Blaming the media for Trump hides the root of the problem

REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
One of the dumbest ways of explaining the rise of Donald Trump is to blame the news media for paying attention to him and especially TV for letting him come on the air.

Seeking to understand how Donald Trump has gotten to where he has gotten in the presidential race is a big, long, hard project. He’s such a jerk and such a liar, but he’s entitled to run for the office and voters are entitled to vote for him and that’s step one and step two of the explanation.

Every day, I find myself drifting to Churchill’s famous statement about our cherished system of self-rule, that “democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” (Actually, Churchill said that this “has been said,” and I haven’t seen the quip provably attributed to whomever may have said it first.)

But one of the dumbest ways of explaining the rise of Trump is to blame the news media for paying attention to him and especially TV for letting him come on the air.

Yes, he brings good ratings, and TV is a business that cares about ratings, so the networks’ motives are not pure. Yes, he has had more “free” air time than any other contender, but that is substantially because he makes himself more available and because he uses free TV time instead of ads. In general, interviewing candidates on the shows is better for democracy than having them rely on 30-second ads which, if they aren’t 100 percent lies are reliably less than 10 percent “truth,” as I would define the term.

Too kind?

There’s the bit about how the networks have been too kind to Trump by relaxing the usual rules that some of the shows have that require a candidate to be physically present for the interviews, allowing Trump to call in from wherever he is campaigning. Give me a break. It’s not really a rule. It’s a preference, probably because it looks better, and has often been waived to get a particular interview. I have seen this, absurdly in my view, compared to a multi-billion-dollar gift to Trump of “free” air time.

How absurd? I mean: How absurd! Having a presidential candidate interviewed on your show is not a favor the network does for the candidate. It’s a service to the viewers and to the democratic process, and if it slops over into the entertainment function, that’s not a fundamental problem. We should all want all the serious candidates on all the serious shows as much as possible, and if that comes at the expense of less time for punditry roundtables, that’s fine with me.

Lastly, there’s the criticism that the problem is that journalists don’t ask Trump tough questions and don’t do enough to stop him from lying or evading questions of distorting what we might laughingly call his “record.” Maybe, early in this fiasco, there was a bit of that, before it became clear that he was a serious candidate. But for months now, journalists, the best in the business, have been fact-checking the crap out of Trump. The separate, specific “fact-checking” function of journalism on sites like PolitiFact and FactCheck and others is a relatively new phenomenon in mainstream journalism, and I think it’s a great addition. Anyone who seriously wants to know which of Trump’s “factual” assertions check out can find out pretty easily. On nights when there’s a debate on, I never go to bed without reading — for free, online, requiring no special powers — an annotated transcript that highlights questionable factual assertions made by the candidates, certainly including Trump. If that’s too hard for voters to do, OK, let them waste their vote on a liar, but you can’t blame journalism, as an institution, for not doing it.

The awkward problem

But that gets to the more honest, if awkward, root of the problem. Everyone knows Trump is a lying blowhard. Some people don’t mind. They like him and support him anyway. Anyone who cares to know precisely when and about what and to what extent he is lying can know that too, although they might have to expend a small effort to keep up-to-date.

I’m not usually in the habit of particularly praising or defending the performance of the news media, but the particular effort to blame journalism for Trump strikes me as a bit like blaming the rooster for the rising sun, and I’ve been meaning to get it off my chest. I decided to let fly this little philippic when I saw smarty Frank Rich making a similar point in his regular New York Magazine comment, although he was not commenting on the particular silliness about the TV shows giving Trump free air. Rich was rejecting a similar comment from President Obama, who blamed the media for facilitating the rise of Trump by not being tough enough on him. That piece is here, and the stuff to which I allude is right at the top.

Comments (47)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/01/2016 - 09:40 am.

    Phone interviews

    The problem with a telephone interview is that the viewer can’t see who is coaching the person being interviewed. and we’ve seen that Trump has problems giving specific answers to difficult questions.

    And to paraphrase Roman Hruska:
    There are a lot of jerks out there and they deserve representation.

  2. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 04/01/2016 - 09:51 am.

    Indeed.

    The media didn’t cast a single vote for Mr. Trump. The credit, or the blame, for Trump’s success lies solely on the shoulders of those who cast a ballot for him, either at a caucus or a primary.

  3. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/01/2016 - 10:02 am.

    Actually, it is the years of training to ignore the news media as “liberal lies” that has the most to do with his rise, accompanied by the faux-realism of TV “reality” shows and entertainment.

    So it is almost inevitable that a reality-TV star becomes a primary candidate for president.

    The bluff and bluster of the ‘Apprentice’ star seems like an effective way of dealing with the issues of the world in 47 minutes or less. No need to go into all of that nuanced “liberal lies”–it’s far easier than that.

