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Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Trump just schlonged the media again

As I watched the Fox News All Stars last night, Charles Krauthammer, Steve Hayes, and Charles Lane others droned on and on about Trump's tweet that had a video clip from a long gone Wrestlemania. Only Mollie Hemingway defended him. (Updated to include her defense.)

In the clip, Trump clotheslined and body slammed Vince McMahon. Someone took the clip and subbed the CNN logo for McMahon's face.

This was a good jab at the anti-Trump network, but the media acted as if it were a threat of violence against CNN instead of just a joke.

That complaint doubled my amusement. Can anyone be that idiotic and still have the power to speak?

As I watched the Fox News All-Stars yammer on, I had a flash of deja vu.

Just before a holiday, Trump does something that amuses the rest of us but shocks the media into doing nothing but talk about it over and over again while he enjoys his time off.


When had he done that before?

Oh yes, just before Christmas 2015, Trump said Obama schlonged Hillary. Not only was this considered sexist but racist.


That was what they said.

I had a good laugh about it and devoted a chapter of "Trump the Press" to this example of Trump's mastery of the media. Read it. Enjoy it. And note that the same players just fell for it again -- only harder.

Let's all enjoy that chapter again.

Chapter 24. Schlonged.

In the 1978 comedy Animal House, Dean Vernon Wormer thought he finally defeated Delta Tau Chi by revoking its charter and expelling its members. As the frat boys packed to leave Delta House, Bluto rallied them to their one last stand against the dean.

D-DAY: War’s over, man. Wormer dropped the big one.
BLUTO: What? Over? Did you say over? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!
OTTER: Germans?
BOONE: Forget it. He is rolling.

Throughout the campaign, supporters of Donald Trump often quoted Boone when their candidate said something indefensible. Telling it like it is means never having to say you are sorry, to paraphrase another movie. At a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on December 21, 2015, Trump discussed the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination race, when Barack Obama defeated the heavily favored Hillary Clinton.

“I may win, I may not win. But Hillary—thats not a president. Everything thats been involved in Hillary has been losses. Even her race to Obama, she was going to beat Obama. I dont know whod be worse. I dont know. How does it get worse? She was favored to win, and she got schlonged,” Trump said.


He had thrown red tofu to his critics.

“What were going to see—and what we got a taste of last night—was the misogynistic attacks on Hillary Clinton,” David Brock, founder of a pro-Clinton super PAC, told MSNBC the next day.

Clinton’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Palmieri, reacted angrily. “We are not responding to Trump but everyone who understands the humiliation this degrading language inflicts on all women should,” Palmieri responded in a tweet.

Many interpreted schlonged as fornication.

“Who had ‘Yiddish anatomical insult’ in the Trump-offense ghoul pool?” Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone tweeted.

Stuart Varney edited the schlonged clip when he showed it on his show on Fox Business News. “We bleeped it out—that was a reference to a male anatomy, OK? We bleeped it out,” Varney told his audience.

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.

Several people found earlier uses of schlonged in previous elections, including Fritz Mondale’s forty-nine-state loss to Reagan in 1984, when Geraldine Ferraro was his running mate.

So what was going on? Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams gave a four-part explanation in a blog post on December 24. He said Trump knew what he was doing, and he schlonged the press.

“1. Schlonged has just enough deniability built into it (similar to saying someone sucks) that Trump could almost-sort-of-but-not-quite explain it away. That almost-but-not quite quality makes it news,” he wrote.

His second point was the word sounded fun, like osso buco. His third point was people like schlongs. His was not a dry academic analysis.

“4. Schlongs also make you think of Bill Clinton and how hard Hillary must have tried to get a lock on his schlong. That doesn’t help her,” Adams wrote.

Bingo. Like Obama before him, Trump had schlonged the Clintons. Trump planned this. People mistook his extemporaneous speaking style for being undisciplined, but he had mastered speaking from an outline instead of a script.

