John Armstrong is dead. Long live John Armstrong*

As he was past his use-by date to actually be paid money by the Herald, he’s now set up his own blog, and here’s a bit of his first post.

Don’t worry. Don’t fret. Donald Trump will never become President of the United States. In time, American voters will “come to their senses” and bring Trump’s crude crusade for the keys to the White House to an abrupt halt.
So spoke one such voter questioned in a report screened by Al Jazeera which purported to analyse the reasons driving Trump’s unexpected rise and rise which has made him the front-runner in the race for the Republican party’s nomination for the presidency.
What was puzzling was why the journalist who produced the piece for the Doha-based television news channel gave so much air time to the views of a 62-year-old former lawyer and unflinching supporter of the Democrats – someone who would have been about as ideologically distanced from Trumpland as it is possible to get.
It is not that difficult to explain why so many Americans have fallen under the spell of Trump’s brand of populism. There is nothing new or particularly unique in the business mogul’s strategy. Anyone who was living in New Zealand in the mid-1990s will have noted a marked similarity between Trump’s campaign themes and those stressed by one Winston Peters.

And both Peters’ and Trump’s stars are rising. 

National Party MPs have jumped on the comparison, with Maggie Barry describing Peters as Trump “without the comb-over”.
But the differences between Trump and Peters go way beyond the latter having a better haircut and a better taste in suits.
Peters used coded language in his rabble-rousing speeches, avoiding mentioning the word “Asians” when everyone knew to whom he was referring.
Trump cannot be bothered with such “dog-whistle” politics. His trademark is outrage. He is winning votes by saying what Middle America is thinking but feel it cannot say.
If anything, American voters are even more fed up with the goings on in Washington than were many New Zealanders with Wellington two decades ago. Trump is surfing a wave of discontent and disillusion born of the slow recovery of the American economy, alongside the disappointing presidency of Barak Obama which has fallen far short of initial expectations.

You can read all of it here.

What Armstrong omits, either through being blinkered or being unaware, is the huge role the media is playing in the dissatisfaction that is building with the voters.  As media have taken sides and are promoting one candidate over others, this also has split their audience.  To get more attention, the race is on for more outrage.

But with Trump, the media have been able to unite against him.  Trump on the other hand is using outrage to get the media to report on what he says.

And so, we’re back to Peters.

Both of whom can reasonably expect a good outcome for their political careers in the run up, during and after the respective elections.


– John Armstrong


* Calm down, he’s alive.  It’s a metaphor about his career.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.