Monday 21 October 2019

Trump, the second series that everyone secretly wants

Trump Impeachment (CNN)

President Donald Trump is facing an impeachment investigation. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
President Donald Trump is facing an impeachment investigation. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

There was a tremendous scene a few months ago in the Oval Office, when Trump was blathering about China, and off-camera another voice could be heard taking up one of Trump's points, trying to clarify some of Trump's gibberish.

In normal times nobody would have considered this odd: it would just be some special advisor embellishing what the president was saying, no problem.

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But there was a problem with this one - as the camera stayed on Trump, you could see that he wasn't at all happy about this, and sure enough when the expert had finished, Trump doubled down on his own gibberish as if the expert hadn't spoken at all.

Two things were evident here: there was Trump's infantile need to dominate every room, his insistence that he was right when everyone knew he was wrong; and there was this sense that something had happened which was utterly unacceptable to him as a television professional - as if the floor manager had somehow taken it into his head to start explaining something that the host of the show had just said.

Again we were reminded that for Trump, everything is ultimately a TV programme, and that this may be the only thing that can save him - the fact that he knows he is running the greatest TV show of all time, one in which a truly bad man becomes president of the USA. "And it's Live!", as they bellow on Sky Sports.

Personally I find myself on the horns of a dilemma here, as indeed do most right-thinking people. Because clearly we are loving every moment of every day watching him being slaughtered on CNN, now that impeachment is here.

We desperately want him to be escorted out of the White House in handcuffs. But we don't really want this to happen today… or maybe tomorrow… because then the show, the series, this long-running TV classic, will no longer be there for us.

Obviously we don't want him to win a second term, and yet we have no idea how we will cope with life after his departure, so we are inclined to think that we want him to be destroyed… but during the second term.

Which would mean we would have to endure the horrors of his claiming a win in the 2020 election, but with the serious prospect of the ultimate payoff: his downfall in the second series.

And as a TV character, Trump will also be acutely aware of this dynamic: with all his black heart he will want a second series, yet he will know that if there's one thing a TV audience wants, perhaps even more than the story of the worst man in America being president, it is the story of his ruination.

Yes, even some of the Fox people who love him will secretly want that, just as some of the normal people will secretly want him to survive past 2020, all the better to savour his disgrace.

And I'll tell you something else that I secretly want: I want to be able to watch Fox News again, because they stopped it in this part of the world, and frankly we need it. We need to be able to watch what the bad people are doing, what they are saying, because this is the great beauty of the Trump franchise: it is a straight contest between good and bad, right and wrong.

For example I've just been watching the excellent Sky Atlantic drama series The Loudest Voice, about the rise and fall of the Fox supremo Roger Ailes. And knowing Ailes and Fox as I now do, I want to drop in on them from time to time, to keep an eye on them, like I did just before Obama was elected, and they were showing an aerial picture of his house in Chicago - not that they wanted their viewers to call around to the Obama residence of course, but hell, you'll always have a few crazies…

And so impeachment stretches ahead of us, hour after hour on CNN, and like St Augustine we want all this badness to come to an end... just not yet.

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