Was anyone truly surprised to learn that Donald Trump bragged about forcing himself on women in the “Access Hollywood” video released Friday? If you were, you haven’t been paying attention — from Meghyn Kelly to Miss Piggy (AKA Alicia Machado), Trump’s made his thoughts about women quite clear. If they’re unattractive in his eyes (or worse yet, if they threaten him), they’re disgusting and wrong. If he thinks they’re hot, he’ll make a move whether it’s invited or not. The video shows this mindset at its most blunt, letting us see how predatory he is when he thinks the cameras are off…and how fast he turns on the “charm” when he knows they are. When is a hug not a really a hug? When Donald Trump demands one from you.
But without online media, we may not have seen it with our own eyes at all: NBC got the video early last week (they own “Access Hollywood”), but they sat on it apparently out of fear that Trump would sue them. Someone then fed it to the Washington Post, which apparently vetted it and posted it online within hours.
When we talk about New Media breaking the news monopoly of the TV networks and other news gatekeepers, we usually don’t highlight an outlet like the Washington Post. That’s Old Media, not blogs and Twitter, Drudge and Breitbart. But the Post IS an online outlet, and this fact was critical on Friday.
If a Post reporter had received the clip fifteen years ago, he or she would have written it up in text — online video was not a good fit for an era of print papers and dial-up internet. But Friday, the Post could publish it in a format that every American with a smart phone or WiFi could access. Rather than hearing a few edited soundbites on TV or reading a transcript, people could hear for himself just what Trump sounds like when he thinks only The Boys are listening. This is Trump unfiltered, with a braggart’s tone and a mindset that should have died with Ghenghis Khan and the droit du seigneur.
It’s not just the WORDs he uses, which are crude enough, it’s HOW he says them — how casual he is in describing how he can get away with sexual assault (grabbing women “by the pussy”) because he’s famous. That hits a lot of women deeply, because they themselves have had to fight off advances from entitled men in their own lives…when they could.
Trump’s unapologetic “apology” video — released on Facebook and Twitter — did him few favors, either. This time his tone is of the bully who got caught, saying he’ll act better if they’ll just let out of the principal’s office without detention. It’s hard to come away from it convinced that he thinks he did anything wrong or even unusual, and it’s also hard to believe that he’s going to change his spots in the next four weeks. His diehard white male supporters won’t desert him, particularly the ones who talk and act just like him, but Republican women and most people in the middle? Unless this world is more seriously disturbed than I realize, they’ll flee from him as fast as their legs — attractive or otherwise — can carry them.
Trump’s candidacy was already fading before this weekend, but the public unveiling of his unvarnished self should seal the deal. To me, the only question that remains is how many other Republicans — his enablers — he’ll drag down into the gutter of history with him. See both videos below.
The “Access Hollywood” Video, Via the Post
Photo: Donald Trump speaking with the media at a hangar at Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona. Photo by Gage Skidmore.