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Back to Reality

August 10, 2015

By: Stephen Waguespack

It is hard to flip the channels these days and not come across one reality show after another. With low production costs, unlimited viewer interest in anything called “reality” despite how orchestrated it may be, and a nation full of people in desperate need for their 15 minutes of fame, reality TV has slowly but surely taken over the airwaves.

And it is about to get even bigger.

No longer is the fascinating world of reality TV limited to the usual network and cable stations. Enter the race for president of the United States and the next phase of this broadcast evolution is officially in full swing. Every news channel on the air is now officially in the reality show business, which is good for ratings, but probably not for voters.

Let’s take a look at the main characters.

Donald Trump is currently leading all the polls of the Republican candidates for president. That’s right, that Donald Trump. Perhaps his message of rudely and loudly criticizing others for disagreeing with anything he says, no matter how offensive or juvenile, is resonating with a certain population or, more likely, he currently leads the pack simply because any national poll that tests so many similar candidates this early in a race is nothing more than a name ID poll. Name ID is one thing Trump has mastered better than anyone else, thanks in large part to reality TV. Whether a true candidate for the long haul or a flash in the pan that will soon be voted off the island, it is astonishing that he is credibly convincing some to hire him as president only a few years removed from milking every dollar of profit from the phrase “You’re fired” on “The Apprentice.”

Speaking of astonishing, the Democrats have their own reality show going on right now and you would be hard pressed to make characters like this up. 

Hillary Clinton, the wife of a former impeached (but not convicted) president and herself a former secretary of state to the current unpopular president, is accused of using her personal email address and personal email server to conduct official business while negotiating with foreign countries. 

Despite the obvious security concerns with U.S. intelligence, Clinton’s refusal to hand over her personal email servers for review in a timely manner, (someone call Janet Reno and ask her to pull an Elian Gonzalez and go get those servers herself) and the fact that this drama is playing out while Congress debates approval of a nuclear treaty with a significant terrorist-harboring nation, the media aren't showing much interest in reporting on this story. Clinton’s character in this reality show has taken the low-profile approach of simply ignoring troublesome questions and it is working like a charm. Why would the networks waste airtime on her and her pesky national security concerns (so boring!) when Trump is wearing a silly hat somewhere and about to release a new sound bite and finger point after this commercial break (breaking news alert!)?

Speaking of a big break, it appears Clinton finally has some Democratic opposition in the race for the White House and it comes in the form of Bernie Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont. Who? That’s right, the same Bernie Sanders who has spent his career in Washington as the most liberal voice in Congress. Sanders, himself a self-avowed socialist, is running to Clinton’s extreme left and attacking her for being too moderate. He is the Howard Dean of the 2016 presidential race, so enjoy his “credible-candidate” status now while it lasts as his character will soon be written off the show in a blaze (or scream) of glory.

But have no fear, because once his 15 minutes starts to wind down the producers have a real treat for us viewers…rumored to be strongly considering entering the race is Vice President Joe Biden. If this happens, the reality show ratings will hit new heights. Without a doubt, Biden’s character would hit the ground running as a candidate as long as he could keep his feet out of his mouth. Clinton must be doing cartwheels while wearing those sunglasses in her underground lair somewhere at the plot this show is taking on. Her character’s survival is safer than Willie Robertson in a duck blind. 

Trump running the GOP in circles on the way to the ditch, Sanders running to Clinton’s hard left making her look moderate, big media currently ignoring her current and historical scandals, and Biden possibly jumping in to take up all the Saturday Night Live skits over the next several months all add up to a huge break for the former first lady with the big money advantage. She couldn’t have scripted out this show any better.

Reality shows rarely reflect reality. In this instance, the very real consequences for America that accompany the important presidential election next year are being ignored for the car-wreck culture of entertainment that makes ratings soar. This all appears to be just another example of a popular reality show that doesn’t reflect reality at all.

It all may make for interesting TV, but a dangerous and scary election cycle for America. I wonder if Jon Stewart is going to pull a Brett Favre and come back out of retirement for this next election cycle to cover it all. Now that would make a good reality show…