Timing is everything in comedy and politics. This nontroversy was fun and light. People do like schlongs. And the story broke just in time for the Christmas break when politicians wisely took a time-out so their voters could relax for a few days. He dominated the news cycles without intruding on the public.

He did so by being newsworthy. When I was a young reporter, Tom Roser edited my work at the Stars & Stripes. One day, he pulled me aside and said there were a hundred thousand soldiers in Europe. Each one had a story. Most were boring. My job was to find the ones that weren’t. Trump might have been a boor, but he was never boring. The media that fed off him resented this from the beginning.

“Trump is surging in the polls because the news media has consistently focused on him since he announced his candidacy on June 16,” John Sides of the Washington Post reported on July 20.

He won the news cycles. They whined.

“The pity is this: this is the strongest field of Republican candidates in 35 years. You could pick a dozen of them at random and have the strongest Cabinet America has had in our lifetime, and instead, all of our time is spent discussing this rodeo clown,” Krauthammer said on July 5.

A liberal editor agreed. “Here's a shocker, we are living in anti-establishment times. Who knew we would be sitting here September 6 looking at this landscape. This is a time you don't want to make predictions. It is a fluid rewrite the rules time. Now, this has been summer of Trump, but I think the media has done a great disservice to this country: wall to wall coverage of a bully. And has virtually ignored Bernie Sanders who is today -- but why, it's wall-to-wall coverage, wall-to-wall. It is free air time. It is obsessive. And I think in that it is a disservice. And gatekeepers are defining what is viable,” Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of the Nation, said on ABC on September 6, 2015.

Matthew Dickinson, a professor of political science at Middlebury College, earlier called on the media to get tough on Trump.

“Journalists should take his candidacy seriously by pressing him on the details of his policy pronouncements, and helping the public understand the differences between the public and private sector. The sooner the media begins evaluating The Donald on the details of his policies and his governing expertise, rather than on his deliberately provocative comments designed to mobilize a disaffected public, the sooner The Donald’s political bubble is likely to burst,” Dickinson wrote on July 19.

The idea of an army of Goliaths in the media ganging up on a candidate was decidedly unjournalistic, but not unprecedented because they took down Sarah Palin in 2008. But in Trump’s case, the Goliaths of Washington were over their heads. He had wrestled to a draw the King Kongs of media in New York.

Critics began counting how much air time Trump received. The Media Research Center found that from August 7 to August 20, 2015, Trump received nearly seventy minutes of time on the nightly newscasts of ABC, CBS and NBC. The other sixteen Republican candidates split less than twenty-eight minutes among them.

Well, they just were not very interesting. Trump was. If you cannot command attention, how can you lead the free world?

Media Matters For America, a liberal group funded tax-free by billionaire George Soros, attacked only Fox News for giving him free air time.

“Fox News gave GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump at least $29.7 million in free airtime from May 2015 through the end of the year,” the center reported on January 16, 2016.

But the site did not calculate the value of his air time on ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, and other news networks. And Trump did all the networks, almost any time of day. While most Republicans disliked MSNBC, Trump became a fixture on that network’s Morning Joe show.

However, the constant exposure ran the risk of the Charo effect. Charo was a Spanish singer and comedian who was a fixture on television talk shows in the 1970s and 1980s, who wore out her welcome after a decade or so. And unlike paid media—commercials—Trump had little control of the content.

But The Donald took the risk and reaped the reward. Trump was not buying air time with other people’s money. Instead, he went on every news channel and answered every question. He gave cable news access like no other candidate.

Trump’s mastery of the news led to a comical situation in which after airing a report on the highlights of Trump’s latest free-wheeling speech, the news network would air a commercial showing Jeb Bush delivering the same boring speech to the same small crowd that aired in the same commercial the day before. In mid-July 2015, the two sat at 16 percent each on the RealClear Politics poll average. By year’s end, Trump stood at 35 percent and Bush at 4.3 percent. Bush had spent $49 million on television ads. Trump had spent zero at that point.

Earned media was a controversy throughout the campaign. On March 1, as the results came in from the Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses, on Fox News Megyn Kelly and media critic Howard Kurtz discussed media coverage of the race.

