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Trump Times Two

What in the world are we witnessing?

Michael Avenatti, lawyer of adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, exits from Federal Court in New York, April 16, 2018. (Photo: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

"Tradition approves all form of competition."
— Arthur Clough, The Latest Dialog

Although it wasn’t really a competition, a comparison of the numbers was nonetheless enlightening, and James Comey came in a disappointing second. Of course, Mr. Comey is trying to make up for it by having interviews on every possible outlet except Fox News.

The foregoing came to mind when considering that within three weeks of each other, Mr. Comey and Stormy Daniels had interviews on major television networks that, in advance, were touted as being among the most exciting interviews scheduled during March and April of 2018. It was, naturally, assumed that the interview with Mr. Comey on ABC’s 20-20, would be the most watched of the two interviews, since it would be the most substantive. That is because of the respective roles played by Mr. Comey and Ms. Daniels in Mr. Trump’s life.

Mr. Comey is the former director of the FBI, and it was anticipated that during his interview, he would offer some candid observations about Mr. Trump that he acquired during the time he was the director of that agency. Those discussions by Mr. Comey would, it was assumed, give the public an insight into how Mr. Trump governs, and whether or not he tried to obstruct justice in his interactions with Mr. Comey. Many reviewers, including this one, assumed Mr. Comey’s recounting of his time serving under Mr. Trump, would be of far greater interest to an American public concerned about how it is being governed, than an interview with Ms. Daniels, with whom Mr. Trump had only a one-night stand. To everyone’s great surprise, however, the interview with Ms. Daniels, in which she described her encounter with Mr. Trump in a bedroom in a fancy hotel, attracted a much greater audience than the interview with Mr. Comey, who described encounters with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office in the White House.

Ms. Daniels’ interview was conducted on CBS’s 60 Minutes on March 25, 2018. The interview attracted 22 million viewers, a number of viewers that exceeded the number of people who watched the 2018 Grammys (19.8 million) and the Golden Globes (19 million). Mr. Comey’s interview had fewer than half the number of viewers that Ms. Daniels enjoyed. A paltry 9.8 million viewers bothered to take the time out of a busy evening to watch Mr. Comey.

Ms. Daniels said nothing in her interview to demean Mr. Trump. She did nothing to cast doubt on Mr. Trump’s sexual skills. She was, as she always seems to be, quite reserved and matter of fact in describing her encounter. Nothing she said about Mr. Trump’s bedside or in-bed manner would have provided reason for Mr. Trump to take offense. And, as if to return the favor, Mr. Trump has never spoken unkindly of Ms. Daniels. He has never suggested that Ms. Daniels afforded him the least pleasure of any of the many women whom he has favored with his sexual prowess. And as if the foregoing were not enough to explain why Mr. Trump had nothing unfriendly to say about her interview, another aspect of the interview almost certainly gave him great pleasure, perhaps as much as Ms. Daniels had given him in their one sexual encounter.

Mr. Trump, likes to brag about the high numbers of admirers that he appears to see during various events he puts on. He almost certainly attributed the large number of viewers Ms. Daniels attracted to her 60 Minutes interview, to the fact that he was the subject she was addressing. His unseen presence, he almost certainly believes, is what made it interesting. He would have been doubly pleased with the fact that her interview about HIM attracted more viewers than any other program put on by CBS’s 60 Minutes since an interview in 2008 where the subjects were the much disliked, by him, Barrack Obama, who had just been elected president, and his wife, Michelle. And, as if that weren’t reason enough for Mr. Trump to be pleased by Ms. Daniel’s interview, he must also have been pleased by the paltry number of people viewing Mr. Comey’s interview, believing the small number to be more than adequate proof that people do not believe the obviously slanted views of a man he has called a “slime ball,” and described as the worst FBI director in history.

Knowledge of all of the foregoing was certainly more than enough to brighten Mr. Trump’s day. It does not have the same effect on the rest of the country. That is because it says something about the intellectual and moral climate in the United States, that an interview with a non-wife describing her one-night sexual encounter with the president of the United States, is of more interest to the American public, than the views of a former director of the FBI discussing possible felonious activities of that same man. In Trump times, of course, that does not come as a surprise. That is the climate in the United States that Mr. Trump has created.

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Christopher Brauchli

Christopher Brauchli

Christopher Brauchli is a columnist and lawyer known nationally for his work. He is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Colorado School of Law where he served on the Board of Editors of the Rocky Mountain Law Review. He can be emailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu. For political commentary see his web page at http://humanraceandothersports.com

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