Trump TV has arrived. Perhaps it was inevitable, but that doesn’t make it any less terrifying. With a roster of Trump’s relatives and ex-CNN employees, they promise to deliver the ‘real’ news. From the first broadcast, you get the sense that you’re watching a segment out of Black Mirror. If only it was, but it’s very real. Trump TV starts with a vacant anchor with mechanical enthusiasm lists off Trump’s ‘accomplishments’.
“Hey, everybody. I’m Kayleigh McEnany. Thank you for joining us as we provide the news of the week from Trump Tower here in New York. More great economic news on Friday: The July jobs report added a better-than-expected 209,000 new jobs. Overall, since the president took office, President Trump has created more than 1 million new jobs, the unemployment rate is at a 16-year low, and consumer confidence is at a 16-year high — all while the Dow Jones continues to break records. President Trump has clearly steered the economy back in the right direction.”
Now, it’s not hard to see the problems with this. Firstly, there’s no talk about the government or the administration being responsible. She says “President Trump has created more than 1 million new jobs,” implying that he has personally created a million American jobs with his tiny bare hands. There is no government on Trump TV, there is only Trump. It also ignores the fact that this is actually lower job growth than at the end of Obama’s tenure. As the broadcast continues, the fact and implications become more tenuous.
But the dearth of facts isn’t the most disturbing thing about the channel. Sure, it’s worrying. But we’ve become used to a delusions from this administration and this President. We expect them to be unreliable. It’s not OK, but it’s very much the current state of our government. It’s the existence of the channel itself. We’ve all been alluding to Orwell, but now we’re actually living in it. The President doesn’t like the news, so the President makes his own news. It’s propaganda and it’s nonsense. Just the fact that it’s shot out of Trump Tower should be enough to send shivers down your spine. It’s a total disconnect from reality, a sickening blur of private business and public office. It’s a step too far. Even the fact that is looks so cheesy and cheap is eerie, with the tacky Trump logo in the background. It’s a lot-budget dictatorship.
Maybe we should have expected it. It’s almost amazing that Trump can still shock and horrify. But though his lack of respect for the truth has become well-known, trying to co-opt the truth is much scarier. Monopolizing, branding, and peddling his version of facts is an abuse of the public. They deserve the impartiality of the news and, for better or for worse, the government is meant to accept coverage of them. Trump’s brand of truth is unacceptable, poisonous, and dangerous to the freedom of press.
“Thank you for joining us everybody. I’m Kayleigh McEnany, and that is the real news,” she chatters, dead behind the eyes. It’s almost too cheesy, too ridiculous, to be scary. Almost.