From hope to dope? Five things to take from Channel 4's Donald Trump documentary

Channel 4's Matt Frei went on the campaign trail, capturing 'The Mad World of Donald Trump'

Donald Trump Matt Frei, Channel 4, The Mad World Of

Audience members wait for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to pass during a campaign event in Iowa [AP Photo/Paul Sancya]

Channel 4 reporter Matt Frei’s documentary on the Republican frontrunner for the nomination to contest the US presidential election was broadcast last night, with The Mad World of Donald Trump pulling no punches in its assessment of the New York property magnate’s politics. With interviews with supporters and critics, the hour-long documentary dived deep into Trump’s past and prospects as the leader of the free world.

The full documentary can be accessed on the Channel 4 website, but here are the five things to take from the Matt Frei’s investigation...

  • Trump’s troubles with women

According to Frei, a “time-bomb” waiting to go off in Trump’s campaign is the sworn deposition of his former wife Ivana Trump, who during the couple’s divorce proceedings made allegations under oath that her then husband had raped her in 1989. In the years since, Ivana Trump has pulled back on the allegation, saying: “I referred to this as a ‘rape’, but I do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.”

Trump’s campaign has been littered with obnoxious and misogynistic statements regarding women; at points on the trail and in interviews he has described one woman as a “fat pig” and another as “extremely unattractive.” When asked a difficult question by Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, he later said she had “blood coming out of her whatever,” and has widely lambasted her on social media ever since.

The documentary also included an interview with British journalist Selina Scott, who described her 1995 profile of the property tycoon. Although he was charming at first, when it became apparent that he would not have editorial control and that her feature would be unfavourable, he became “extremely abusive,” and Scott describes the successive letters he sent her as making her feel “stalked mentally.”

  • Trolling in the deep

When not taking pot shots at women, Trump will point his trademarked tirades of fury at seemingly any minority, to the absolute delight of his supporters. The documentary opens with a warning that the show contains “provocative views,” which is a trigger-warning understatement.

To his seemingly entirely white crowds, the would-be president tosses racist slurs and non-sequiturs about the feeble liberal elite. Muslims and Mexican immigrants are grist to the mill for the fawning crowds that cannot get enough of his truth bombs.

Channel 4 journalist Matt Frei outside Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City [Channel 4]

  • Flop Trumps

Many of the Republican politician’s supporters praise the fact that the billionaire is running off his own personal wealth, not seeking any financial support nor dipping his toes into the murky pool of campaign financing that has long been a source of concern in American politics. Trump, entirely on his own dime, is promising to make America great again, turning the business prowess that made him a TV star into economic growth.

But as Frei’s documentary showed, despite being one of the most famous billionaires in America, his run as a businessman has not been without trouble. Trump received considerable investment from his father and four of his business has been declared bankrupt.

  • The knives were out

Matt Frei on-the-campaign-trail discussions with Trump’s supporters presented a wide range of middle-class voters who represent a mythical ‘silent majority’ of US voters whose malaise with the country’s current administration is palpable.

But their unwavering support for the candidate was matched by the numerous critics of Trump, who weighed in on his policies with just as much passion. Chief amongst them was Jibril Hough, a Muslim activist who has twice been removed from Trump rallies for daring to peacefully protest his hate-filled rhetoric.

Jibril Hough is escorted out while Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a town hall meeting in South Carolina [AP Photo/Richard Shiro]

Stuart Stevens, a strategist who failed to secure Republican candidate Mitt Romney the Oval Office in his 2012 run, didn’t mince his words either, calling Trump a “huckster, a fraud, a stark-raving disaster for the Republican party.”

  • His meteoric rise is comparable to Obama’s

Despite having previously been a Democrat, Trump’s flip to the Republican party has seen him play on the notion of being the ultimate outsider – he has never held any elected office in the land and his only previous involvement in politics has been as a donor.

But by riding on the coattails of Middle America’s fraught relationship with the current administration and tapping into the growing global fear of economic slump, mass migration, and the ever-greater threat of terrorism, Trump is riding an incredible wave of support.

As Frei, formerly the BBC’s Washington correspondent, put it in the show, “I have to say the last time I saw crowds as enthusiastic as this was for Barack Obama in 2008.”

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