Trump, Hamilton and the Tabloid Wars

Politics is starting to seem like time travel to me: some days, 1930s; other times, 1960s. But today, it's back to the New York tabloid wars of the 1980s and the transformation of celebrity gossip into front-page news. Donald Trump was very good back then at the publicity battles fought out in the dueling tabloids  and the local TV stations that used the morning tabs as a sort of assigning editor for the evening news. His divorces honed his skills. 

Now, as news media finally warm  up to the immense story of  the president-elect's potential conflicts of interest, Trump is busily focusing attention elsewhere with his cultural criticism: Twitter blasts at the cast of Hamilton and at Saturday Night Live. He'll play that out as long as he can.

Trump knows well the power of celebrity news: He will keep dishing it, and now will have the resources of the United States government to do it. Watch to see how this combination of the power of celebrity and the power of the presidency plays out.

Paul Moses, a contributing writer at Commonweal, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi’s Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York’s Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @PaulBMoses. 

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