Rebels Roundtable: Covering the Trumpazo

Aug 28, 2015
10:30 AM
The trumpazo himself (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

The trumpazo himself (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Somehow Donald Trump has made himself the the man in the middle heading into the 2016 presidential season. Whether you cheer him or share satirical memes about him, you cannot avoid him. He’s ahead of his Republican challengers in the polls —granted there are about a gazillion of them— and his almost daily antics have made it so that the media spotlight remains squarely on his wayward coif.

It’s easy to dismiss Trump as a mere sideshow, someone whose hijinks the media has latched onto in a lazy attempt to secure ratings and heavy traffic.  Were he lower in the polls or as broke as the rest of us, Trump would be ranked with the other yahoos who frequently emerge from the country’s dark subconscious whenever the White House is in play. (Remember Palin, Bachmann, Santorum?—wait, that last one’s still around.) But hovering at a stubborn 30 percent, Trump leads the second-most popular GOP candidate —Mike Huckabee— by 20 points, and the billionaire has his name emblazoned in some of the flashiest towers from Chicago to Istanbul.

Sometimes it’s hard to know which is biggest: Trump’s name, Trump’s wallet or Trump’s ego.

While most of the media follow Trump as if he craps diamonds, some outlets are attempting to take the high road, or at least wanting their audience to think they’re taking the high road. In July the Huffington Post announced that it would be filing its Trump coverage where it belonged—under the entertainment section:

Our reason is simple: Trump’s campaign is a sideshow. We won’t take the bait. If you are interested in what The Donald has to say, you’ll find it next to our stories on the Kardashians and The Bachelorette.

It’s a nice gesture, but at the end of the day, coverage is coverage. No one clicks on a headline and then clicks away just because an article is in the entertainment section. (In fact, given today’s celebrity worship, Entertainment is likely the most popular section on any given site.)

For his part, New York Times columnist Charles Blow has decided “enough is enough,” vowing to never again write another word about Donald Trump unless “he addresses issues with specific policy prescriptions and details, like answers to the question Ramos asked”:

Until then, this man is not worthy of the attention he’s garnering. We in the media have to own our part in this. We can’t say he’s not serious and then cover him in a way that actually demonstrates that we are not serious.

Deciding how much attention to pay the trumpazo has proven to be a challenge for Latino media, as well. Trump is hardly near the center of the Latino political universe, but when he launches attacks on Mexican immigrants —which are actually veiled attacks on most Latinos, immigrant or not— and degrades arguably the most respected Latino journalist in the country, the Latino media has no choice but to cover the circus.

Having shared accounts of Trump’s nonsense for the past few weeks, the Rebeldes had a chat this week concerning the Latino media’s role in giving The Donald however much (or little) attention he deserves.

Billionaire and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Billionaire and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)


Hector: The way I see it, the Trump campaign is far from the center of issues Latinos would like to be discussing ahead of 2016. And while I don’t think he’ll win his party’s nomination, he clearly represents a segment of the GOP that is anti-immigrant, anti-Latino and anti-woman—a segment that has a very narrow view of what the United States should be. So the Latino media should cover his antics, if only as reminders of what’s at stake in this (and in every) election.

Rodrigo: We have to cover it. For the longest [time], the Latin@ vote has been considered a shoe-in for most of the Democratic Party, but our issues are never considered to be important enough to campaign around. We have reached a moment in which we as brown children of many suns have a presence in most media, and when Trump decided to say “F— it, I’ll do what I want” as ‘Murica-themed as that may seem and sound. We still got the right and duty to question him, challenge him and his maíz hair in every way possible.

BellaVida: It is also our duty to cover topics other than immigration. It is important our voices be heard on a platform that [typically] excludes us. Media has influence on perception. We must offer our perspectives.

Hector: Yeah, I think Latino media should do its best to provide a platform for Latino voices, instead of simply trying to cover “Latino topics.” Latino topics should be anything Latinos are talking about.

