I have to call Julio, I have to have lunch with Julio. I have Pavarotti coming. Pavarotti doesn’t perform for anybody. He’s the highest-paid performer in the world. A million dollars a performance. The hardest guy to get. If I call him, he’ll do it—for a huge amount less. Why? Because they like me, they respect me, I don’t know.
In the Intro to The Apprentice Trump declares that he enjoys his tremendous success and “has a lot of fun”. However, what is fun for Trump? The “homes” he created for himself and his family are like backdrops for opulent operas inspired by the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg and his casinos. They are places “like out of a dream”, where he is a foreground figure, an image like Louis XIV, surrounded by servants and admiring minions.
In a 1990 Playboy interview, Trump declared that his yacht, the glitzy casinos, the gleaming bronze and gold of his buildings and apartments were all “props for the show,” adding that “the show is ‘Trump’ and it is sold-out performances everywhere.”
And let me tell you, a display is a good thing. It shows people that you can be successful. It can show you a way of life. Dynasty did it on TV. It’s very important that people aspire to be successful. The only way you can do it is if you look at somebody who is.
The various theatre sets for Trump life are filled to the brim with tacky, but opulent ornaments:
Tapestries, murals, frescoes, winged statuary, life-size portrait of Trump (titled “The Visionary”), bathtub-size flower-filled samovars, vaulted Corinthian colonnade, thirty-four-foot ceilings, blinding chandeliers, marquetry, overstuffed and gold-leaf-stamped.
However, nowhere in this make-belief showcase can a book be found. No, I´m wrong. During Trump´s nasty divorce fight with Ivana Trump in 1990 the legendary investigative journalist Marie Brenner wrote an insightful, comprehensive and scathing story about Donald Tump, After the Gold Rush. Marie Brenner knew both Ivana and Donald, had exclusive access to both of them and moved around in their circles. However, they had to be beware of her. Brenner´s articles later exposed the Enron scandals and her revelations about the machinations of the tobacco industry was made into a movie with Russell Crowe and Al Pacino, The Insider.
In her article Brenner tells how a bitter Ivana Trump attacks Donald:
How can you say you love us? You don’t love us! You don’t even love yourself. You just love your money.
This in spite of this self-negation Trump has “overgrown, all rough edges and inflated ego” and constantly places himself in the floodlight. When he met Ivana, Trump declared that he wanted at least five children “like in my own family, because with five, then I will know that one will be guaranteed to turn out like me.”
When Marie Brenner tried to scratch the surface of Donald Trump´s persona by hinting that his hope for a child to be like him may have been connected with his unfortunate brother Fred´s death at the age of forty-one, from complications of alcoholism, Donald answered:
I had success, and that put pressure on Fred too. What is this, a psychoanalysis of Donald?
A fear of remembering the past was something that complicated things for Schwartz when he tried to write The Art of the Deal. As soon as Schwartz tried to find out about Trump´s inner feelings, for example by talking about his childhood and youth, his connections with family, friends and school mates, Donald became uneasy “like a kindergartner who can’t sit still in a classroom.”
When Schwartz pressed Trump further it appeared as if did not remember much from his years before success and he made it quite clear that he was bored. Since Trump´s contributions infallibly became truncated and superficial Schwartz had to avoid sessions that revealed his personal thoughts and feelings.
… it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than few minutes.
Like many others who have tried to piece together Trump´s life and feelings Schwartz had to confine himself to interviews with people close to Trump and the media. It was also very difficult to discuss ideas with Trump, in particular since Schwartz suspected that “Trump has ever read a book straight through in his adult life”. He never saw a book on Trump’s desk, or elsewhere in his office, or in his apartments.
However, Schwartz is contradicted by Ivana Trump. During one of her desperate outpours about her ex-husband´s oddities Ivana from time to time told Marie Brenner that her ex-husband read a book of Hitler's collected speeches, My New Order, which he kept in a cabinet by his bed. However, even that is uncertain, when Brenner asked Donald Trump about the book he answered:
Actually, it was my friend Marty Davis from Paramount who gave me a copy of Mein Kampf, and he's a Jew.
While Davis, a short-tempered executive who reshaped the Gulf and Western Industries into the entertainment and publishing giant Paramount Communications, told Brenner that it was not Mein Kampf he had given to Trump and that he doubted that he even had read the book:
It was My New Order, Hitler's speeches, not Mein Kampf. I thought he would find it interesting. I am his friend, but I'm not Jewish.
Why would Marty Davis give a collection of Hitler´s speeches to Donald Trump? Probably because he assumed that he, as one lawyer told Brenner, was “a believer in the big-lie theory. If you say something again and again, people will believe you.”
