Tuesday, August 18, 2015 at 8:28 AM

The "President Reagan" Show v2.0

In this clip, Brian Stelter. who has a weekly show on CNN about the news industry, warns reporters not to pay too much attention to the polls in the Presidential "horse race." He's doing this the way a blogger would. Makes me really respect him. Pop out of the bubble says Stelter and look at past experience as a guide to how real any of this is.

There's always a sports analogy

I'm a Mets fan, all the way back to the beginning, but I wasn't paying attention this year, too focused on other things, but then there was this story about Wilmer Flores, a Mets infielder. He thought he was being traded. He was signed by the Mets when he was 16, so I guess he grew up on the team. He was crying. On the field, on camera. The next day he hit a walk-off home run. The whole team came out to greet him at home plate. It was a very emotional moment. And that was the beginning of a huge turnaround for the Mets. They're in first place now. (But being a true Mets fan I'm fairly sure it won't last.)

We Facebook-like Trump

Same with politics. Human emotions go in waves. We "like" Trump now because his story is interesting. We want to see how it comes out. But as Stelter points out, don't mistake Trump's rise as necessarily significant for the election that's still 447 days away.

I put "like" in quotes above because the way we're interested in Trump is the way we click "like" in Facebook. Sometimes you click something you don't like. Just to bump it up and tell the algorithm you want to hear more about this. TV has similar signals. They themselves are interested to hear what Trump will say next, so they figure we are too (we are). They probably run focus groups to stay close to where audience interest is.

Emotions flow in waves

The last two Presidential campaigns in the US were after the advent of social media, so human waves happened then more like they happen on the net, which is different from how it worked on 20th century TV. It's more wave-oriented, shorter attention-span. But a good long-running meme like Trump obeys new and different rules. The story probably won't flow like Giuliani in 2008, or Bachmann et al in 2012, because Trump has been laying the groundwork longer, he's more interesting, and knows how to keep the interest going. And the net keeps evolving. It changed a lot between 2008 and 2012, and it's evolved from that today.

But Stelter's point is still interesting, and optimistic. It would be good if we could avoid "President Trump." But I was around in 1980 and had much the same feeling about the concept of "President Reagan" and uhh, well, let's hope we've learned.

The President Reagan Show starring President Reagan

Today Reagan is offered as the Republican paragon of American leadership, but he was actually a fair actor who played the role of President in a TV show. He had nice hair. If only they could find an actor like Reagan. But most people my age, before he was elected, thought Reagan would be a disaster. We thought he was as electable as Trump is today (i.e. not). Even more support for Stelter's thesis, not to be too swayed by what's happening in any moment, but also not to look to the past as a guide to the future, too much.

Program notes

Note to CNN: Why not allow video embedding as YouTube does. I bet you'd get more circulation. Remember, blogging is on its way back. Time to hone your content to take best advantage of that.

Another note: Every product should have an easy-to-find page with logos and product shots designed for including in blog posts. They should have transparent backgrounds, be approx 145 pixels wide, and roughly square. A variety of sizes actually would be useful. For candidates and media personalities, nice web-friendly head shots. I asked for this years ago, it hasn't yet materialized. I also asked that advertisers provide their commercials online so we can point to them, and while that isn't systematic yet, you pretty much can find what you're looking for.

Last built: Wed, Sep 9, 2015 at 1:31 PM

By Dave Winer, Tuesday, August 18, 2015 at 8:28 AM. When in doubt, blog.