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James Poniewozik

Donald Trump has referred to his election in 2016 as “one of the greatest nights in the history of television”—an odd way for a world leader to characterize a victory, but in his case, an accurate one. Trump’s election, the culmination of a celebrity career based on creating appearances and illusions in the media, was proof positive of the centrality of television and its entertainment imperatives as a means to power in America. The fragmented, polarized media environment of the late 20th and the early 21st century made President Trump possible, and he used its devices—reality TV, sensationalized cable news and social media—to run his campaign as a nonstop show. And his presidency, driven by his personal obsession with and addiction to television, has made public life into the equivalent of a 24-hour series performed for the benefit of an audience of one. In the reality show of his presidency, Trump portrays himself as the protagonist of an almost cartoonish version of the American metanarrative of success. Yet he triumphs in the manner of an antihero, who derives gratification from getting what entitled elites previously denied him. In success à la Trump, prior failure continues to sting.

 

James Poniewozik ist Journalist und Fernsehkritiker. Er ist der Chef-Fernsehkritiker der New York Times.

Er veröffentlichte im Herbst 2019: "Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America"