The Big Lie, in German Die Grosse Lüge, is a propaganda technique that generally is believed to originate from a section of Hitler´s Mein Kampf where he describes what he considers to be “Marxists´ and Jews´” depiction of his political ally General Ludendorff as one of those who were guilty of Germany´s defeat in World War I.
All this was inspired by the principle—which is quite true within itself—that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.
It is doubtful if Trump has read this. However, Schwartz as part of his deal with Trump was allowed to listen in to his telephone conversations. Trump thought this would be more helpful than interviewing him. Accordingly, Schwartz got an insight in how Trump dealt with people. It was all show business, a combination of flattery, bragging and bullying. Schwartz couldn´t detect any “private Trump”, the subject of his planned biography seemed to be exclusively driven by public attention, by constantly being at the centre of the stage: “All he is, is ‘stomp, stomp, stomp’—recognition from outside.”
It appears as if Trump does not want to confront himself with any “inner self”. In a Playboy interview in 2004 he declared:
A lot of people see psychiatrists because they don’t have enough on their mind. I spend so much time thinking about buildings and deals and clubs and doing what I do that I don’t have time to get into trouble mentally. I don’t knock psychiatry. […] I don’t actually have a bad temper. I call it controlled violence. I get angry at people for incompetence. I get angry at people who are getting paid a lot of money and don’t look sharp when they work for me. That’s one reason I do better than everybody else. That’s one reason I get more per square foot than other real estate people. That’s part of why I’m so successful.
As an actor Trump is constantly performing and performance is make believe, not reality, lying has become a part of the routine:
Lying is second nature to him. More than anyone else I have ever met, Trump has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true. How much he had paid for something, or what a building he owned was worth, or how much one of his casinos was earning when it was actually on its way to bankruptcy.
When a visitor appears in his strange, lavish abodes, Trump shows her/him around like on a museum tour, indicating what all has cost him, the exclusive materials – marble from Toscana, solid-gold fixtures and hardware; like sinks, door hinges and even screws. Shoes from famous baseball players, Mike Tyson´s boxing championship title belt. The two-story dining room with its carved ivory frieze - “I admit that the ivory’s kind of a no-no”- onyx columns with marble capitals that had come from “a castle in Italy”; a chandelier that originally hung in “a castle in Austria”; the African blue-onyx lavatory.
Everything around Trump is show, maybe this is one reason to why mass media is attracted to him, all in accordance with Cristopher Lasch´s observation that it worships celebrity, glamour and excitement. Trump is a celebrity and thus he avoids depth and introspection, the complicated inner workings of the human soul. Mark Singer tells us about a trip on Trump´s private jet from Miami to Atlanta:
Trump decided to watch a movie. He’d brought along “Michael,” a recent release, but twenty minutes after popping it into the VCR he got bored [he cannot be blamed for that, it is a bad movie with John Travolta in the role as an archangel] and switched to an old favorite, a Jean Claude Van Damme slugfest called “Bloodsport,” which he pronounced “an incredible, fantastic movie.” By assigning to his son the task of fast-forwarding through all the plot exposition—Trump’s goal being “to get this two-hour movie down to forty-five minutes”—he eliminated any lulls between the nose hammering, kidney tenderizing, and shin whacking. When a beefy bad guy who was about to squish a normal-sized good guy received a crippling blow to the scrotum, I laughed. “Admit it, you’re laughing!” Trump shouted. “You want to write that Donald Trump was loving this ridiculous Jean Claude Van Damme movie, but are you willing to put in there that you were loving it, too?”
The macho image appears to be dear to Trump. He is fascinated blood sports. A great fan of boxing and wrestling, though the only sport he practices is golf. In his youth he was quite good at baseball, though known for his bad temperament and fear of losing. He is said to have smashed up several baseball bats. At his luxurious resort, Mar-a-Lago, he has a well-equipped Gym, but visits it only for massage. Singer observed the scantily clad, beautiful women at the Gym and Trump explained that he liked to surround himself with beautiful women. He introduced Singer to one of the good looking attendants, explaining that she was a magnificent, highly educated medical doctor. When Singer asked Trump from which university she had graduated Trump whispered in confidence, “strictly off the record”, something he did all the time, even if he did not mind at all to if his sayings were published. Trump constantly feigned intimacy and exclusivity.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “Baywatch Medical School? Does that sound right? I’ll tell you the truth. Once I saw Dr. Ginger’s photograph, I didn’t really need to look at her résumé or anyone else’s. Are you asking, ‘Did we hire her because she’d trained at Mount Sinai for fifteen years?’ The answer is no. And I’ll tell you why: because by the time she’s spent fifteen years at Mount Sinai, we don’t want to look at her.”
Actually, Dr. Ginger Lee Southall graduated from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and earned her doctorate degree from The New York Chiropractic College. She is currently promoting de-tox products like The Rainbow Juice Cleance.
