The Media Made Donald Trump

This morning I read this article by Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post. In it, Cillizza explains how Donald Trump is running the most cost-effective presidential campaign in history. Let me draw your attention this bit:

And, that cycle, which Trump is able to re-create with ease thanks to his willingness to spend his day calling into cable shows (and the shows’ willingness to allow him to do so), provides the billionaire with the sort of publicity that money, literally, can’t buy. Why spend money on TV ads when you are all over TV without paying a dime? It’s impossible to estimate how much free media Trump has received since he started his campaign in June, but $100 million feels more like a floor than a ceiling.

I find that to be quite interesting. Cillizza writes as if news media has no choice but to cover Trump as much as they do. As a leading candidate, he deserves some news coverage, but it shouldn’t be wall to wall. News media has an obligation to the people. It is my belief that that obligation is not being met. Donald Trump is undeniably interesting, but he’s campaigning for the highest office in the land. Media personalities can’t marvel at his success when all we do is provide him with free coverage at the expense of numerous other candidates.

When people see something on the news, they assume it must be important and/or interesting. By the same token, if something is important and/or interesting, it has a good chance of being on the news. Modern news media has chosen to misuse their power, while expressing bewilderment and wonder at its results. Cillizza’s piece completely disregards the media’s own role in what and who it chooses to give airtime to. We must do better.

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