KELLY: If you look at the numbers even on the nightly newscasts, the time they devoted just last night to Donald Trump versus the other two, it was six minutes Trump, I think seven seconds, Rubio. I mean, the disparity was remarkable.
KURTZ: There’s a clear imbalance. And we’ve all had banners awaiting Trump news conference, which shows how he can hijack the news cycle. But a lot of that attention has been negative. But because Trump rode so vociferously against the media, even negative attention helps him, because his fans say the media is just part of the establishment—the political establishment. We like the fact that he pushes back, talks about for example loosening the libel law to make it easier to sue news organizations. So Senator Cruz, I guess, has a point and now he has a talking point in at least one state outside of his home state, but it’s still an uphill battle and the establishment is apoplectic now about Trump.

For years, television pundits complained about all the money rich donors spent on political campaigns, even while their networks milked elections for advertising revenue. Trump minimized ad purchases by maximizing news coverage. Now the talking heads complained that was unfair.

As the schlonging showed, Trump played the political experts with ease. They took his bait in an effort to discredit him. In so doing, they trapped themselves into giving him wall-to-wall television coverage over the Christmas weekend while he relaxed at Mar-a-Lago with his wife, children, and grandchildren.

Schlonged gave way to Auld Lang Syne, and Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry wrote his annual year-in-review column.

“On the political front, the big story is Donald Trump, who declares his candidacy for president and lays out a bold, far-reaching vision for America consisting of whatever thought is flitting through his mind at that particular moment. Trump is deemed to have no chance by veteran Washington-based political experts with vast knowledge of what all the other veteran Washington-based political experts think,” Barry wrote.

On New Year’s Eve, Krauthammer disclosed his winner of year, a choice that Ed Henry said surprised him.

“Well, you should be, but you should also remember that I’m a straight shooter. The obvious political winner in the United States this year is Donald Trump. The most astonishing, unexpected political rise in recent American political history. I would say with the exception of Jeremy Corbyn becoming the leader of the Labour Party, you know, a board-certified communist, the most unlikely. And, you know, I never let feelings get in the way of my ironclad judgment. Although I would say that the thing that probably tipped me over is when Trump, after a lot of hesitation, came out against the killing of journalists. That’s what sealed the deal for me,” Krauthammer said.

Henry then played a video clip of Trump, saying, “I mean, I got to tell you, Krauthammer is terrible. He is so unfair to me. He is the worst. He is the worst. And I’m not allowed to criticize him, so I am going to be very nice. Krauthammer, he is terrible, he’s terrible. You have a guy named Steven Hayes. I never heard of this guy. When my name is mentioned, it’s like he is a boil. He goes crazy.”

To that, Krauthammer replied, “Let me just say, Mr. Trump, or Mr. Thrump, no diphthong in Krauthammer.”

The good doctor knew candor and humor were good for the head. His fellow pundits in Washington could have used a few similar little mental-health therapies, even if they were the kind poured over ice and topped with a small ornamental umbrella.

And the Clintons should have stocked up on their favorite adult beverages because Trump launched the new year with his first paid television ad campaign. His target was not his Republican rivals but rather Bill Clinton’s schlong.

The narrative from political experts was that Clinton would cream Trump in the general election because of the gender gap.

“Donald Trumps verbal attacks on women have done little to dent his meteoric rise, but a deeper look at his polling shows the threat of a gender gap ripping open if he becomes the GOP nominee. The billionaire businessman outdid himself during a rally in Michigan on Monday night, mocking Hillary Clinton for a disgusting bathroom trip she made during the most recent Democratic debate and commenting that Barack Obama schlonged her in the 2008 primaries,” Steven Shepard of Politico wrote.

However, columnist Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post disagreed with this presumption of invulnerability for Clinton among women voters.

“Into this gender minefield lumbers Trump, characteristically unbound and deploying a weapon that none of Clintons Democratic opponents, past or present, has dared to mention. He played the Bill Card,” Marcus wrote on December 28.

