Commentary

Is every non-party candidate “like Trump”?

Having come from outside of calcified party structures doesn’t make a politician be “like Trump”.

I know… It’s not like the media is simplistic and stupid – they just ask stupid questions because their audience is supposedly stupid. I don’t know why we put up with the media’s condescension, blaming us for their simplistic and dumb coverage. Like when a reporter is totally not sexist, she is just asking a female interviewee about her kids because that is what the audience wants to know. Sad shrug, what can poor reporters do. They can’t fight the imaginary audience in their head. The one that is stupid and sexist and the media can’t resist that.

This is what crosses my mind every time CNN calls a politician “a Trump”.

It happened to French wunderkind Éric Zemmour, who skyrocketed into the forefront of attention by being a seasoned attention seeker and a Putin-style creator and exploiter of social division. See what I did there? By mentioning Putin to describe the type of outrage-pumping self-promoters who exploit minds weakened by artificial divisions, I have created a red herring that sticks with the name Zemmour and that gets repeated and remembered. In lieu of actual information about that candidate.

zemmour trump

At least Zemmour is a proved and tested populist outrage creator – just like Trump. So is Viktor Orbán, by the way – although he is much more intelligent than Trump. But the desire to rule without balances and counter-arguments is strong with both. And that is a more relevant thing to have in common than having come from outside of parties. And there are plenty of other politicians who share characteristics with Trump. Even more relevant things than having come from outside of parties.

Last week CNN kept drilling in the message that the candidate of the united Hungarian opposition is “like Trump” just because he didn’t come from any of the parties. That’s it. That was the whole basis of the comparison. And that interview segment must have gone down a hundred times, considering how many times CNN repeats itself, so the whole world must have written off the opposition candidate as “a Trump” by now.

In the German-speaking media an Orbánist talking head started attaching “Trump” as an adjective to Márki-Zay – with an obvious agenda. They must smear the guy full-time now, that is what Orbán pays them for. In the English-speaking media the meme came from an unfortunate sound bite by Péter Krekó. He said to Euronews that yes, Márki-Zay is like Trump inasmuch as they both come from outside of the party structure. So the media started parroting that “Márki-Zay is like Trump”. (But sure, the audience are the idiots, not the media.)

CNN used that sound bite in an interview with Márki-Zay, confronting him with it. What do you think gets remembered? The question or his answer?

Krekó accidentally provided a radioactive red herring. His statement was semantically correct, but it was as relevant as saying that Trump is like a Osama bin Laden because they both wanted to make their countries great again.

Plenty of political candidates come from outside of the old party structure. That doesn’t make them all be “like Trump”. And Trump has hijacked a very traditional party on his way up to the presidency, by the way, so the analogy falters immediately. All it had served was to distract every single American, for a long time. CNN, of all things should be aware of the impact – being so serious about dumbing things down. You can’t just throw Trump’s name in without misleading attention and distracting from the point. Although it is an effective and well-cultivated clickbait.

I am no fan of the guy but he audience still deserves better than simplistic analogies based on semantically correct statements that have nothing to do with the phenomenon at hand.

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