The taste for good looking women, who eventually also could be marketed as smart and intelligent, is something Trump shares with quite a lot of testosterone-fuelled media moguls, often of advanced age. It is enough to look at the painted, long-legged beauties exposed on Trump glorifying Fox Channel. However, since that channel also have to hire smart women it is constantly running into troubles. Megyn Kelly´s case is revealing.
It was after an infamous Fox News Debate that Trump during a CNN interview discharged his distasteful harangue about Kelly:
Certainly, I don’t have a lot of respect for Megyn Kelly. She’s a lightweight and y’know, she came out there reading her little script and trying to be tough and be sharp. And when you meet her you realize she’s not very tough and she’s not very sharp. She gets out there and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions, and you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her … wherever.
In a recent book, Settle for More, Megyn Kelly revealed that this kind of macho bullying is not uncommon within the masculine media world of Fox Channel. Quite a long time back Kelly had ran a segment on her show about Donald and Ivana Trump’s divorce proceedings, afterwards an enraged Trump had called her up, threatening her:
You had no business putting it on your show! Oh, I almost unleashed my beautiful Twitter account against you, and I still may.
He did not carry out his threat and even swallowed his shame when Kelly in a later interview exposed his illiteracy while asking about his favourite novels and Trump after some hesitation answered All Quite at the Western Front, making the media pack drawing attention to the fact that this particular novel had been obligatory reading at the New York Military Academy (NYMA), an expensive private borading school with military discipline and strict rules, which his father had sent Donald to at the age of 13. This after young Trump had hit his music teacher in the face, giving him a black eye and with his gang had travelled into Manhattan to purchase knives to attack another group of boys.
Trump has acknowledged that the Academy had not been “a loving atmosphere”, but that since he “had to fight back all the time” he became forceful and even closer to his father, who he admiringly describes as his role model. A tough guy who taught his son to hit back to earn respect. A statement which may be connected with Trump´s literary pursuits. He was once asked what had moved him most in his “favourite book” The Bible, at that particular moment Trump was unable to come up with an answer, but after a time he returned with a favourite quote:
… if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
Back to Megyn Kelly, who in her book states that six months before Donald Trump announced his presidential candidacy, he began reach out to her, sending notes inviting her to his Florida resort. Kelly emphasizes that this is one of the untold stories of the 2016 campaign – that she was far from the only journalist to whom Trump offered gifts to shape coverage.
Furthermore, Kelly reveals that a chummy, chauvinistic attitude seems to lure on the backstage of Fox Channel, much in harmony with the macho world of Donald Trump. Kelly reveals how the head of the network, Roger Ailes, was part of this behaviour:
I would be called into Roger’s office, he would shut the door, and over the next hour or two, he would engage in a kind of cat-and-mouse game with me—veering between obviously inappropriate sexually charged comments (e.g., about the ‘very sexy bras’ I must have and how he’d like to see me in them) and legitimate professional advice. […] in January 2006, Roger called me up to New York and we had a shocking exchange….He crossed a new line—trying to grab me repeatedly and kiss me on the lips…. His office was large and it took me a beat to get to the door, which was closed. As I walked away from him, he followed me and asked an ominous question, ‘When is your contract up?’
After Gretchen Carlson´s, former Miss America and hostess for Fox´s morning show Fox & Friends, contract expired on June 23, 2016, she filed a lawsuit against Roger Ailes, claiming sexual harassment. Her move emboldened other women, who stepped forward to accuse their boss of harassment. Roger Ailes was eventually forced to resign. The lid was off and in spite of their fears to be exposed and lose their jobs brave women are now revealing how they have been sexually harassed by chauvinist colleagues. Not the least have accusations been levelled against Donald Trump´s buddy, the notorious and highly influential Bill O´Reilly, twister of truth and self-proclaimed upholder of American morals.
In 2004, O´Reilly was sued by Fox Channel producer Andrea Mackris for dinner and phone conversations she described as lewd, lascivious and threatening. The lawsuit was settled for millions of dollars. Nevertheless, O´Reilly appears to be incorrigible. Recently, Andrea Tantaros, whose shapely legs could be admired in Fox shows like Outnumbered and The Five stated that:
Fox News masquerades as defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fuelled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny.
She continues to describe unwelcome approaches from various Fox Channel guests and not the least the appalling behaviour of Roger Ailes and Bill O´Reilly. She alleges that the latter asked her to come to stay with him in his mansion on Long Island where it would be “very private,” telling her on several occasions that he could “see [her] as a wild girl,” and that he believed that she had a “wild side.” Fox Channel´s reaction was that Tantaros would no longer appear on The O’Reilly Factor.
Andrea Tantaros claims that she after her denouncements has become subject to several defamation campaigns and warns that Fox Channel is an unhealthy and bigoted environment for young women. For example, the CEO Roger Ailes referred to the former Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney and popular Fox profile, Kimberly Ann Guilfoyle, as “that Puerto Rican whore”.
