I just saw part of the Triumph’s Summer Election Special 2016 for Hulu on YouTube. In this segment a focus group of Trump supporters watch fake new Trump commercials and then give their take on them. It’s funny, clever—and scary.
The fake ads range from the ridiculous to the horrific. What is astonishing is how many of the members agreed with the ideas expressed, and wanted to help The Donald implement them.
I’ve run and participated in focus groups before. People knew they were being recorded. If the group was going to be shown or broadcast, releases had to be signed. I would have been fine if my opinion on garlic-flavored Pepsi was released to the world on YouTube. (Note: I’m against it!) But after watching the participants in this focus group video, my first thought was,”They can’t be serious. They don’t REALLY believe that.” But what if they do?
When I first heard the violent rhetoric, bigotry, sexism, homophobia and hate coming out of right-wing talk radio I believed what a lot of people did. “It’s just an act to get ratings.” I thought that if you had a serious conversation with these people they would admit it. “Of course I don’t believe that stuff! I’m not a monster! This is just entertainment.” Back in 2004 I confirmed that the local right-wing talk radio hosts weren’t joking. That’s when I took action to alert their advertisers and defund them. Talk of killing people wasn’t funny then and it isn’t funny now. Threatening speech is not protected speech.
So what is our response when we see, hear or read Trump supporters who are serious about harming others? What should we do? Dismiss it as a joke? Assume they were being sarcastic? Change the channel?
Also, it’s one thing for people to make their racism or bigotry known to the world, it’s quite another when they talk about capturing large groups of people and shipping them off in trucks as casually as we ship heads of lettuce.
How Trump gets away with murder threats
When Politicians say something horrible, and are challenged about it, the media often gives them a “second bite of the apple.” They are given the opportunity to “walk the comment back.” Some have surrogates who “clarify their meaning.” The surrogates demand that the public “understand it in context” or explain how they define words differently than the rest of the world.
All this is designed to help a politician pull back from the abyss of self-immolation. Politicians and their staff know this and take advantage of this process all the time. It’s a good practice for journalists to follow, since it can clear up misunderstandings and one-sided attacks. Regular people should be given this chance too. I say this because many of us have said or written things in haste or anger. However, if after discussion and analysis, the intent is clear, there should be consequences.
Welcome to NaziTown. Population: You
The writers for the special obviously set up the fake ads to have parallels with Jews in Germany. It’s clearly, “Can we get Trump supporters to admit they would act like Nazis?” I mean, come on, “Ethnic group goes into a small space, the doors are locked from the outside and they are hauled away.” Sound familiar? I would think most people could see the connection, maybe they did, but it was cut out of the clip. (I added the Schindler’s List footage with the Trump supporters voice over. It gave me the creeps, too damn close to reality!)
Later in the segment they suggest abortion clinics be put in poor neighborhoods and women be paid to have abortions (but with a cap, otherwise they’ll just get pregnant for the free casino chips!) Another segment, not shown, sounded like a Dr. Mengele experiment. “I agree with Donald Trump that the only way to compete with the Chinese is by lowering their IQ by injecting their water with various paints and solvents.” WTF?
I asked David Feldman, one of the writers on this special, to have Robert Smigel on his podcast to talk about this segment. Were the participants all actors in on the gag? If not, who got the sign off from the focus group participants who were in the clip? What did they tell them about the piece? I’d also love to hear from the participants. Will they say, ‘I knew it was a joke!” or will they “double down” on their comments?
If they are serious, that Trump’s horrible ideas are the best, I’ll quote Triumph “Yes they are. For me to poop on!”