On Reddit, user Amaranthine cites a tweet from Soniasaraiya that points to a signal that one of Melania’s speechwriters may be a mole working against the Trump campaign: Was Melania rickrolled?
Rickrolling is a prank in which misleading text links to a video of Rick Astley singing his 1987 hit “Never Gonna Give You Up.” For example, if I wrote “Here’s an incredible secret video of Hillary whispering to Bill that she lied about Benghazi,” and you click on the link, you’ve been rickrolled.” The video has been viewed over 224 million times, but no one knows how many times on purpose. (Interestingly, Rick Astley seems to have plagiarized the song from this awkward amateur version.)
This not such a unique, unexpected turn of phrase that it could only have been plagiarized. On the other hand: 224,238,266 views! This is the opposite of obscure.
So, if you were the speechwriter who not only put plagiarized text into Melania Trump’s introduce-yourself-to-America speech, but you took that text from Michelle Obama’s introduce-yourself-to-America speech eight years earlier, you might well want to flag that Melania’s speech rickrolled us and her: Melania’s words, uttered sincerely, turn out to “link” to an annoyingly lightweight pop song.
Just for fun, here’s an autotuned version of Melania singing her lyrics, created by redditor cbuntz:
Headliners: Melania Trump, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke, and veterans activist Jason Beardsley.
Also speaking: Willie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty,” former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, actor Scott Baio, Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, Sen. Tom Cotton, Sen. Jeff Sessions and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, among others. Tuesday: Make America Work Again
Headliners: Donald Trump Jr., West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Dr. Ben Carson and actress-businesswoman Kimberlin Brown.
Also speaking: Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, among others.
Wednesday: Make America First Again
Headliners: Lynne Patton of the Eric Trump Foundation; Eric Trump; Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista; and Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
Also speaking: Radio host Laura Ingraham, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Sen. Ted Cruz, among others.
Thursday: Make America One Again
Headliners: Business leaders Peter Thiel and Tom Barrack, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump.
Also speaking: Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr., among others.
The Intercept reports on several news media who are selling special services at the national political conventions — meetings, cocktail parties, and more. The services are corrosive. Some are explicitly corrupt, “…they make explicit the inevitable failure of the distinction between “paid” and “earned” content.”making explicit the inevitable failure of the distinction between “paid” and “earned” content.
The less controversial services are corrosive because they let the media take money from the people they cover. Having spent a few decades as a marketing communications guy, I can promise you that in every business considering these offers, the conversation includes someone saying, “It doesn’t matter if no one comes to the cocktail party. It’d still improve our relationship with the publication.” Why? Because it’s a way to pay the journal money. That’s corrosive.
Larry Lessig points out that it’s not much different from news organizations tuning their coverage to their ratings. But such tuning at least caters to perceived piopular interest. These new services let an organization or candidate buy coverage despite a decided lack of public interest. It is worse than buying ads because the news media have traditionally had a “Chinese wall” between the advertising and editorial departments. This has been a fairly effective way of protecting editorial content from the direct influence of the marketing needs of the journal, even though the wall is sometimes breached, and Time Magazine has shamefully torn it down.
Once the media started letting companies pay for phony news coverage, they pretended to honor the breach by distinguishing “earned” and “paid” content. “Earned content” is coverage provided by media of events they think are newsworthy. “Paid content” is, well, paid content. Non-sleazebag companies and their PR reps expect media to mark paid content as paid for. Edelman, the world’s largest independent PR company, created ethical guidelines that not only say that the paid content must be well marked, but that Edelman will have its own Chinese wall between the processes by which earned content is pitched (“Yo, I have a client who’s invented a time travel machine. Wanna an interview? How’s yesterday for you?”) and the negotiations that result in the placement of paid content. (Disclosure: I had a tiny hand — Trump-sized — in drafting those guidelines.)
That’s better than nothing, but paid content still makes me queasy. Companies are willing to pay for content precisely because it looks like real coverage and thus tends to be taken more seriously than obvious ads. This erodes the phenomenological line between news and ads, which is bad for democracy and culture. Indeed, “the point of paid content is to erode the line. ”the point of paid content is to erode the line.
But letting candidates pay for interviews takes this to a whole new level. This is what The Intercept says:
Sponsors who pay $200,000 are promised convention interviews with The Hill’s editorial staff for “up to three named executives or organization representatives of your choice,” according to a brochure obtained by The Intercept. “These interviews are pieces of earned media,” the brochure says, “and will be hosted on a dedicated page on thehill.com and promoted across The Hill’s digital and social media channels.”
The Hill says the resulting interviews will be earned media. Suppose the interview is stupid, boring, self-serving and non-newsworthy? If it weren’t, the client wouldn’t be paying for it. But The Hill is promising it’s going to run anyway because the client paid them $200,000. That is the very definition of paid content. So, by calling it “earned content,” The Hill can only mean that the article will not be marked as paid content, even though that is precisely what it is.
This corrupts the already corrosive practice of accepting paid content. It is disgraceful.
It’ll end when the Republicans have this conversation with their daughters:
“You see, precious, that’s really a woman who’s just pretending to be a man because, well, she’s what we call a ‘pervert.’ No, dear, she can’t use the men’s room because we passed a law to make sure that lady perverts have to use the lady’s room. Yes, dear, we also made a law that the male perverts have to use the men’s room dressed as ladies. Yes, dear, the lady perverts who look like men actually are lady homosexuals — why aren’t you precocious! — who lust after little girls, just like we’ve told you, but, well, …you won’t understand it when you grow up either.”
This is a tiny thing. A little gesture. It’s his response to a post about an Iranian boy boy who quietly gives away apricots from a bag he is carrying home.
Er, what I mean to say is: That father ought to lose his parent license! That’s not the art of the deal, that’s the art of the loser! I would have turned that bag of apricots into two luxurious apartment buildings and a golf course for white people!
Yeah, that’s the ticket. No, seriously, that very likely will be the head of the Republican ticket.
There’s an excellent article by Sultan Al Qassemi on what the Gulf States can expect from a Trump presidency. (I found this at Parlio, a site for civil discussion.) I learned a lot. But don’t think there’s much sense in trying to predict what President Trump would do. He is not in it to govern.
I believe (based on no real evidence, of course) that when he closes his eyes at night, he’s not dreaming of all the good he could do in the world as president, but about the press coverage, the world’s leaders fawning as they approach, the salutes as he reviews the troops, his feet up on the Resolute desk in the Oval Office. He’s in it because he sees the presidency as the biggest reality TV show there is.
So, it’s impossible to predict what his policies will be. He doesn’t care. He’ll delegate that job to whomever he’s appointed, and we have no idea who that would be, other than that they will be sycophants up and bullies down.