Businessmen are rarely celebrities. As Donald Trump’s political position has risen from joke to presumptive GOP nominee, many have speculated about the real estate mogul’s free media advantage in the years leading up to his presidential bid.
A new study released this Tuesday by the Media Research Center claims that “NBC had a financial incentive to further Trump’s image as a successful businessman, and it did just that.”
The study accuses NBC of building Trump’s image and brand to disproportionate heights, noting that NBC ran more than 300 stories about the billionaire between 2004 and 2015.
The majority of those programs focused on Trump’s business record, deal-making acumen, and foray into television as TV producer and NBC star. Only 15 of those episodes cast anything like a negative light on what many consider “controversial business dealings.”
Meanwhile, the network was suspiciously silent about its business partnership with the billionaire. “NBC’s relationship with Trump was mutually beneficial, and fraught with ethical problems,” writes MRC research analyst Sam Dorman.
Before the 2012 election, numerous NBC anchors portrayed Trump as a political “power broker.” The network nominated him for the “chutzpah award” after he pressured President Barack Obama to release his long-form birth certificate. In 2004, “Access Hollywood” anchor Billy Bush heralded Trump as “the next President of the United States” and urged viewers to write his name on the ballot.
NBC parted ways Donald Trump last summer, but all the exposure the network gave him provided the billionaire with something far more valuable than TV ads or a super PAC agreement: name recognition. That’s how he has managed to win primary after primary with a small campaign budget and less money spent on ads than even John Kasich.
Donald Trump also has the advantage of earned media: commentary and news in magazines, in newspapers, and on social media. “The big difference between Mr. Trump and any other candidate is that he is far better than any other candidate – maybe than any candidate ever – at earning media,” writes Nicholas Confessore in the New York Times.
Editors Note: Branding is currency. it has value. Trump has been building his media brand for most of his adult life. His partnership with NBC was brilliant in terms of making money on the Trump brand and ultimately in name and reputation recognition all over America.
Hillary has been attempting to do the same, ever since she was First Lady. While she has succeeded in building name recognition, she falls well short in time spent with her brand. Trump is just way more entertaining. And that’s important!