It might be possible that these ladies have an agenda to hurt their skilled, male colleagues, though I think this is improbable considering the risks they run and the prevailing media culture within the US and possibly around the world, something that probably will be even more pronounced when a self-proclaimed stag like Donald Trump takes the helm of the World´s most powerful nation. As the brilliant comedian John Oliver observed:
It turns out that instead of showing our daughters that they could someday be president, America proved that no grandpa is too racist to become leader of the free world.
Trump plays the media and like hypnoticed snakes the male dominated networks´ and newspapers´ divas wriggle to his tunes and at his demand they are showing up at Trump Tower, contrary to all media ethics promising to keep quite after being lectured about their duties by the Supreme Leader. And after this kowtow by the press, turncoats and syncopates continue to line up for an audience with the President-Elect, begging for a place by the food troughs within the egomaniac´s Government.
“Paul Ryan right now loves me, Mitch McConnell loves me, it’s amazing how winning can change things.”
After these morning audiences the Sovereign humbled himself by visiting one of the underlings who had not attended his meeting with the muted crowd of humiliated press primi uomi – The New York Times.
And what happened there? He was greeted with respectful obeisance and allowed to expose his shallow ramblings and evasive answers – “I will look into that”. Revealing his unconstitutional intentions: “In theory I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly. There's never been a case like this”. There is little doubt about the fact that that Donald Trump intends to use his presidency not only to aggrandize his ego, but to promote his economic interests as a well. The signs are written all over the wall: “It is good to be the President!”
Let the man speak for himself and listen carefully. This is after Donald Trump at The New York Time´s HQ getting a question if it is true that he as a president-elect met with Nigel Farage, leader the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and asked him to help him in his fight against an offshore wind project near his Aberdeenshire golf resort in Scotland. Was that not a sign of mixing national leadership with personal business interests, as well as a disdain for non-fossil energy sources?
My uncle was for 35 years a professor at M.I.T. He was a great engineer, scientist. He was a great guy. And he was … a long time ago, he had feelings — this was a long time ago — he had feelings on this subject. It’s a very complex subject. I’m not sure anybody is ever going to really know. I know we have, they say they have science on one side but then they also have those horrible emails that were sent between the scientists. Where was that, in Geneva or wherever five years ago? Terrible. Where they got caught, you know, so you see that and you say, what’s this all about. I absolutely have an open mind. I will tell you this: Clean air is vitally important. Clean water, crystal clean water is vitally important. Safety is vitally important. The brand is certainly a hotter brand than it was before. I can’t help that, but I don’t care. I said on “60 Minutes”: I don’t care. Because it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters to me is running our country.They’re made out of massive amounts of steel, which goes into the atmosphere, whether it’s in our country or not, it goes into the atmosphere. The windmills kill birds and the windmills need massive subsidies. In other words, we’re subsidizing wind mills all over this country. I mean, for the most part they don’t work. I don’t think they work at all without subsidy, and that bothers me, and they kill all the birds. You go to a windmill, you know in California they have the, what is it? The golden eagle? And they’re like, if you shoot a golden eagle, they go to jail for five years and yet they kill them by, they actually have to get permits that they’re only allowed to kill 30 or something in one year. The windmills are devastating to the bird population, O.K.
To me this sounds like crazy talk, though some hopeful agnostics are mumbling: ”Let´s give the guy a chance”. A dangerous suggestion, as the sarcastic John Oliver pointed out:
A Klan-backed misogynist internet troll is going to be delivering the next State of the Union address. That is not normal. That is fucked up.
To trust such a person is like:
we’re on a plane and we just found out our pilot is a wombat. I don’t like this, I don’t understand how it happened and I’m pretty sure we’re heading for disaster but what the hell, come on, batty, prove me wrong!
Brenner, Marie (1990) “After the Gold Rush,” in Vanity Fair, September. Hitler, Adolf (2007) Mein Kampf. Mumbai: Jaico Publishing House. Hochman, David (2004) “The Payboy Interview: Donald Trump.” Playboy, October. Kelly, Megyn (2016) Settle for More. New York: Harper. Kunzru, Hari (2016) “Trump and Me by Mark Singer review – a lot of laughs but then horror,” in The Guardian, 21 July. Lasch, Cristopher (1991) The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. Mayer, Jane (2016) “Donald Trump´s Ghostwriter Tells All,” in The New Yorker, July 25. Plaskin, Glenn (1990) “The Playboy Interview: Donald Trump,” in Playboy, March. Singer, Mark (1997) “Trump Solo,” in The New Yorker, May 19.
Donald Trump´s New York Times Interview: Full Transcript. 23 November 2016 [online):
John Oliver: Trump Wins Election, Last Week Tonight, 14 November [online]: