There are two kinds of celebrities. You can become famous by doing something — musicians, actors, writers, sportspersons, most politicians fall into this category. The second route is to become famous for being famous. US President Donald Trump managed to turn a persona from a reality show into the centrepiece of a successful political campaign. Now, Trump is going back to his roots.
“On Monday, at 5:00 o’clock,” tweeted Trump on Tuesday, “I will be announcing the most dishonest and corrupt media awards of the year.” The subjects of the latest addition to the award season will cover “dishonesty”, “bad reporting” and other categories in “fake news”. Twitter users have latched on to the hypocrisy, pointing out Trump’s association with Steve Bannon, who owns the fact-agnostic, right-wing Breitbart News, or the lies and evasions the president himself is accused of. Twitterati may be missing the point.
As multiple profiles have pointed out, Trump’s record as a businessman has been patchy. In his political avatar, he is overseeing arguably one of the most polarised periods in American politics and society. Running a superpower, it turns out, is far more difficult than leading a campaign. There was one area of his life, however, when Trump’s personality proved to be an unqualified asset — reality TV. His signature phrase, “you’re fired!”, made The Apprentice a profit-making enterprise. Is it any surprise that after a troublesome year in politics, he wants to go back to the comfort zone? Of course, the president can’t sack journalists. He will have to settle for “you’re fake”. But even Trump must realise, as so many on Twitter have, that this time a catchphrase may not increase his popularity.