After pointing out how President Clinton preyed on women in the workplace, Marcus said ordinarily the sins of the husband are not visited upon the spouse.

“But Hillary Clinton has made two moves that lead me, gulp, to agree with Trump on the fair game front. She is (smartly) using her husband as a campaign surrogate, and simultaneously (correctly) calling Trump sexist. These moves open a dangerous door. It should surprise no one that Trump has barged right through it,” Marcus wrote.

She did not know the half of it. Trump was about to launch his first television ad campaign. Two days after the Marcus column appeared, police charged comedian Bill Cosby with sexual assault in Pennsylvania. Also, Mrs. Clinton’s top aide was Huma Abedin, whose husband, Anthony Weiner, had resigned from Congress on June 21, 2011, after tweeting a picture of a bulge in his underpants.

The audio of Trump’s ad was simply a clip of Hillary Clinton’s speech on April 5, 2013, to the Women in the World Summit: “Womens rights are human rights and human rights are womens rights once and for all. Lets keep fighting for opportunity and dignity.”

The images, though, were of her, her husband, one of his paramours, Anthony Weiner, and lastly, Bill Cosby and her.

The ad ended with the screen turning black as her audio clip ended. Flashed in white letters were “true defender of womens rights” first, followed by “Trump, Make America Great Again!”

Trump, who had openly admitted to cheating on his first wife, dared to go there. He pointed out Clinton helped punish women who complained about her husband’s mistreatment of them.

“She’s not a victim. She was an enabler. She worked with him. Some of these women have been destroyed, and Hillary worked with him,” Trump told Fox News on January 11, 2016.

He pointed to President Clinton settling Paula Jones’s sexual harassment lawsuit for every penny of the $850,000 she sought. That lawsuit led to his impeachment trial and a five-year suspension of his law license because he committed perjury in deposition by denying he had an affair with Monica Lewinsky, which the lawyers for Jones wanted to use to help establish a pattern of sexual harassment by Clinton, even though that affair was consensual.

Within a week of the ad’s premiere, Mrs. Clinton’s twenty-four-point lead in the RealClear Politics poll average dropped to 8.6 points.

Trump had shown in one ad that he could schlong Bill Clinton.

Caution: Readers occasionally may laugh out loud at the media as they read this account of Trump's nomination.

It is available on Kindle, and in paperback.

Caution: Readers occasionally may laugh out loud at the media as they read this account of Trump's election.

It is available on Kindle, and in paperback.

Autographed copies of both books are available by writing me at

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  1. That was a great way to start the morning, Don! Happy 241st birthday to all of us!!

  2. Every day, Mr. Trump gets up and says to himself, "Now, what can I say today that gets the media to say, 'Oooooohhhhhhh, that makes me soooooo MADDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD!' ? "

  3. What if covfefe wasn't an accident? spellchecker had no problem with that word. MAGA.

  4. Revisiting Trump circa 2015 never gets old. You should post book chapters more often.

    Happy Birthday America!

  5. Mr. Trump taking on the media: I'm LOVIN' it. (Every day is the 4th of July!)

  6. I think that even if the media read your books and saw how stupid they were (are), they'd still be unable to stop behaving stupidly. Truly mind-boggling.

  7. Been reading you a long time. Been meaning to buy your book for a while. Just did.

    Didn't even download a sample first as I always do.

    It's the very least I can do for you after all these years of daily free-riding.

    Thank you for every word you write.

    John Henry

    1. Thank you. If you enjoy it please leave a nice review at Amazon. This helps spread word of mouth.

  8. That was the 4th time I've read that chapter; which is fitting because it is the 4th!

    Each time I find something that I've missed or forgotten about, and each time I've had a huge laugh- no actually, LOTS of huge laughs!

    President Trump is, beyond any doubt, the Best. President. EVER!

    And Don Surber is, also beyond any doubt, the best writer discussing him!

  9. Trump defies explanation. He bursts out of every box they create to explain him, and just when they think they have him in a headlock, they find out they are in his atomic pile driver.