Rodrigo: Right! Voices versus topics. Hear us!

Luis: As the Trump campaign started I just dismissed it. Like his previous campaign, and like we have learned to expect from recent Republican primaries, I saw an extremist clown vying for his two weeks of attention. Yet the campaign is growing. More than the person itself —who I seriously still doubt will reach the presidency— I’m concerned about the forces he is unleashing. Who are his many supporters? I don’t think he needs to buy them any more, like he rented extras for his campaign launch. It is easy to dismiss them as regressive racists. But I would like to go deeper. What is justifying their aggression and fear? Trump is just a catalyst.

Daniel: “How does this affect me” is kind of my mantra, trying to think of people —namely Latin@s— who might not understand how Trump, the GOP or maybe even politics in general affect their everyday lives.

Hector: Who here thinks Trump has at least a decent chance of winning the GOP nomination?

Marce: I do think there’s a way he might get the bulk of the votes. Not sure the GOP would follow.

Daniel: Trump’s election is very possible. Definitely not taking that lightly. He’s a businessman, and the U.S. has been corporatizing for quite some time; it’s the shift from revering a noble leader to an exploitative businessman. And he’s saying all the right things that appeal to white economic structures: exploit the poor, engendered, colored, all for white profit.

Lucilla: You all have to vote for me; I live in a part of the U.S. that doesn’t get to vote. I’m up to my eyeballs in content for a website launching next week. [Will Trump be the] nominee? No. An independent candidate? Yes. I still think he is a plant to make everyone else look so bad. They have to be a better choice than him. Besides immigration, what is his stance on other issues? As much as you don’t want to cover Trump, we have to be aware of where he stands on all issues.

BellaVida: Most importantly we will be well aware of the true facts and remember them on voting day.

Daniel: I think it’d also be interesting to discuss this with different intersectionalities. For example, Trump is also extremely classist: he wants to do away with public social goods and services, such as welfare (which has been in serious decline because of the GOP). And this would affect both the African-American and Latin@ communities. I think it’d be important to show how Trump is not dangerous for just Latin@s, but marginalized communities in general.

Rodrigo: I hope he doesn’t win, but the way this country has been running backward to the 1940s, it would not surprise me.

Hector: I think the vast number of complacent people on the left are learning that history doesn’t have a gradual upward trajectory. Things can go very wrong. Anyway, the question remains: how much or how little attention should Latino media pay Trump and newsmakers like him?

BellaVida: We should offer our perspective and analyze every single one of his misconceptions, providing truth and reality against his ignorant stereotypical rhetoric.

Hector: Exactly. Instead of simply repeating his nonsense. We should provide context.

Omar: As much as I don’t want to give him any attention, all his antics should be covered as a reminder of what is at stake. For over 100 years, immigrant communities (including the undocumented) and POCs have been used as scapegoats.

No one is talking about the long-lasting impact that NAFTA has had especially on the indigenous communities throughout Mexico and Central America. These antics also serve as a distraction to get people to stop talking about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Trade Adjustment Assistance, and the Trade Promotion Authority —or “fast track”— which was approved by the Senate in June. If Trump thought losing anywhere between $50 million and $75 million was something, this time it should be much more significant, like $4 billion.

Hector: For all the Trump bashing, I wish there were someone on the left who spoke with as much unflinching conviction as he does.

Omar: I may not agree with his positions or his style, but I wholeheartedly agree with Christina. And I wish all the other candidates were the same. For example, I don’t really know how Hillary truly feels about many issues, and I certainly don’t trust that what she’s saying is her true feelings on each subject matter. In fact, I think that most politicians just say what we want to hear. Trump says what he thinks. I’d rather have a Trump (with other opinions) than the rest.

