The PBS NewsHour last night examined how Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump has grabbed national headlines and “kidnapped” the news cycle since he entered the race. The segment runs from 10:15 to 21:42
PBS Anchor Gwen Ifill interviewed three so-called experts: Stuart Stevens (former Mitt Romney strategist), McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed, and Professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson of the Annenberg School of Communications at Pennsylvania University.
Jamieson acknowledges that whenever Trump says something outrageous, the media “gallop” after him hoping for more controversial quotes and leaving voters with no understanding of the original issue.
Coppins notes the obvious when he says that Trump’s campaign has been a media spectacle. But embarrassingly concedes “I don’t know how much it prepares him or shows whether he’s ready to be president…”
Really, the media aren’t telling us if he’s qualified?
Let’s be honest. There are two reasons why Donald Trump gets so much media attention.
First, he’s famous. Millions of Americans know him as the host of the former NBC television program “The Apprentice.” Others are familiar with his history as a New York City based real estate tycoon.
Second, he’s wealthy. Whether he’s a billionaire as he claims, he certainly has made millions of dollars from his various business ventures. With money comes power and attention.
It’s an ugly truth—money buys influence.
If any other candidates uttered the same controversial views as The Donald, they would have received either little media exposure or be ignored completely. Celebrity attracts hangers on of all stripes including America’s mainstream media.
No one is holding a gun to the head of media managers to cover Trump. No one is holding their children hostage. No one is blackmailing the news organizations to promote The Donald.
Instead, the media are covering Trump in their sycophantic lust for headlines and money. The more publicity about Trump, the greater the newspaper circulation, higher broadcast ratings, more online hits and increased revenue for news organizations.
The sad result is Donald Trump receives more attention that he deserves, news media fill their coffers by publishing trivia, and America’s voters are left uninformed about critical issues and serious proposals to solve them.
Whom can you trust? As a former journalist, it pains me to conclude that it is not the nation’s news organizations.