July 11, 2016

DON SURBER’S TRUMP THE PRESS: I’ve almost finished reading a galley of Don Surber’s new book on Donald Trump and the 2016 presidential campaign. Glenn’s already given Trump The Press a link, and deservedly so. Here’s my overall impression: Don Surber has written an essential first history that is also a fun and witty romp. The book is a professional journalist’s exercise in factual due diligence. He documents –in arrogance-stripping detail– media bias, ineptitude, exaggeration and failure to learn from self-inflicted, unforced errors.

Surber has a knack for irony-rich chapter titles that also state the theme. Here are two examples: “An Army of Vincent Canbys” (Canby panned Stallone’s breakout Rocky movie, Trump’s candidacy is dismissed by similar toff experts); “Jumping the Shark” (The Fonz, of course.How many times has the media written Trump off as a lost cause due to perceived excess?).

Surber’s review of the December 2015 “schlonged” controversy is a wicked chuckle. Recall Trump said Hillary “got schlonged” when Obama whipped her in 2008. The reaction was instantaneous and vicious. He’s a wicked Republican misogynist! Hillaryites screamed. It’s a synonym for fornication.

“But was “schlonged” really a synonym for fornication? NBC analyst Jeff Greenfield asked a few linguistic scholars and found that while the noun schlong is Yiddish for penis, the verb schlonged is not. “On further review, Trump is right on this. ‘I got schlonged’ is a commonplace New York way of saying: ‘I lost big time,’ without the genital reference,” Greenfield tweeted on December 22.”

OK, Trump won that one on fact. However, if voters associated “schlonged” with Bill Clinton’s schlong, then Trump had also underscored an opposition weakness. Bill Clinton was the real misogynist. Perhaps they did. Surber argues that “People mistook his (Trump’s) extemporaneous speaking style for being undisciplined, but he had mastered speaking from an outline instead of a script.” Whatever happened Trump continued to win “the news cycles” and he did so by “being newsworthy.”

Good book.

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