Media Turning Point in Covering Trump (@paulwaldman1)
Paul Waldman writing for The Washington Post, “The media have reached a turning point in covering Donald Trump. He may not survive it.”:
But it’s possible that when we look back over the sweep of this most unusual campaign, we’ll mark this week as a significant turning point: the time when journalists finally figured out how to cover Donald Trump.
Put together this series of developments coming one after together, and I suspect that many journalists are deciding that the way to cover Trump is just to do it as honestly and assiduously as possible, which would itself be something almost revolutionary.
And incredible – isn’t that is the essence of journalism?
But it is perhaps ironic that after all this time of wondering how to cover this most unusual candidate, Trump has shown the press that the best way to do it is to cover him like every candidate should be covered. That means not just planting a camera at his rallies and marveling at how nuts it all is, but doing to work to fully vet his background, correcting his lies as swiftly and surely as they can, exploring what a Trump presidency would actually mean, and generally doing their jobs without letting him intimidate them.
Maybe the press has not been taking a Trump candidacy seriously – he seems to skate by without the press halting the media train more than occasionally to ask, “I’m sorry, would you repeat that?… Yeah, you are fucking nuts.” As Todd Gitlin commented about Michael Grynbaum’s recent New York Times piece:
Grynbaum wrote of “Mr. Trump’s unrivaled ability to hijack a news cycle, a trait that producers are not yet sure how to handle.” Really? What are producers paid for? How hard is it to handle a candidate’s attempt to “hijack a news cycle?”
Or maybe it’s something else. Say I’m a cynic, but I’m not sure it’s in the interest of the media to have one candidate thoroughly debunked and battered months before the election, and therefore, they are letting him go for now. In fact, CBS CEO Les Moonves may have justified this suspicion:
It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.
Man, who would have expected the ride we’re all having right now?… The money’s rolling in and this is fun.
I’ve never seen anything like this, and this going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going.
It’s also possible that the press is worried about looking like they are not objective or “balanced” if they point out the inaccuracies, flip-flops, untruths, and blatant racism in Trump’s rhetoric. Sometimes they actually do, such as Jake Tapper in his interview with Trump about the judge in the Trump University case, but usually it is more of this false appearance of balanced reporting in which journalists balk at providing analysis.
Anyway, journalists, lest you forget, the robots are coming.