The Trump Conundrum…
Well it didn’t take too long for Donald Trump to renew his baseless (to anyone not named Trump) attacks on Megyn Kelly. So much for Trump-FNC truces, eh? The next question is what does Roger Ailes do now? What do you do about Donald Trump? And here is where I have an argument with myself…
The obvious answer is the gloves have to come off. FNC must crush Trump. So must all of News Corp.’s media properties, especially the Wall St Journal and The New York Post. He wouldn’t listen. He couldn’t leave it alone. And this time it’s inarguable that Megyn Kelly did nothing to deserve this latest set of attacks. How could she? She was on vacation!
It’s time for an FNC full frontal assault. Scorched earth. No more mealy mouthed press releases that leave you wondering if that was an attack or not. It’s time for some good old Brian Lewis style PR.
No more Trump appearances on FNC. He’s blacklisted. Announce it to the world. No more positive Trump coverage. Lots and lots of on the air panel discussions about how Trump’s policies are stupid and how if he’s elected he’ll ruin this country.
Go to the mattresses FNC. It’s time for a street fight; mano a mano with Trump.
And here’s precisely why FNC can’t do any of that…because it plays right into Trump’s hands. He wants that street fight. He wants that battle. It allows him to flourish under a well established narrative where Trump is the outsider looking to upset the apple cart and FNC is on that apple cart. It’s Trump vs everyone and that includes the media. He’ll turn any FNC attack on its head and his followers will eat it up. Trump wants that conflict with FNC the way Keith Olbermann wanted that conflict. FNC never really figured out how to deal with Olbermann. It took O’Reilly years to work it out and his solution (attack G.E.) had limited results.
So don’t fight fire with fire FNC. You’ll lose.
Instead get smart and slow play Trump. Instead of getting aggressive, get passive-aggressive. Trump seeks conflict. He feeds off it. Instead of feeding him conflict, FNC should slowly choke off his oxygen. The best way to do that is to fight him without appearing to fight him. And here’s how you do that…
– Don’t book Trump but don’t make it look like you’re not booking him. Trump won’t be able to prove you’ve blacklisted him (which he could use against you for his own aggrandizement) if you don’t make it look like you have. You can take a page from the Obama playbook with yourselves for a good working example on how to do that.
– Don’t respond to Trump. At all. Not even with mealy mouthed press releases talking about him. Give Trump nothing to hook into and use as a weapon.
– Cut back heavily on Trump based segments and focus on other candidates. You can’t eliminate talking about him on the air completely…that would reveal your strategy (and it doesn’t make any news or business sense either). But you can reduce your coverage of the guy to just basic facts stories (Trump was here and spoke there). Only mention Trump when you have to mention Trump.
Remember, Trump has an insatiable appetite for attention. Good…bad…it doesn’t matter. He can use either to his advantage to sustain the Cult of Trump. What he can’t use is no attention. That’s kryptonite for an egomaniac like that. And reducing coverage of the guy to just bland basic facts stories is anathema. Trump is larger than life and he wants to keep it that way. Making him appear average joe normal sized = death.
FNC cannot defeat Trump. Only Trump can defeat Trump (which should happen by the time of the GOP convention) But FNC can neutralize him to a large extent if it plays it smart.