I just wanted to take a minute to expand on this tweet I made the other day. It is increasingly apparent that Donald Trump does not exist on the same timescale as other people in the material world. I don’t mean that as some weird knock, I mean it in a literal way: Donald Trump as an entity exists only after postproduction through other people. Every interview, statement, or wail that comes from former friends and people who have been around him exclaim shock at his inconstancy and his inability to sustain through anything.
Everything we know about Donald Trump has been edited for our consumption through other people. The Art of the Deal was cobbled together through half truths by a ghost writer. The Donald Trump of The Apprentice was manufactured for us by the producers and story editors of that show. And now, Gawker has created its own clip format through which Donald Trump can be communicated as nonsensical.
Donald Trump’s power is that he plays to the supercut; he’s giving the editor as much B-roll as possible so that they can make it all come together in a coherent way for them. The general public is used to having to cobble together narratives for themselves, whether that’s as a standard news story (only fleshed out for the public in a combination of social media commentary, cable news, and email forwarding) or conspiratorial call to action (Hilary Clinton, George Soros, or the Koch Brothers are at it again!).
There’s a lot of energy spent calling Trump’s campaign a symptom. It’s the white working class’s dissatisfaction, or it’s a lack of excitement in politics, or it’s his constant claims to being an outsider. It also seems to me that the method he’s employing, this explosive creation of infinite footage on all possible sides of an issue, is a symptom of how we all read news (and the media more generally). We’re already used to doing the brunt of the labor to make the content of the work either fit or create friction with our media narratives. Trump’s just giving us the tools to do what we would anyway.