What Lionel Murphy Would Say About Donald Trump

by Norman Horowitz

It was sometime in the very early ’70s that I met and became friendly with Lionel Keith Murphy. He was an Australian politician and jurist who served as a Senator, and then as the Attorney-General in the government of Gough Whitlam and as a Justice of the High Court of Australia from 1975 until his death in 1986.

Lionel was one of the brightest and most charming men I’ve ever met. He had a ready smile and a twinkle in his eye. He was my kind of guy for a variety of reasons, but most important was how he adored women and had the ability to make the least attractive of them feel like Miss Australia when he spoke to them.

In ’73 or ’74, my office in Sydney sent me clippings of Lionel’s remarks in the Australian Senate decrying the pernicious effects on Australian culture by the telecast of American content. Boy, did he ever attack American television!  

Several weeks later, I was in Sydney and having dinner with Lionel and his wife Ingrid. I raised the issue of what Lionel had said about American television content. Lionel gave me the best political lesson of my life in his reply:

Norman, were I to stand up on the floor of the Senate and decry Australian Aboriginal history, no one in the Senate would have listened, and no one in the press would have reported it. By attacking television, everyone listened, and the press loved every word that I spoke. The press will not report on issues such as education, racism, hunger, and such, but they love it when someone attacks television and will cover it extensively.

That brings me to Donald Trump.

This man has established himself as a political powerhouse by attacking the Obama birth certificate “non-issue”. As a result, television has embraced him, even though he has little else to say about anything.

Trump has recently suggested that we tell OPEC to cut oil prices. He said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that lowering the price of gas is as easy as telling OPEC’s members to do so. Wow, what a great and novel idea!

Candy Crowley of CNN argued that the United States can’t control OPEC. Trump disagreed, saying:

Candy, it’s the messenger, You know, I can send two executives into a room. They can say the same thing. One guy comes home with the bacon and the other one doesn’t. And I’ve seen it a thousand times. It’s the messenger. We don’t have the right messenger. Obama is not the right messenger. We are not a respected nation anymore. The world is laughing at us.

Let me tell you, it’ll go down if you say it properly.

He is free to make whatever accusations he chooses to. However: The media could choose either not to cover him when he does so or contradict him when he makes unfounded accusations.

Sadly, I expect that he knows that the outrageous positions he takes makes no sense, and he makes them anyway. Trump realizes that the solution to obtaining television and print notoriety is to be outrageous. He also realizes that he can become a known national commodity by being on television just like Budweiser beer…and it is all free for him!

I submit that it’s improper to use the name Donald Trump and the word “journalism” in the same paragraph.