Amazingly, Donald Trump has retained his front-runner perch for weeks, without having aired any traditional TV ads. Having mastered the art of attracting “free” media, he has shown little need for paid media.
Yet Trump is active on social media, which can help drive “free” media coverage. Political reporters are glued to his blustery Twitter feed, but for the most part they have not paid as close attention to the video he posts to his Instagram account. That may be changing.
But Trump’s most recent Instagram video, juxtaposing terrorist scenes with happy-go-lucky shots of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, caught the eye of the New York Times.
A video posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on
We see CNN video of the ISIS leader known as “Jihadi John” waving a knife used to behead a hostage, then a photo of a smiling Obama in a golf cart. We see CNN video of Benghazi in flames, then Hillary and Bill dancing in Times Square.
“POLITICIANS ARE HAVING FUN ON OUR DIME WHILE THE WORLD IS BURNING” blares the screen, before closing with the Trump slogan: “Make American Great Again.” Trump added a comment under the video: “Not under my watch.”
As the Times report notes, the use of terrorist images in political ads has been controversial, yet President George W. Bush did it in 2004 and still won re-election. More recently, we noted Tom Cotton used ISIS propaganda footage in his Senate bid, which also ended up successful.
Of all the risks Trump has taken in his improbable question, perhaps the use graphic terrorist imagery is not the greatest one.