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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Why they cover Trump

The New Yorker, which has been covering Donald Trump for forty years now, just cannot get enough of him. Writer Margaret Talbot now blames Trump for the media's obsession with Trump. She's right but for a reason she probably does not understand.

From Margaret Talbot:
The irony of Donald Trump’s relationship with the press is that, while he has spent his entire campaign complaining bitterly about it, he has also sopped up more media attention than arguably any Presidential candidate in history. According to Andrew Tyndall, of the Tyndall Report, which tracks broadcast news, Trump received, in the period from January 1st to Labor Day, a combined eight hundred and twenty-two minutes of screen time on the nightly news broadcasts of ABC, CBS, and NBC. Hillary Clinton received three hundred and eighty-six minutes—and nearly ninety of her minutes were devoted to the controversy over the private e-mail server she used while Secretary of State. (Tyndall compiled these comparisons at the request of the Washington Post’s Paul Farhi, who reported on them last week.)
The coverage disparity can be attributed, at least in part, to journalism’s built-in bias toward the new. Mitt Romney got more airtime than Barack Obama in 2012, and Obama got more than John McCain in 2008. The Trump phenomenon is, of course, a new thing in so many ways. But Trump’s own thirsty courting of the media has also played a role. (As has Hillary Clinton’s reluctance to hold press conferences.) During the primary season, Trump regularly phoned in to the Sunday-morning interview shows, like a kid making prank calls while the rest of the family is at church. And until those news organizations decided that they didn’t want to be conducting interviews with the leading candidate for the Republican nomination that way, most took his calls: he racked up thirty such conversations, while none of the other candidates had one. Early on in his campaign, Trump’s press strategy looked like an attempt to re-create the cozy relationship he cultivated, in the nineteen-seventies, eighties, and nineties, with the New York tabloids, who had loved him for his excess and his accessibility. He kept them up to date on all his doings, and they kept him in boldface.
The real irony is that without Trump, this race would be a re-run of that tedious 1996 contest between Bob Dole and Bill Clinton, as the nation sleep-walked to the polls. Talbot would be writing about gardening or reviewing someone else's book on gardening, while relaxing on Martha's Vineyard playing tennis with a third tier Kennedy.

But Jeb did not make it. Instead, Trump jumped in and promoted his presidential campaign with a pizazz the likes of which the political punditry had never seen, nor likely will see again. His gauche embrace of patriotism and the slogan Make America Great Again gets the blood coursing through the veins of our sallow political class. Trump awoke the electorate, who in turn roused the Washington and Manhattan snobs (they lack the talent to be elite) and now here is Talbot churning out an installment of New Yorker's “Trump and the Truth” series in a vain attempt to stop the train. Like Wile E. Coyote soaring toward his doom, they have only a sign and a paper umbrella.

Meep, meep.

So the news media covers Trump because the news media has a "built-in bias toward the new," which is perhaps why we do not call it the olds business,

Trump is outside the New Yorker's ken. Its writers do not get Trump, nor should they. They should be writing about other things. Ballet. Opera. Whatever fills the columns in between those wonderful New Yorker cartoons.

Instead we have Talbot stumbling over herself trying to Talbotsplain how Trump will destroy libel law:
Trump’s comments on libel have evinced a juvenile understanding of both the Constitution and of jurisprudence. When Fred Ryan, the publisher of the Post, asked Trump if, by opening up libel law, he meant weakening standards like malice, Trump said nothing to indicate that he was familiar with either the legal sense of that term or with the Sullivan decision. “Yeah,” he said. “I think I would get a little bit away from malice without having to get too totally away. Look, I think many of the stories about me are written badly.” More frightening, though, is the way that Trump has spoken about the law as an instrument of personal vengeance—his way of getting back at his critics and making them pay. “We’re going to have people sue you like you’ve never got sued before,” he said, talking about reporters, at a February rally in Texas.
Trump's actions on libel were more interesting than his jumbled up answers to insipid questions. Someonen online said his wife worked in an escort service and the Daily Mail repeated the lie. The London newspaper stood by this lie. Months later, his wife filed a $150 million libel suit. The next day the newspaper apologized and retracted the story. If such action scares the New Yorker, then I suggest it enter the real estate business.

The media writes about Trump -- I write about Trump -- because he is the only national political leader we have. Its either Trump or the chinless token woman candidate. Most of the nation is uncomfortable about the choice. Far from being a bad campaign, this is a great one. Americans must decide whether to continue on this road to perdition or chose the new route, which may also lead to perdition and perhaps a worse spot in hell, or maybe -- just maybe -- lead us away from Satan's cauldron.

Trump has commanded the media's attention. That's what a leader does. Talbot thinks she hurts Trump. She aids him.

