Donald Trump knows the media better than they ever knew him. According to the author of Simon & Schuster’s Citizen Trump: A One Man Show, the media is now ignoring a vastly under-served market.
Author (and film director) Robert Orlando says Trump’s removal from social media and Rush Limbaugh’s death jolted the media landscape. Trump may be coming back with his own social media platform, but where’s the non-political media serving Trump’s 75 million supporters?
“Conservatives ‘own’ news about politics, but who’s telling the rest of their story?” Orlando’s book argues. “No American political figure better understood — or was less frightened by — the raw power of media than Donald Trump, who once dreamed of being a filmmaker.
“Trump’s media savvy seized the public stage and advanced a nationalist agenda: his supporters are ignored.”
Orlando asks: “Are we just getting the media we deserve?”
Conservatives have spotted untapped markets before. Since Limbaugh went national in 1988, conservative media has grown to dominate politically-focused talk radio, Newsmax/Fox News/OAN, and other conservative outlets. But simultaneously, the Left took complete control of academia, the bureaucracy, and the rest of media, particularly films and books.
“Why does the culture seem to keep moving leftward even when Republicans control the White House, courts, and Congress?” Orlando asks. “Because you can’t drown out Hollywood and the mainstream media with AM radio and political repartee. You might win a few elections, but you lose the culture’s soul.
“Citizen Trump: The One Man Show was the exception to that rule. Trump had the star power, the New York street-fighter drive, and the complete understanding of both the way media works and his vast audience, the forgotten 75 million left behind by the coastal elite.”
When Trump voters turned off Fox News after the election and when the liberal media began seeing ratings crash in February, what non-political/non-liberal channels remained? Newsmax and One America News are growing, but the election was over, leaving little to watch besides leftist politics.
U.S. media caters to the 477 U.S. urban counties that voted for Joe Biden. Where do Americans in the 2,496 “Red” U.S. counties that voted for Trump go for entertainment without the liberal “woke” filter?
As a federal judge recently wrote: The most influential papers, The New York Times and The Washington Post, “are virtually Democratic Party broadsheets” and “nearly all television — network and cable — is a Democratic Party trumpet.”
Orlando, who has profiled cultural heroes from St. Paul to Ronald Reagan, explains, “When you look at any film or TV show today, you see we’re getting the media we deserve. Conservatives in Hollywood will tell you the same. The films that do get made are only political, and it’s a trap because the magic of film culture always trumps mere politics.
“Look what happens when you tell a bigger story than the daily Red vs. Blue clash?” Orlando asks. “Back in 2004, a full 16 years ago, Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ’ exploded a repressed audience: Gibson had to spend his own $18 million, but he made $611 million worldwide, the highest-grossing R-film ever.”
New book wonders: What happened to the rest of our country?
The new book, available in June, inspires questions like:
- Where is the conservative movie studio?
- Did we care what party Jimmy Stewart or Cary Grant belonged to?
- Why aren’t we producing more books and films that connect with America’s Red counties?
- Where are the American Tolkien’s changing the world?
“We need creatives who boldly express a universe open to faith and inspiration, not a political platform,” Orlando argues. “Jesus said give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s — he didn’t say we should join Caesar. He made a distinction between the sacred and profane world.”
Art is born in the West as a vision born of the Greek tragedy and Christian redemption, Orlando stresses.
Each generation transforms the collective hero’s journey into an expression of its time, as did Dante or Shakespeare and Beethoven. They were not ideologues.
Short term, Orlando adds, conservatives “could oppose the accusations of the Left with ‘Counter Left’ media presentations, but this is not a solution. We live in God’s world, and creative expression is evidence of our free wills to learn and choose and shape our destiny, the opposite notion from systems of oppression. For now, the media’s agenda is winning, but long-term, they would need to grow more totalitarian to sustain that level of control.”
Orlando often turns to the prescient warnings of Marshal McLuhan, who feared the “tribalizing power” of the new media. McLuhan envisioned a more tribal media provoking people to push back, returning to more unifying fields of closed, more oral cultures and the deeper bond of family.
Ultimately, he says no one candidate is going to overcome digital tribalism or takedown empires.
“The underlying issues are much bigger than Trump or even a Ronald Reagan and bigger than printing presses or digital highways,” Orlando says. “They’re more akin to an awakening or restoration of the Western spirit that finds freedom in self-expression.”
Author Joseph Serwach, MA, is an award-winning former journalist who wrote for the Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Detroit Business, and dailies in South Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. A media and communications consultant, his current research focuses on the intersection of faith, family, and culture.
“Why does the culture seem to keep moving leftward even when Republicans control the White House, courts, and Congress?” Because you can’t drown-out Hollywood and the mainstream media with AM radio and political repartee. You might win a few elections, but you lose the culture’s soul.” — Author Robert Orlando.