May 15, 2016
Several/many years ago, Bill Simmons introduced the concept of the Tyson Zone. By this time, ex-heavyweight champ Mike Tyson had done jail time for rape, chomped off Evander Holyfield’s ear, tattooed his own face, and a hundred other things I can’t even remember.
Being in the Tyson Zone means you could hear any story about someone and regardless of how implausible it might seem, could not assume it was false. Donald Trump entered the zone months ago, but now he’s exceeding the man it was named for.
Incidentally, Tyson endorsed Trump, something he trumpeted before the Indiana primary. Endorser Bobby Knight, while controversial, won three baseball national championships at the University of Indiana. Tyson did his jail time there.
Just in the past couple days, Trump had to disavow the social media posts of his ex-butler, current historian at Mar Lago and denied audio clips of him calling reporters under an assumed name to publicize himself back in the 1990s.
Trump isn’t firing his butler/historian. The Secret Service is investigating him now, as his Facebook posts advocated killing President Obama. This surfaced days after discovery of an avowed white supremacist on the Trump delegate list for California. He’s now recused himself from consideration.
Not only do few people find any of this shocking, it’s not likely to appreciably move Trump’s numbers in any particular direction. A normal politician would never live down the stories about calling reporters as John Barron to brag about his sexual conquests and financial advances.
For Trump, it’s just Friday, even if he got rattled enough to hang up mid-interview. It’s tough to put Trump stories in that context of a normal/conventional candidate, but this is an example of one that could paralyze a traditional candidate, while leaving The Donald completely unharmed.
It’s embarrassing, right? There’s even audio. However, audio isn’t video, so Trump can claim with a straight face that many people now imitate his voice. In this way he can deny something he previously admitted to under oath.
His suppprters either believe him and/or enjoy watching him take the media for another spin. His detractors have more evidence they didn’t need. We go on to fight another day.
Apparently the Washington Post has a veritable army of scribes (a number north of 20) investigating the crevasses of The Donald’s existence in preparation for a book out before Election Day. They may find something new, though many Trump “scandals” involve things the New York tabloids covered decades ago.
We have learned something important from the week and a half since Trump won Indiana and dispatched his remaining foes. He will continue to completely dominate media coverage. Many theorized he would not carry his advantage from the primary season into the fall.
The media would turn. Instead of using Trump as a cudgel against the likes of Ted Cruz, they would savage him (or at least make him an object of scorn) to protect Hillary. Yes, the mainstream media has an unquestioned leftward lean. The argument is how drastic the lean is.
However, they still need a story, still need ratings. Many anchors get extra compensation when they’re good. Analysys get extra screen time when there’s something to talk about. Careers are being made this season.
Even without a Jeb Bush to troll, Trump is having no problem finding fresh daily news to make. In less than two weeks, he’s carried out an extended dance with Speaker Ryan, altered his tax policy, backed away from his Muslim ban, openly considered a negotiated default on Treasury debt, created controversy with his taco bowl tweet, and so much more.
There is always something new. Sometimes unforseeable (taco bowl), other times comical (John Barron), often just interpersonal conflict (Ryan.) Hillary is comparatively boring, limits media access and wants to talk about carefully scripted topics.
Many of her supporters think it’s unfair that a more serious candidate is being eclipsed by a huckster. If the worst that happens is remaining in the shadows, they should be grateful. In a race between two unpopular candidates, the invisible one should do better.
He won’t let her off that easily. Trump’s media hack is still in full effect. At a time of his choosing, we’ll hear all about the Clinton Foundation. Trump is capable of mostly ignoring charges from Hillary by creating a newer and bigger distraction. She is not.
If you were sick of the Trump circus and hoping for replacement summer programming, or for the media to turn on him once nominated, guess again. We’re still living in Donald’s news cycle.
The Trump Zone is alive, well, and may even elect a president. When nothing he could say or do surprises you, his opponent has a problem. Tyson was just the precursor.