From Michael Godwin of the New York Post:
The debate fix was broadcast on the front pages well in advance, yet Trump wasn’t ready for it. Although he didn’t make fatal mistakes and survived Clinton’s best punches, his meandering digressions, along with his failure to demand the answers from Clinton that Holt didn’t, cost him precious time and opportunity. As such, they fall into Peter Kihss’ category of “stupid answers.”
But here’s the other side of the story: Trump won’t suffer much voter pain, certainly not enough to put victory out of reach. His secret weapon is that his core supporters, including many independents, distrust the media nearly as much as they distrust Clinton.
Consider that, while most media professionals said Clinton won the debate, most online polls of viewers had Trump winning.
The split verdict reflects a theme that goes back to the earliest GOP primary debates. Candidates who blasted media moderators for being prejudiced against Republicans got rousing ovations.
Ah yes. One of my favorite sections in my book was chronicling the debate coverage. The moderator would target Trump, who would say something that caused the media to go bananas, and after the debate Frank Luntz would say his focus group went from loving Trump to wanting to tar-and-feather him because he said Rosie O'Donnell was faaaaaaaaaaaaat!

Then those online polls would pop-up and show he won.

Goodwin is of the opinion that the media's help for Hillary will backfire.

Trump has to earn media. And he does. And he is very, very good at it. He forced the media to cover him, and much as they want to, they just can't quit him.


My new book, "Trump the Press," is a fun read that details how the experts missed the rise of Trump. Read the reviews in the right column.

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  1. That's a good *do* the media think they're going to get out of this one? Or, is that of any concern to them beyond the short term 538ish/crystal ballish subscriptions and clickbait?

    A rational person would most likely expect Ricky's 'splain'n phase later on, but considering they've all been Comey'd for a long time (or Comey Comey'd them) I'm not holding my breath.

  2. There's no such thing as bad publicity.

    The Donald gets that.

  3. Hatred of elites coupled to love of country is the stuff revolutions are made of. Trump has been able harness this to power his campaign. When a revolutionary mindset is in play what one would consider normal ways of acting and responding do not apply as a different set of principles are in play. Sometimes one can only determine those principles in retrospect. Oh, yes, they have been there all along, but teasing them out of the rhetoric in use at the time can be rather tedious. Prelude to Terror by Norman Hampson is instructive in this.

  4. DJT has The It. The It is a combination of smarts, charisma, and audaciousness that make people sit up in their seats. Hillary, depending on the day, is either a cure for insomnia or (with that cackling laugh) an inducement to shoot yourself in the head. She mos def does not have The It.

  5. "More frightening, though, is the way that Trump has spoken about the law as an instrument of personal vengeance—his way of getting back at his critics and making them pay..." Wouldn't it be nice to have someone on our side do this? The dems would squeal like stuck pigs!

  6. "More frightening, though, is the way that Trump has spoken about the law as an instrument of personal vengeance.

    Like both Obungler and the Clintons used the IRS. Or what about that "bureaucratic snafu" when the Clintons got those 1000 FBI files. I'm sure there wasn't any damaging info that the Clintons used against their enemies. Remember how Nixon was castigated for his enemies list? The Clintons and Obumbler have enemies lists as well but that's OK because they are Dimocrats.

    1. Lawfare has been the domain of the Democrat party for too long. It's about time they received a taste of the sword of justice. Or at least the pain of defending against lawsuit after lawsuit.

  7. The press has covered Trump because it's helped to keep them from going belly up. After the election, the temporary reprieve from bankruptcy will be over and done with, and the long-delayed draconian cuts in staff will commence. My local fully Left-leaning newspaper is about to cut two dozen folks from their already lean staff. There will be no tears shed in my house because the bias infects not just the editorial pages but the news pages as well. Good riddance to that.

  8. The New Yorker has spent much cash in the past on preemptive legal counsel to avoid liability when a public figure is to be the object of a partisan drone strike. It is unlikely, however, that Trump could manipulate liable law to really help any public space victim given the present population of the courts. What is feared however is that following a judicious packing of the courts over several years by DT such a manipulation could occur and ,even if ultimately watered down a little by the Supremes, the resulting defensive legal costs could be too high for marginal players like the New Yorker to sustain their traditional left wing search and destroy ops. Even bigger liars like CNN or NBC could be affected.Yet Another reason DT is feared and loathed by the Media and another reason to hope him victorious.

  9. Democrats, NeverTrumpers, and Donald Trump.

    As the man said, when the choice is a road to damnation or a road to perdition, it's time to cut through the woods.

  10. His secret weapon is that his core supporters are mostly angry rabble.

    There, fixed it for you.

    The rabble don't care about the debate, or that Trump didn't prepare for it. They care that he got some zingers in, and got to get into a slapfight with Lester Holt.
    You're welcome.