WASHINGTON, Aug. 7, 2015 — “Why should I give up that leverage?” asked Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump of Fox’s Sean Hannity. He was referring to his less than subtle threat to run an insurgent third-party campaign should he lose the Republican nomination. “If they don’t treat me well — you know, you’re talking about the establishment Republicans — if they don’t treat me well … why should I make that pledge now?”
A post-debate Drudge Report poll of 582,000 viewers gives Trump the win in the debate with 44 percent, with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz following at 14.3 percent. (Note: These numbers are changing as more people vote in the poll.) Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush receives 2.5 percent and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie comes in dead last at 1.3 percent.
Trump is out of control.
That is to say, he is his own man and increasingly less dependent on support from Republican Party hacks or positive press coverage. In fact, the more the media criticize him, the higher he climbs in the estimation of his fellow Americans.
The mainstream media’s credibility with the public is, as Trump understands well, in tatters. A 2014 Gallup poll discovered that an “overarching pattern of the past decade has shown few signs of slowing the decline of faith in mass media as a whole.”
That is, unless you are talking about Fox News. The Nielsen folks report the Republican debate on Fox attracted 24 million viewers. “Most watched cable news program ever,” read the headline in Adweek.
The Trump effect is starting to worry the ankle-biting lefties at Media Matters. “The questions posed last night to all the candidates were carefully considered,” they said of Fox’s debate moderators, “and key to the strategy behind those questions was keeping the audience on Fox’s side, not on the side of the actual candidates running for president. That isn’t a strategy for good journalism, or for aiding a thoughtful electoral process. That’s a strategy of control.”
Translation: With capitalist Trump now the political version of Marvel Comics’ Incredible Hulk — a puny human who transforms into a green, musclebound behemoth when angered — Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders’ campaigns to sell Hugo Chavez-type socialist snake-oil aren’t getting any buyers.
Worse still, “Fox may have realized they can no longer control Trump; but they’re definitely trying to maintain full control over the mainstream narrative about their ‘credibility,’ and thus the Republican primary,” said Media Matters.
And that means ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and CNN will lose even more viewers to Fox’s ultimate reality show: “The Apprentice Republican Presidential Candidate,” starring Donald Trump.
Traditional media may have lost “full control over the mainstream narrative” forever.
“Ahh, getting stronger, I can feel it,” the lumbering green comic book character once grunted. “Power feels good. I want more! They shall all be afraid of the Hulk!”