Thursday 10 March 2016

TRS was our Donald Trump

So Donald Trump wins another primary.

He is leading the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

This despite him saying racist and xenophobic things like:


Or more likely, because of it.

US officials said that diplomats from Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia have expressed alarm about the xenophobic nature of Trump's statements, reported Reuters.

But what's more alarming than the xenophobic nature of Trump's statements is that many Americans seem to support those statements by voting for him.

Is it possible that Trump isn't really as xenophobic as he appears and is saying all that stuff just to win votes?

He has even been accused to making stuff up to monger the hate.

Don't blame Donald Trump for Donald Trump. Blame the people voting for him.

Could something like Donald Trump happen here in Singapore?

In a way, it already has.

The Real Singapore was our Donald Trump.

Like Trump, TRS tapped into the xenophobia of the populace and benefitted from it.

On Tuesday, former TRS editor Ai Takagi pleaded guilty to publishing inflammatory articles on the website (now defunct) and its Facebook page.

The prosecution said TRS editors "brazenly played up racism and xenophobia" on the site. "They even resorted to outright and blatant fabrication in order to attract Internet users to their website - all with the objective of increasing their advertising revenue."

One example of such fabrication was an article about a Filipino family causing a commotion between the police and participants of last year’s Thaipusam procession.

The court heard that TRS received more than 134 million page views in total from May 2014 to March last year, double that of the preceding year. Over 95 per cent of the website’s readers were from Singapore, reported The Straits Times.

Each time an article is viewed on the site, an advertisement is displayed and TRS would be paid for it. Between December 2013 and April last year, the website earned over A$473,000 (S$488,000) in advertising revenue from Google alone.

What all this suggests is that xenophobic articles = page views = $.

If the equation were cat photos = page views = $, TRS could've been filled with kitty pics.

So don't blame TRS. Blame ourselves for clicking on TRS for the xenophobic articles.

Just as the success of Trump playing up racism and xenophobia for votes says less about the man and more about the Republican voters, the success of TRS playing up racism and xenophobia for readership and profit says less about the website and more about us.

TRS may be gone, but not the readership.

Or the xenophobia.

Or Trump.

If only we liked cat photos more.