Misbehaving for Money: Something Wanda Sykes, Perez Hilton and Donald Trump Have in Common

When comedian Wanda Sykes, heretofore largely anonymous, got the gig to be the professional funny person at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, she could have been funny (she knows how). Everyone would have laughed (it was an easy crowd), she would have received compliments afterward (and presumably some more bookings), and that would have been that.

Alternatively, she could do something outrageous, be all over the news for a few days, and get even more bookings and interviews and make a lot more money.

When professional gossip Perez Hilton had the chance to be a judge at the Miss USA pageant, he could have asked the sort of question pageant judges ask, or limited himself to questions appropriate to a show with untold numbers of children in the audience, or even restrained himself from behaving intolerantly and abominably (and to the detriment of the political cause he claims to champion) after receiving the answer he solicited and presumably expected. Because he did not, he received extensive national publicity, which, I expect, has benefited him financially and professionally.

When Donald Trump saw that personnel employed by the beauty pageant he owns were behaving grotesquely, he could have issued a few orders and knocked 90 percent of this story off the front pages. Because he made a different choice, the news media is abuzz with the fact that he will hold a press conference in the morning, and he’ll no doubt be all over the news tomorrow. Ratings for his pageant will be up next year, not because greater numbers will tune in to admire the young ladies for their grace and beauty, but for the same reason people slow down on the highway to look at a car wreck. But Donald Trump will receive more publicity, and he will earn more money.

The behavior of Wanda Sykes, Perez Hilton, Donald Trump and others who intentionally behave less than graciously for money and profit is not admirable. If we wish to see less of it, we should turn our eyes away.

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The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.