From the Mayflower to Trump

[Ed. Note: This was originally posted in 2016.]

Last week, New York magazine ran a piece titled, Bobby Jindal: President Obama Caused Trump by Being Too Intellectual and Mature. (Jindal’s original commentary appeared in the Wall Street Journal.)

Jindal came late to last year’s bandwagon of articles about that same idea: 7 Ways Barack Obama Created Donald Trump; O’Reilly: one-two punch from obama and the media is why Trump is surging; Obama Has Fueled Rise of Trump; Republicans are now blaming Barack Obama for Donald Trump. Seriously.

But the wise-and-dedicated, life-in-public-service Barack Obama is no father of #Frankentrump, the say-anything Republican front-runner for president.

Donald Trump came to prominence as a star in Reality-Television, the TV equivalent of talk show radio. So it would seem that Trump is actually the descendant of a noted Reality-Radio Star. 

Read on for some broadcasting history…

Among the millions of boomer babies born in 1949, the Federal Communications Commission created The Fairness Doctrine. It’s purpose was to ensure fair representations of opposing views on broadcast media. (The prior year had seen the repeal of The Mayflower Doctrine which forbid editorializing on the radio.)

Under the Fairness Doctrine, in a notable case in 1969, TV station WLBT in Jackson, Mississippi had its license revoked for “attempting to squelch the voices of the civil rights movement of the time.”

Dr. Everett Parker, along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Andy Young and others developed a way to monitor television stations that refused Black involvement. Their work led the charges against WLBT.

Warren Burger, a conservative, and a future Supreme Court Justice, ruled in favor of lawsuits by Parker, and the station’s license was revoked. 

Later, Broadcasting Magazine would hail Parker as “the founder of the citizen movement in broadcasting.”

In 1984, during the Reagan administration, The Fairness Doctrine was abolished. Stations could then broadcast editorial commentary without having to present opposing views.

That same year, Rush Limbaugh (born and raised in conservative Missouri) began his now-famous radio talk show in Sacramento, California, where he presents his opposing views in an outrageous and over-the-top manner that has become wildly popular on the political Right.

Limbaugh’s increasingly ugly harangues on liberals, feminists, and pet issues most often feature ridicule and meanness. He has actively wished for President Obama to fail. His views have been repeatedly drilled into listener’s minds for over 40 years.

So, no, we can’t blame President Obama for Donald Trump. TV’s Trump is a product of Radio’s Limbaugh and other right-wing commentators. Who knows what will happen next.

We wish Dr. Parker were here to get a citizen’s movement going.

[Originally posted here on March 8, 2016]

For a compelling history of the 2008 campaign, as told by news media, politicians, and ordinary people, see King's Dream: Barack Obama Becomes President of the United States of America.