Why does Henry Blodget love Donald Trump?
Business Insider's Henry Blodget has made a fortune from knowing how to troll for pageviews.
There is, however, a line where trolling crosses over into promoting hate speech, a line Blodget previously skirted with headlines like “Why do people hate Jews?”
With the Jews headline, Blodget eventually pulled back from the brink, re-titling his post "What are some of the sources of anti-semitism?" and apologizing for being "cavalier" with "one of the most serious topics in human history."
Quite so. Lesson learned.
So what, then, are we to make of Blodget's gushing coverage of Donald Trump’s racist, abusive and outright fascist presidential campaign?
You don’t need me to remind you of Trump’s recent crimes against human decency: His racist remarks against Mexicans and other immigrants, his grotesque public attacks on disabled reporter Serge Kovaleski, his sexist comments about women, his continuing lies about 9/11 "celebrations" in New Jersey, his proposal to monitor mosques and to require Muslim Americans to carry special registration documents.
And yet as Trump’s rhetoric has become more vile, Blodget and Business Insider have firmly positioned themselves as the candidate’s media mouthpiece.
Here are the most recent stories on Blodget’s own article page on Business Insider. This isn't edited -- it's a list of every story Blodget has filed to Business Insider over the past two weeks...
And Blodget’s employees have clearly taken the hint. A search for “Donald Trump” on BI reveals the following articles and decks. (These are all from the first page of results.)
Donald Trump went on an epic tirade against Ben Carson at a campaign event in Iowa.
...and then, just in case you didn’t get the message…
And if all that still weren’t enough, here’s Business Insider’s puff piece about Trump’s new book.
"Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again," released Tuesday, chronicled all of Trump's campaign-trail grievances while attacking the media, touting the Trump brand, presenting his ideological views, and defending his record from critics.
And it was relentlessly on message: Trump is a winner, and America would win big if he became president.
But just because there’s a ton of coverage favourable to Trump on Business Insider doesn’t mean Blodget is a Trump fan, or that he's using Business Insider to endorse Trump as a candidate. He might just be a tremendously shitty journalist, willing to give a platform for just about anyone who might bring in a few thousand more pageviews.
Given how disgusting Trump’s rhetoric has become, and given how dangerous his policies would be if they ever became law, you have to be very sure of your facts before accusing someone of actively supporting him.
So let's keep going.
Earlier this month, as Trump disgusted us all with his remarks about American Muslims, Blodget decided to go on the road with the candidate for a video series entitled "Trump Nation: On the trail with the GOP front-runner." The series promises to answer “the 3 questions everyone has about Donald Trump“
A quick straw poll: What do you think the three questions “everyone” has about Trump might be? Something about racism, about disability, about refugees or 9/11 or Obama’s birth certificate?
Nope! According to Business Insider, the three most frequently asked questions about Donald Trump are: “Why is Trump clobbering the rest of the GOP field? What would a President Trump actually do? Can Trump really win?”
And, sure enough, Blodget's "special report" video from the road plays like a promotional ad for the campaign.
In the video, Trump supporters can be seen expressing support for his promising to “take America back” and to build a wall to keep out immigrants. Missing is any footage of, say, Trump supporters beating a Black Lives Matter campaigner, or brutally assaulting a homeless man, or of Trump disgustingly justifying either of those assaults. The few protesters who do appear in the videos are quickly rebutted by pro-Trump campaigners or by statistics that show how much Trump is leading in the polls. Following a brief montage of Trump's racist, sexist and just plane idiotic comments, Blodget acknowledges that they "would doom most candidates..."
But: "They only seem to reinforce the idea that Trump is the only candidate who says what he really thinks."
And then Blodget himself appears, clutching his copy of Trump's book and fairly jumping with excitement at attending "my first political rally." An excitement he shares with his fellow Trump attendees: "I’m excited… Everywhere we went in town today, folks know Mr Trump is speaking tonight… people are excited."
After all that, Blodget finally earns his reward: A sit down with Trump himself to get answers to his questions, straight from the horse's ass:
“You have an incredible work ethic, which is clearly part of your success.” Blodget asks Trump -- the first of an entire video filled with softballs.
Softballs like this:
“Another thing people love about you is that you're tough, and you make a persuasive argument on the trail that our leaders are weak, they're not being tough enough...”
“But you talk about, one of the things you've done so well in your business career, is you find the best people, you give them the mission, and they do it and you watch over them. So in this case, you say to generals, ‘ISIS is a problem, give me a plan?’”
“Another thing people love about you is the can-do message. In this case, Congress doesn't work for you, you can't fire them. So how do you get things done?”
And -- oh boy -- this:
“The deportation plan where you want to round up 11 million people and send them to somewhere else seems very impractical.
By this point you'd have to work pretty hard to convince yourself that Blodget's interest in Trump is purely professional as opposed to hero worship. A real test, I guess, would be whether Blodget is just as enthusiastic about Trump away from the pages of Business Insider, when there are no pageviews at stake.
During a campaign stop in Springfield, a reporter for the “Illinois Channel” spoke to Blodget about his interest in Trump. Here's what Blodget told him…
“I’ve followed his career… I read his books when I was younger… He’s very impressive… His book [Crippled America] is actually smarter than a lot of people say it is… the fact that he galvanized so many people is incredible to watch. I read [the Art of the Deal] when I was figuring out what I was going to do with my life.”
“It’s surprising… we’re getting more details on what he says he’s going to do. I think one of the things that appeals to people about him is that he’s going against the plank on several key issues. It seems like he is thinking for himself, which everybody seems to like. I think people like that… we’ve had this gridlock in the united states for so long… and he’s a can-do guy, they like that. His tax plan sounds like the usual republican plan… so we’ll need more details there. But overall there are a lot of interesting ideas."
Yeah. Not only does Blodget promote “impressive,” “interesting” Donald Trump today -- and not only is he willing to amplify Trump and his ideas to Business Insider’s tens of millions of readers -- but Blodget even credits Trump’s business wisdom for helping kickstart his career. (A career that, lest we forget, almost ended when Blodget was charged with civil securities fraud and forced to pay a $2m fine.)
Perhaps Business Insider’s new German owners could take Blodget aside and point out a few of the risks inherent in endorsing policies and speech like Trump’s. In the meantime, here’s an extract from Blodget’s Pando Monthly interview in which he explains why his post about “why people hate the Jews” was “a colossal mistake… one of the biggest I have made as a writer.”
Top two, certainly.