Is the Press Too Kind to Trump? - 9/14/16
It is rare that I find myself in agreement with President Obama, but that was the case on Tuesday, when the President expressed his frustration over the press coverage given to Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump which he felt was not nearly critical enough.
However, while I feel the same way as Obama, I felt it most strongly at a different time, to be precise, during the fight for the GOP nomination a few months ago and not so much now.
When Trump was running to be the Republican candidate, I felt his press coverage aided him immensely in his campaign. According to a study in the New York Times Trump he received individually more coverage of his campaign on television than did all of the other GOP candidates combined! Other studies have shown that he received by far the largest share of coverage in the print media, as well.
True, a lot of this coverage concerned such matters as questionable aspects of his past business dealings, his outrageous statements on the campaign trail and his "interesting" personal life, but as the old saying goes, any publicity is good publicity. In politics, it is better to be attacked than ignored. Partly because of the overwhelming attention the media gave Trump's run, he was able to ultimately win the nomination while spending very little on a campaign organization or political advertisements.
Why was the press so interested in covering Trump? For one thing, he was already a celebrity, his name recognition was already extremely high. So the press knew that people wanted to watch, hear and read stories about him and his "fish out of water" campaign for the White House.
In addition, it is a fact that most members of the news media are liberal Democrats and willing to adjust their coverage of events in the way that would be most harmful to their political opposites, conservatives and Republicans. They obviously thought, and rightly, that Trump's candidacy would make mischief in the GOP, though they could have had no idea at the beginning of the year, just how much the Trump campaign would upend the traditional assumptions about how one wins a Presidential nomination.
It is interesting to me that, with Trump now actually the Republican nominee, that his press coverage has not gotten more critical, since I cannot imagine that more than a tiny fraction of the members of the news media would actually like to see him ensconced at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for four years.
One factor, perhaps, is that Hillary Clinton has dominated the coverage recently and not in a positive way. The email scandal still continues to grow and then there are the more recent concerns about her health. Even the liberal media cannot downplay or ignore huge stories like these, much as I am sure they would like to.
There is also the possibility that the media are going easy on Trump at the moment because they have some really damaging story in reserve (and with a man with a past like Donald Trump;s, it not unlikely that they have such a story) but which they plan to release close enough to the election that Trump will not be able to recover from it. Think of the last minute release of the news of George W.'s drunk driving conviction in Maine in 2000 or Dan Rather's release in 2004 of what later proved to be forged documents claiming that then President Bush had been given special favors to enable him to serve at home in the Texas National Guard instead of being drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam. If that is the case, we will just have to wait and see.
(NOTE: I do disagree with Barack Obama over his additional claim in his rant that Hillary Clinton is more qualified than Trump to be President. It think it can be argued that Trump has more executive experience than Clinton, as he has been a longtime overseer of a sizable business empire (though it is unknown exactly how profitable his business enterprises have actually been.) One does not have to have served in government positions to be a good leader. President Eisenhower was never elected or appointed to any state office before he became President, yet his experience in managing the invasion of Europe served him well when he was in the White House. I'm not saying that Trump would be as good a President as Eisenhower was, no, no, no! Just that on paper he has reasonable leadership qualifications.