When we look back at the start of the race for President of the US in 2015, most notable will be the first debates sponsored by Fox News that, along with the hoopla of its media machine, were hyped up in frenzy of cable fireworks. Grand staging in the same arena to host the 2016 National Republican Convention added to the aura that this was a big deal.
I think that what we have come to now know is that the media itself is the big deal. In a bid to unseat the proverbial ogres of Iowa and New Hampshire and their traditional if odd roles of presidential arbiters, Fox and CNN to follow are changing the course of history by playing a role in determining who will become leader of the free world.
Let’s talk about the show itself. With a backdrop to beat the official Commission on Presidential Debates, Fox festooned the arena with the air of authenticity and even brought in a few other private sector logos, like Facebook, who from now on will be seen as a credible source of who is making the most Internet (never mind good or bad) noise, with exciting graphics of red to deeper red impact by a candidates name plucked from the land of cyberspace. We are told that Trump scores deep red in states that care about immigration and Walker gains deeper tones in close-by but all-important Iowa. What? None of this means anything, but it is so propped up that one would think this coding means one candidate is getting the best of another, and nothing can be further from the truth. But this is the glittery lights of fame and fortune, baby.
The big winner of course is the corporation who decided it could make a bundle off of “trumping” this up as the real deal, whipping up the conservatives and liberals alike and knocking the ball out of the ratings and revenue park, elevating the brand of Fox and the eyeballs for advertisers. You’ve got to give it to them; this was media and marketing genius at its best.
In weeks leading up to this latest installment of a pay-to-play presidency, stories were leaked by Fox about the preparation of its media stars. “We even thought about using the arena basketball horn for time running out when chatting over a drink,” heralded one of the exclusive Fox programmers leading up to the event. Questions to be asked and gimmicks to be used, like the pop quiz which smoked out Donald Trump to start the show by having him admit he wasn’t a true Republican, were priceless theatre that kept Facebook (of course) abuzz.
The icing on the cake was the panel of Fox media stars and their performance. I would give each an A+ for their roles. The questions were good, smart, and provocative at both the kid’s table and main stage events. Where many expected a circus, the clever goading by the news panelists left you no wonder who was really in charge. It was the media in charge all of the way, even down to the self-congratulatory banter that followed getting their necessary cast of candidates off the stage and settling into the real show – about those who asked the questions and certainly not those who answered them.
Yes, this was a polished act and the stars shined brightly in the Fox newsroom where powerhouse king maker Roger Ailes, no doubt, took a victory lap among his stars, hardly with any politicians in tow.
THE PEACE MAN