Michiel Vos is a regular contributor to VRT programmes including current affairs flagship Terzake and our morning news programmes. He is the son-in-law of Nancy Pelosi, the former Democrat Minority House Leader in Congress.
"Are you not entertained?” shouts Russell Crowe in "Gladiator" - the Hollywood blockbuster directed by Ridley Scott - while he stands in an arena in some God-forsaken country. In between two fights Crowe shouts to the crowd that has streamed in to see the unbeatable slave who fights like a Roman.
In 2001 Russell Crowe received the Oscar for best actor for his depiction of General Maximus Decimus Aurelius, who beats the Roman elite in a fight in which he is supported by the lowest classes within the Roman Empire.
The movie made a half a billion in worldwide sales and deserves to be revisited with our new leader Donald J. Trump in mind. Every time I see Trump take on the media in an arena I have to think of this scene. In one single gut check it sums up the entire Trump phenomenon.
Before I go live on VRT TV from the roof of CBS on 57th Avenue and VRT journalists start firing of their questions I always make a gut check with the CBS cameraman present. I ask "What do you think about... the issue of the day?"
The CBS cameramen - there's a group of ten of them who work for the international correspondents visiting their roof - are all blue collar. They work in news and live in New York. Still, they remain ordinary Americans, intelligent bruisers. They are not news editors, opinion formers. They see things as they are.
"CNN is garbage"
Yesterday I asked my cameraman about the row between Trump and the media and CNN in particular. He immediately responded: "CNN is garbage". All day long on the eve of Trump's press conference the news broadcaster had focused on that report with "salacious details" about Trump's visit to Moscow in 2013.
Other media outlets reported that Trump had embarked upon sexual escapades in the very same hotel room where Barack en Michelle had once spent the night. The sexual escapades included “golden showers" with sex workers who were said to have peed over a bed. All straight out of a script for 007.
My cameraman didn't believe a word of it and later little of the report was left intact. In his gut my cameraman felt that the media had gone too far in what can only be described as America's entertainment news-mill and that it had tried to attack the supreme entertainer, The Donald, with a report about fetish urinary behaviour endorsed by the President-elect.
I had seen my cameraman multiplied in large during the Trump rallies that I visited during the primaries. There you witness Trump's America and it is an America that is completely different to "my" America. I live in New York and that by itself makes me a suspect. In the Village - even more of a suspect and my in-laws are from San Francisco. Clearly three strike and I'm out!
Trump's America is one that detests politicians - people who every four years come and promise a raft of things they are unable to deliver on anyway. But what the people at Trump's rallies detest even more is the rabble of journalists - liberal liars who all went to those same decent schools, handed each other jobs and who decide what is politically correct in today's America.
Or like somebody said to me at a rally in New Hampshire: "We are conventional people. We work for our living. You guys appear somewhere with an Apple laptop and get paid for it. This is something that we do not understand."
"Horrible people in the press"
The gap between Trump's America and "my" America is wider and deeper than any European could imagine. The anger that resembles the Brexit rage in the UK is real. It is an anger among ordinary Americans directed at their politicians and the arrogant inhabitants of the metropolises, Wall Street and out-of-touch liberals and this is what Trump, the ultimate gut-candidate, felt during his campaign. It was not for nothing that during each any every rally Trump invited the crowd to jeer at the press that had gathered at the back. “Horrible people, in the press, look at ‘em, so horrible!” he spoke as the crowd jeered.
I could feel it when I stood at the back of these halls, surrounded by men and women, in comfortable hoodies with the words Ohio State or Steelers (a Pittsburg football team) written on them. They complained that Obama and the "Dems" were always going on about the "others" who needed to be brought into American democracy: gays, migrants, and people without health care.
But they, the ordinary white Americans on 55,000 dollars a year, were never mentioned. "When is it ever about me?” they would ask me. They saw Trump as someone who would put them and their America first. That's why his slogan "Make America Great Again" didn't sound daft in their ears.
This America loves it when Trump targets the left's Hollywood icon Meryl Streep with her pedantic elitist anti-Trump speech during the Golden Globes: there's nothing worse than Hollywood stars like Streep or Leonardo DiCaprio, who tell them what they can and cannot do.
This America loves it when Trump tussles with the moaning and groaning press that has been shouting for weeks that a Tweet is no replacement for a proper news conference.
Caps Lock mode
The press got its news conference, but this was no conference. It was a confrontation. It was a news conference in which Gladiator Trump stepped into the arena to take on the media that had publicised the "Golden Showers" report.
"Are we living in Nazi Germany?"
A "TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!" said Trump, of course all in caps and as the New York Times later put it The Donald stayed in caps lock mode during the entire news conference after he had taken to Twitter to wonder whether this sort of garbage could be released just like that: "Are we living in Nazi Germany?"
Trump remained true to character and in attack mode. What else? It is his only mode. He put down CNN as "garbage" and "fake news" (the word of '16-'17), repeatedly refused to allow a CNN reporter to ask a question. At that moment it became clear for everybody: things are going to change in the White House. "Real" policy issues were hardly touched on, but Team Trump had succeeded in lashing out big time at the apologists in the media.
I hope you are entertained.