Stormy Daniels is good for ratings but won’t change any minds on Trump

Stormy Daniels is good for ratings but won’t change any minds on Trump

If you needed any more evidence that we live in completely polarized country at the moment, simply look to the two polar-opposite reactions to the Sunday night Stormy Daniels interview on "60 Minutes" as exhibits A-through-Z. 

On one side is the usual performance art we've become so accustomed to in the Trump era, where reporters and pundits morph into D-list method actors in expressing outrage over a president who has conducted himself as an anti-Boy Scout throughout his 40 years in the public eye. 

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How anyone is shocked by anything this president does or has done is a tough sell at this point. But no matter, if it's negative for the president, tawdry or otherwise, it gets eaten up by commentators like seagulls at the beach. 

 

On the other side are Trump supporters who universally have rejected the Stormy story from the beginning, if social media is any indication. The paraphrased argument goes like this: The affair was consensual. It happened 12 years ago. We didn't vote for a choir boy but a street-fighting businessman from Queens. This has nothing to do with his ability to govern and get things done now.

In other words, many of the same arguments are being made now that were made when Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonNew poll finds Biden narrowly leading Trump in Georgia Changing the climate of presidential debates Davis: My advice to Joe Biden on eve of the debate — be Joe Biden MORE was dealing with Ken Starr and Monica Lewinsky 20 years ago. 

Having grown up and lived in the New York area for most of my life, there are two hard and fast reading rules every morning in the form of picking up the New York Post and Daily News with the morning coffee. And throughout the '80s and '90s and '00s, one could count on the thrice-married Trump making the gossip pages of each paper on a regular basis. 

"Best sex I've ever had" screamed one New York Post headline years ago in quoting Trump's second wife, Marla Maples. The headline was so infamous it was recently recycled when news broke of Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonGary Cohn: 'I haven't made up my mind' on vote for president in November Kushner says 'Alice in Wonderland' describes Trump presidency: Woodward book Conspicuous by their absence from the Republican Convention MORE's firing at State. 

Have you ever heard the term about certain news already "being baked into the stock market?" That's Trump in 2018 when it comes to the kinds of allegations coming from Stormy Daniels. 

The affair is already baked in to his stock, and his supporters long ago accepted the way he conducts himself personally. Even his support among evangelicals — which came in to the tune of 81 percent in the 2016 election — hasn't wavered because almost of them all put more weight into his actions as POTUS than his decisions in his personal life, in the past or in the present.   

Trump supporters also point to presidents of the past, dating back to Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Bush 41 and, of course, Clinton in terms of alleged and real affairs, depending on who we're talking about. Nothing new here, they argue, but Trump is getting hit especially hard. 

Overall, the Daniels interview was good for business at CBS: highest-rated for an already highly-rated program in 10 years. For context, the 23 million or so who watched Stormy and Anderson Cooper on Sunday night was about 7 million more than those 16.4 million who watched President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence sit down for an interview on the same program just six days after their stunning victory. 

So the numbers were good, but was any news broken when getting past the stuff about spankings and condoms? 

The biggest takeaway appears to be an alleged — and impossible to prove or disprove — threat against Daniels to stay quiet about the affair in 2011, when an unidentified man approached her in a Las Vegas parking lot, she said, after she agreed to tell her version of the alleged affair to a magazine.

“Leave Trump alone. Forget the story," a man allegedly told her. Daniels also claims the man looked at her young daughter and said, “It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.”

Sounds like its right out of a movie, right? And, depending on how you voted, will almost certainly dictate if you believe this occurred or not. 

Another takeaway involved a $130,000 payment by Trump attorney Michael Cohen to Daniels and if that broke campaign-finance law. Again, this isn't going to change one mind in terms of support, since the details are fuzzy and the accusations of Russian collusion are already on the table. 

And then there's the fact that Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, was a Democratic operative and was pressed on that fact by Cooper during the interview. 
"Some people looking at that will say you’re politically motivated," Cooper said to the former operative for Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. "You’re a former Democratic operative?”

“I haven’t done anything in politics in over 20 years," Avenatti replied, adding later when asked if his representation of Daniels sounded political: “No, it sounds righteous ... My client is credible, she’s telling the truth.” 

In the end, unless a disc that Avenatti chose not to reveal the contents of, despite having a huge platform to do so, has some kind of smoking gun around the alleged threats or who-knows-what-else, this story goes away in a few weeks due to Stormy fatigue alone. 

Presidential sex scandals and those involving politicians in general always rate well.  

Stormy Daniels was no exception. 

"60 Minutes" got its ratings. 

But Trump's approval and disapproval won't change one iota ... because the price is already baked into the Trump stock, in the eyes of advocates and detractors.  

Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) is a media reporter for The Hill.