Being Right: On President Trump and Stormy Daniels

President Trump has a long history of being a disgusting pig when it comes to women. Everyone knows this and has known this for years. He has said and done too many ridiculous and immoral things to count. However, Trump has astoundingly turned his outrageousness into his brand, and people either love him or hate him for it.

The media is among those who hate him for it. So when porn star Stormy Daniels stepped forward recently with a story that promised another Clinton-Lewinsky scandal but for the Trump Presidency, news networks could not help but jump on the opportunity.

On March 25, the long awaited “60 Minutes” interview of Daniels aired on CBS with largely underwhelming results. In the interview, hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Daniels “broke her silence” on her interactions with Trump, claiming that she had consensual sex with him in 2006 in an effort to advance in her career and was threatened by a man in a parking lot after she sold the story to InTouch magazine in 2011, and was paid $130,000 in 2016 to sign a non-disclosure agreement to keep the information private. 

Given that most of Daniels’ claims are unverified at the moment, the media’s reaction to the information has been mostly speculative of the legal consequences of such a story being true. Other media outlets have framed this story as part of the #MeToo movement due to the alleged threat Daniels received and the fear she had in releasing the information to the public. 

This victim portrayal of Daniels has several issues, including the fact that she had full control over her sexual and legal decision making throughout her story and could have chosen to avoid participation in either. The only point in her story where she may have become a victim is when she claims that she was threatened by someone who told her to “leave Trump alone,” which is an unsettling and concerning assertion. Some have shown skepticism towards this part of her story, however, since she never went to the police to report the incident. Taking everything into consideration, the biggest fear Daniels should have now is her potential breach of the non-disclosure agreement, which could cost her millions.

With all the partisan speculation that has taken place so far, one fact remains clear: the media’s desperate attempt to turn the alleged affair into another Clinton-Lewinsky scandal has failed almost entirely. Trump potentially having an affair with a porn star over ten years ago is not the same as President Clinton lying to Congress under oath about having an affair with an intern during his presidency, although both acts are repugnant nevertheless.

Not only do the acts themselves differ in their severity, but so do the reputations of the two presidents. As Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld said last week, “Finding out that Trump might have slept with a porn star is as shocking as Mike Pence not sleeping with one.” The public is fully aware by now that Trump has a history of licentious and vile behavior from his billionaire lifestyle. If this is your first time hearing about some of it, I congratulate you on your ability to avoid every mainstream news source since Trump’s campaign announcement.

The Daniels scandal simply does not have the same potential to ruin public perception of Trump as it did Clinton. Despite all of Trump’s sickening sound bites and erratic behavior, he was still able to win the presidency and 80 percent of the white evangelical vote in the election. Even since the interview, Trump’s approval rating has been on the rise, with an April 2 Rasmussen poll estimating it to be 50 percent, a value that surpasses President Obama at the same point in his presidency.

If this scandal will have any major consequences whatsoever, it will be on the legal rather than reputational front. Several lawyers have speculated that the non-disclosure agreement might have the potential to be a campaign finance violation. However, even that is questionable given that such a violation requires a substantial amount of evidence to prove in court.

The airing of the Daniels’ interview was quickly followed by the death of the media’s dream to finally ruin Trump. The media’s efforts have proven time and time again that almost nothing can change the public’s view of the President. Trump is Trump. He is a peculiar but fascinating public figure that has a well known history of being a sexually promiscuous billionaire. An allegation from a porn star about having sex with him over ten years ago adds almost nothing to his character that we did not already know.

Contact Connor Madalo at [email protected].