Christina: You need someone to disrupt the system to see the underlying rules and orderthe taken-for-granted rules of the game that everyone assumes to be right and true. Trump is good for this: he’s disrupting everything. He even got Ramos to break the rules as a journalist; perhaps taking turns in the media room is not the best way to get heard as a Latino journalist, since the candidate decides who goes first, who does not, who is heard and who is not. Do we really want the one who is supposed to be under media scrutiny deciding who can ask questions? Does order really mean all voices are heard?

BellaVida: Christina, I am loving your point of view so much. I don’t think Jorge Ramos broke any rules. No one is a greater pig than Trump, yet we always expect brown people to be decent, polite, humble, forgiving… He stood up and spoke up when the moment came. He’s a professional who followed his gut.

Omar: The only thing Ramos did wrong was to publicly admit that this is personal for him. As a journalist, that’s a huge no-no in the sense that you can no longer just report, but you will now start coloring everything. That’s why I stated that you can’t be both at the same time: a journalist and an activist. But I’d much rather see Jorge Ramos as an activist.

Julio: Most journalists are activists, if you are doing your job correctly. For example, Walter Conkrite became a news champion of gay rights in the 1970s. One person’s “activist” is another person’s “journalist.”

BellaVida: I keep seeing “Jorge Ramos for President” on Tumblr. lol

Hector: He wasn’t born in the United States (which is a stupid rule).

Marlena: All media has sunk to the level of the supermarket, TMZ tabloids. When will we see discussion of the real issues? The Donald should have kissed Ramos on his way out as he literally kissed away any chance the Republicans had of winning this and future presidential elections. Furthermore, the whole incident was a reminder of his immigration policy: Ramos spoke “illegally” and Trump had him “deported.”

Marce: I’m disappointed with response from other media. What ever happened to “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable”?

Rodrigo: Trump’s tactic is taking attention away from the other GOP candidates, which means they don’t have to have a stand on the issues.

Omar: Quite frankly, they should. But since they are not saying a word, it means they are spineless.

BellaVida: Bottom line: [Latino media] ain’t going no where, and it will keep bringing these issues to [the mainstream’s] face.

Marlena: The rampant apathy is worrisome. Has the U.S. reached a point where we could be foolish enough to elect the Insane Clown Posse? Could the smartest people of America be that dumb to elect a charlatan that will sink the country? Very possible.

Rodrigo: In my state we elected Jesse “the Body” Ventura. Anything is possible, which makes this whole GOP Trump situation an urgent matter.

BellaVida: If Trump wins [the nomination], doesn’t it mean an immediate loss for that political party?

Hector: Hell yeah, it does. And possibly the death of the Republican Party.

Marlena: Good point, BellaVida. But if Bush didn’t kill the party, I highly doubt Trump will.

Daniel: That’s a good and very deep question, BellaVida. Are we in a conservative and liberal paradigm, or a neo-conservative and neo-liberal paradigm; and of course, both are extensions of a white political structure. (I dont think either should exist, but they do.) I think Trump’s election would kill the Republican Party as we know it, but it would also mean the creation of a newer, more conservative and hegemonic political party.

Hector: Looking back now, Bush was only a little to the right of Obama. We need to end this two-party system that only encourages either centrism or extremism. America’s political system consists entirely of two parties in the middle being pulled on either side.

Shaun: When Trump says he will deport 11 million people, build a mega-wall and change the 14th Amendment that provides birth right citizenship to all children born in the United States, he must provide a clear plan to do that. We are very close to looking at a return to the days of Mexican Repatriation in those words from Trump. There is nothing at all new here. Start believing his words and demanding he detail his words with plans of action.

Christina: While I don’t agree with what Trump did to Jorge Ramos philosophically, I am glad that the situation did indeed happen and that Mr. Ramos was the target. Since its inception, Latino Rebels has been arguing, advocating, making fun and reminding the public that Latino voices are shut down, edited from and barrio-ized by the mainstream media. When Jorge was ejected especially for questioning Trump on immigration, it made explicit what LR has been saying since the beginning: Latinos are censored from the mainstream media complex.

(H/T The Nerds of Color)