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Here's the fundamental reason so many are obsessed with Trump

November 25, 2020 in Blogs

By Amanda Marcotte

Are we addicted to Donald Trump? It’s a question that’s haunting journalists and political commentators, most of whom hate Trump but cannot deny that his name drives traffic and ratings. Even though Trump lost the election and Joe Biden will be the next president, Trump continues to be the big attention draw for political websites and cable news networks.

Part of that is completely understandable. Trump is still big news. He literally spent the past few weeks attempting a coup. While he failed, that doesn’t change the history-making fact that he even tried, or that he got so much support. Certainly Biden, whose main activity is finding boring-but-competent people to staff his administration, can’t compete with that, and there’s no real indication that he wants to. (Unlike Trump, Biden views governing as a job and not just an opportunity to get attention.)

But there is no doubt that the media remains flatly fascinated with Trump, in no small part because, as Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir argued Monday, “our readers and viewers have enabled and encouraged us at every step” and stories about Trump “outperform every other category of reporting, commentary or analysis we can possibly offer.”

As Philip Bump at the Washington Post documented Tuesday, since Trump first announced his run for president, he “is the political figure who garners the most search interest, cable news mentions or screen time each month since June 2015.”

Because of all this, it’s become quite fashionable in some circles to haughtily declare that all this interest is tawdry, and that if we simply ignored Trump, he would go away. Hardly a week goes by on social media where I don’t get some reader who, sick of it all, will lash out at me personally and demand that I stop writing about, tweeting about or otherwise giving attention to Trump.

But the command to ignore him didn’t make the bully disappear in junior high school and it certainly doesn’t work with the president. Nor can Trump’s importance in our politics be easily reduced to a pop psychology assumption that all fascination is inherently addiction and therefore bad.

The reality is that the Trump obsession isn’t really about Trump himself anyway. It’s about his followers.

Don’t get me wrong. I confess some interest in his psychology, which our traffic shows is widely shared. But let’s face it — even on the sociopath …read more


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