In the days after a long and mostly unflattering exposé on Donald Trump’s private interactions with women was published by the New York Times, Trump and his posse of goons have seemed genuinely outraged by the portrait of the Republican presumptive nominee for President as a childish, skirt-chasing horn dog.They have taken to the airwaves, demanded retractions and corrections, and even threatened to sue the Times.
For . . . journalism, I guess.
The Times interviewed dozens of women who mostly told of Trump’s obsession with women’s physical appearance and the humiliating comments he would make to them in private and public. If these dozens of women are to be believed, the Trump they knew was at best an insecure chauvinist and at worst a serial sexual harasser who probably racked up a long list of workplace violations.
On the spectrum of damaging PR problems for male candidates, with one being “binders full of women” and 10 being Rielle Hunter, the profile was at least an eight and a half. Guys who judge bikini contests for a living and call women who work for them fat don’t usually become president.
And yet, here we are. For reasons that the world’s top physicists will study for years, the rules of gravity never seem to apply to Trump.Sure, some small segment of the electorate, already disinclined to support Trump, might find it all off-putting. But my guess is that on a macro level, this thing was a huge gift to him.For one, the Times just gave Trump his favorite kind of news cycle: one in which he is not talking about issues. As much as he likes blurting out tough-sounding bumper stickers about building walls and banning Muslims, he doesn’t have any desire — like, any at all — to go any deeper.
That’s because his biggest weakness isn’t actually character. It’s that he doesn’t know much (or care much) about foreign or domestic policy, the legislative process, the Constitution or what a president does. So instead of sitting down with Wolf Blitzer to explain how, exactly, a policy of international nuclear proliferation makes the world safer, or how he, as president, would “punish” a woman who had an abortion, he gets to refute his reputation as a womanizer by talking up all the women he promoted at his organization. Which do you think he prefers?
Secondly, there is no villain on the left or right more ideal than the evil media. For Bernie Sanders, the evil media doesn’t give him enough attention. For Hillary Clinton, the evil media has given her way too much scrutiny. And here, for Trump, the evil “failing” New York Times published “a lame hit piece,” “a joke,” “a false, malicious and libelous story” that was “totally dishonest.”
The Times is a particularly good villain for Trump’s supporters, who already despise the pretentious and pompous New York establishment media (for failing to embrace their billionaire New Yorker?) and are totally unbothered by his intimations over the course of the campaign that he would “open up the libel laws” to allow more lawsuits against journalists.
The third reason Trump likely loves this piece is it gives him the opening to bring up Bill Clinton. While Trump has demonstrated a real soft spot in his heart for non-sequiturs, even he probably knows he can’t just bring up Monica Lewinsky apropos of nothing.
Enter the Times to solve this problem, giving him permission to swivel the spotlight back on the Clintons: Bill’s cheating, Bill’s alleged sexual harassment, Hillary’s enabling, Hillary’s cover up, Hillary’s bullying Bill’s victims. Even the most rabid anti-Trump conservatives, such as myself, believe going after the Clintons for their indefensible behavior over the years is totally fair game.
So believe me: Despite all the feigned outrage, Trump is thrilled about this New York Times “hit job.”
How do I know for sure?
He won’t stop talking about it.
“In all seriousness, when was the last time a major party nominee spent day making sure MORE people saw story they disliked?” asked Times reporter Maggie Haberman on Twitter.
Contact Cupp at thesecupp.com. This column originally appeared in the New York Daily News.