The Emmy Awards pulled a publicity stunt that deserves the criticism it’s receiving by permitting former White House Communications Director Sean Spicer to rehab his own image by making a comical appearance, using Melissa McCarthy’s podium to do so. Glaringly out of touch, Stephen Colbert brought Spicer on stage, and Alec Baldwin defended him. Spicer’s appearance was one of several opportunities provided to him by the Entertainment industry and political elite to serve as a novelty tabloid star. Reducing Trump’s presidency to the ratings bonanza that the mainstream media exploited for their own benefit by elevating his candidacy to begin with.
Since he left the White House, Sean Spicer has been inundated with opportunities to exploit the publicity his role in the Trump Administration provides to any elite organization that opts to affiliate with him. Harvard University gave him a fellowship role this Fall. He was offered a role on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ but turned it down only because he cited the overwhelming commitments he has in the next few months. His appearances on mainstream TV shows are easy ratings boosts despite the reduction into a joke it makes Trump’s Administration into.
Variety reported on September 14, “Sean Spicer’s interview on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” proved to be a ratings hit for the ABC late-night show. Spicer’s interview helped Kimmel deliver his highest-rated telecast on any night in three months in Nielsen’s metered markets households with a 2.1 rating. Excluding this year’s NBA Finals-led telecasts in June, Wednesday’s broadcast was Kimmel’s highest-rated single-day telecast in 6 months. Kimmel even out-delivered NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” by 17% in households to rank as Wednesday’s number one late-night talk show.” But Spicer isn’t the only one being used to monetize the rot of the Trump Administration.
Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci is also being flooded with opportunities from the entertainment and mainstream media establishment. This week he will co-host The View and TMZ Live. He has received favorable tabloid reporting on frivolous stories, like People Magazine reporting on a selfie actor Ryan Phillippe took with him last week in a desperate, yet successful attempt to manufacture Scaramucci into a celebrity.
This circus contributes to the sense that Trump’s Presidency is a television show, an entertainment apparatus to solicit viewers, high ratings, and distract voters into viewing Trump as the sole source of the issues facing this country, while popularizing and rehabilitating the actors who have associated directly with it or enabled its ascendance. The manufactured outrage toward Trump serves only to boost these ratings and serve this narrative, while movements and activist efforts on the left continue to be ignored, dismissed, or reduced as intangible.
Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Rachel Maddow, Trevor Noah, and other establishment pundits have received enormous rating boosts since Trump became President, but the resistance these voices offer is a hollow one, best exemplified by Fallon’s infamous interview with Trump in which he playfully messes up his hair. As Gil Scott Heron’s famous song notes, “the revolution will not be televised,” as the solutions and antidotes to Trump and his policies won’t be offered by the mainstream entertainment and media elite. Rather these sources will exploit the outrage his presidency elicits into the continuation of the reality TV show that Trump’s campaign, and now his presidency is treated as by these apparatuses.