Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
November 30, 2016

Tabloid President: A Brilliant Trump Era Snapshot

Simply titled "America," this Instagram photo of a newsstand by Brian Denton captures the narrative and style of the incoming Trump administration.

When he goes low, we go. ..  highbrow? mad? poof?

Here’s the simple, and simply brilliant photo about the Trump effect by photojournalist Bryan Denton from his Instagram feed. What it captures is a fact domestic media appreciates but seems tied in knots over how to characterize or respond to.  Take this extended quote from a Politico article about Trump’s “twitter addiction” and the toxicity of the incoming Troll-in-Chief, for example:

If there is a unifying operational theory behind it all, it is a blend of manufactured chaos and can’t-look-away, reality-style entertainment. Not only does the Trump show upend centuries of White House precedent — this is hardly the gentility, tradition and outward-facing order the country is used to — it shrugs at the seriousness of the presidency, distracts from the issues the next president is sure to face and may ultimately diminish the grandeur of the institution itself.

“We saw the rise of this phrase in 2016, the ‘alt-right,’ but I think an even deeper phenomenon is the alt-reality Trump is trying to create,” said Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University. “These Twitter explosions — it’s not that he’s trying to describe the world in a factual way or even trying to be politically clever in aiding his agenda. He’s trying to demonstrate that he has the power to create his own reality and get sufficient numbers of Americans to live inside of it.”

As the photo relates, Trump offers the first tabloid presidency. In that realm, substance, judgement has little to do with anything. It’s all about attention and real estate. You want to know what it means for Trump to take a stand? Well, you’re looking at it.

Whereas outlets like Politico, the New York Times, or thought leaders like Jay Rosen worry about morality, tradition, seriousness, and what approach to take to government by tweet storm, Trump is operating on a completely different plane. One that not only defies analysis but defiles it.

The news here is: to 56 million people, “fresh air” has nothing to do with NPR and “Trump speak” is not an oxymoron. Instead, fake news, tabloid journalism and fighting words, penned, tapped or barked by their new Dylan, derives its legitimacy simply as a rejoinder to the elite.

(photo: Bryan Denton/Instagram. caption: Simply titled “America,” this Instagram photo of a newsstand captures the modus operandi of the incoming Trump administration.)

 

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