I don’t like Donald Trump. From what I now know of his life, I don’t think that I would have liked him at any time in his life, had I known him – or even known of him. I didn’t know of him until he espoused the birther conspiracy about President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
Moreover, I am sure that Trump would not have liked me at any time in my life, had he known me. To him, I would have been just another loser – supposedly unlike him. To him, he's a winner – and always has been in his own eyes.
On the strength of Trump’s projection of himself as a winner, he managed to win the votes of enough white voters to emerge victorious in the Electoral College in the 2016 presidential election. He now hopes to win re-election in the 2020 presidential election. Even though the Democratic Party has not yet selected a 2020 presidential candidate to oppose him, he will undoubtedly declare the eventual Democratic candidate to be a loser – among other things. As everyone knows, he likes to use colorful expressions to denigrate others.
In the smart and accessible new 2019 book Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America (Liveright Publishing/ Norton), the American journalist James Poniewozik (born in 1968), the chief television critic of the New York Times who became a TV critic in 1999, to his credit, does not disguise his dislike of Trump in his new book.
More broadly, Poniewozik in his new book says, “Donald Trump used the dominant media of the day – tabloids, talk shows, reality TV, cable news, Twitter – to enlarge himself, to become a brand, a star, a demagogue, and a president” (page xvii). Poniewozik’s wording here “to enlarge himself” hints that Trump is inflated – like a hot-air balloon.
According to Poniewozik, “Television is really two things: an art form that spins stories and an attention machine that transmits real-world images from one place to another” (pages xxi-xxii). He says, “Donald Trump belongs to the attention machine, because Donald Trump is an attention machine” (page xxii; his emphasis).
To set forth his case for disliking Trump, Poniewozik divides his book into three parts: (1) “Origin Story” (pages 1-82), (2) “Antihero” (pages 83-192), and (3) “President Television” (pages 193-281). As he shows, the television antihero is unencumbered by a serious sense of shame.
Let me be clear here. Poniewozik does not claim to have done any original research about Trump’s life. Rather, he is interpreting Trump’s life for us by drawing on publicly available sources of information about him, on the one hand, and, on the other, by drawing on what he considers to be relevant interpretive works by others. Poniewozik’s blending of Trump info with interpretive frameworks gives his new 2019 book whatever measure of interpretive value it may have for us as we prepare ourselves for the 2020 presidential election. But will any of the Democrats running for president read and understand his book well enough to capitalize on it in their primary campaigns?
In my estimate, Poniewozik’s chapters on the television antihero (pages 83-192) are the most lucid for the purposes of contextualizing Trump’s projections of his persona, which his most ardent white supporters reciprocate by projecting the counterpart in their psyches onto him.
In my estimate, the weirdest chapter in Poniewozik’s book is titled “The Gorilla Channel” (pages 236-268). According to reports that Poniewozik reports, President Trump in the White House likes to watch video recordings of gorillas fighting.
In conclusion, Poniewozik’s new 2019 book is an admirably lucid tour de force.
- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: *Norton agency titles; 1 edition (1 October 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1631494422
- ISBN-13: 978-1631494420
- Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3 x 24.4 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 662 g
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- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)