By Brigitte L. Nacos
The now certain presidential GOP candidate for the highest office in the land did not spend a lot of money for paid media in form of television ads during the primary months.
He did not have to. Trump got all the free media he wanted to promote his brand—the Donald.
Whenever and wherever he spoke, he got live coverage on the cable networks and plenty on the broadcast networks’ newscasts. In this respect, he loomed from the outset large over all other Republican and Democratic candidates.
Only when his competitors switched to attack mode, did they occasionally get sudden attention. And live coverage. Thus, when Bernie Sanders sharpened his criticism of Hillary Clinton, this earned him the same privilege.
Conflict is what newsrooms are after.
Whenever Trump called into the morning shows, he was granted access—certainly not in order to ask him tough but important questions.
After all, TV executives were and are convinced that Trump’s outrageous rhetoric is driving up ratings and advertising prices.
No journalistic ethics here.
But nothing demonstrated the news media’s insatiable appetite to showcase Trump than NBC’s decision to move its entire “Nightly News” broadcast on Wednesday night to Trump Tower, where Lester Holmes interviewed Trump and continued to anchor the rest of the program from the GOP’s candidate’s office.
Perhaps, the rest of the TV networks will follow suite and relocate to the Trump building which would save the real estate mogul turned TV Reality celebrity turned presidential candidate trips to TV studios.
Jim Rutenberg, the media critic of the New York Times, wrote today,
“you have to point the finger at national political journalism, which has too often lost sight of its primary directives in this election season: to help readers and viewers make sense of the presidential chaos; to reduce the confusion, not add to it; to resist the urge to put ratings, clicks and ad sales above the imperative of getting it right.”
Film-maker Rob Reiner noted in today’s “Morning Joe Show” on MSNBC that the media gives Trump a free pass simply because he is a celebrity. "The words that come out of his mouth, you'd see a guy in a park, a lunatic in a park on a soapbox and you'd walk right past him."
Indeed! And there is no reason to believe that the coverage will change for the rest of the primary season and during the general election.
Populists and demagogues were always news-makers; but in today’s highly competitive media landscape they are more so than ever before.
That’s one reason why nobody should underestimate Trump’s chances to win in November.