    After all, it’s only a game.

    There is a serious problem with wall-to-wall entertainment these days–the attractions of handling the difficult problems becomes less, the patience required for dealing with the issues is less common–if it can work in movies–why can’t it work in real life?

    I heard an interview with a writer who had been held captive by ISIS for a year or so, and he came to understand that the ISIS people operated as seeing their lives as parts in a movie–lived large on the media screens of the world–playing a role, just as their victims are. The same “unreality/reality” show attitudes permeates the modern political atmosphere.

  4. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 04/01/2016 - 10:09 am.

    The media is doing a good job exposing Trump’s true character

    Donald J. Trump is a very insecure person. Insecure people often cover their insecurity with bluster as Trump does. Denigrating others is another mechanism they use to make themselves appear stronger, bigger, and better just as the Donald does. Trump thrives on the self-adulation because of his extreme narcissism. He needs to be constantly admired and he feels entitled to the best treatment and to unquestioning compliance from everyone in his life. His name is plastered on the HUUUGE things he owns. Excuses are a narcissist’s best friend. He will pin the blame on anyone but himself. He incites the crowd to violence and then claims he is not responsible. Narcissists tend to be really good liars. In Donald’s case a “four Pinocchio” “Pants on fire” liar. He wants to expand the liable laws so he can sue anyone who says anything about him he doesn’t like. He is a person who needs some serious counseling to bring him back into the mainstream of life where he wouldn’t need the bluster and denigration to feel equal to others. As a candidate, we don’t really know what Trump would do if elected because he has trouble connecting his thought dots and making them rational. He is unable to say how he would accomplish any of his fringe ideas. Follow-up questions are met with “you have my answer” when his first response wasn’t an answer to anything that makes any sense. The Republicans are good at peddling fear and war mongering. Little did they anticipate the fear they peddle would become the fear that their own candidate might become the nominee. Little did they anticipate the war mongering they peddle would become an internal war that just might tear apart the entire Republican Party. Trump says he will bring the party together but America has already seen his style and doesn’t like it. Fear is uncontrollably rampant in the Republican Party. More than 35,000 people signed a petition to allow guns at the Republican convention. That says they are fearful of their own party as Republicans are all that will be there. If the GOP’s fear is this far out of control already, the Ohio National Guard needs to be put on alert for the convention. It will be a sad day in American history if Donald J. Trump makes it to the presidency. Establishment Republicans are doing everything they can to dump Trump. If they are unsuccessful dumping Trump, they will use their good old GOP LOGIC by expecting the electorate to vote for Trump because now he is a good candidate. Go figure. It will be a sad day in American history if any Republican makes it to the presidency.

    The top RNC staffer in charge of increasing the number of black members in the Republican Party resigned. Three other black staffer s have also left the RNC. Reince Priebus’ oath he had the candidates sign so they would agree to support whom ever won the nomination fell flat on its face. Uncontrollable Donald trump is taking the party so far to the right some Republicans say they refuse to vote Republican. All the coverage the media gives him is good for the country because it exposes his repeated nonsense to the voter. It prove his nonsense is not a one off situation but it is actually what Trump believes. Establishment Republicans have been unable to stop Trump. Like a house of cards the Republican Party is headed for a TKO. The GOP has worked relentlessly for decades to earn their just reward – failure.

  5. Submitted by Roy Everson on 04/01/2016 - 10:34 am.

    Too much tolerance

    Blaming the media and blaming journalism is not the same thing. Trump gets enormous coverage from outlets for the pure purpose of ratings. Moolah. Just ask the president of CBS, who recently crowed about the ratings bonanza named Trump, who nevertheless may be bad for the country. People come to the Circus to see the clown, not the lion tamer.

    So what is the root of the problem? There is an unnaturally high tolerance for appeals to bigotry among white men in this country. They will assure you that they are not racist, nativist or religious bigots, and neither is Trump. I will, take them at their Word. But their tolerance speaks volumes. Their enablers in the right wing media are helpless to offend them for fear of offending their niche market. Slowly changing but too late.

    Sadly, the msm execs holding on to their Public broadcast Licenses have similar sensibilities. Don’t go too far into examing Trump’s success lest you offend a big chunk of your audience.

    • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 04/01/2016 - 11:44 am.

      Roy, I agree with you…

      …except that I don’t take them at their word. Too seldom will a bigot call themselves a bigot.

  6. Submitted by joe smith on 04/01/2016 - 10:40 am.

    It is a broken system of corruption and failed promises by career politicians that has Trump and Bernie getting big support from many voters. The media does a poor job of drilling down on either guy. Trump spouts out impulsive things steady then back tracks without much pushback from media and nobody asks Bernie how he is going to bring jobs (economy is no. 1 issue with regular folks) to middle class with higher taxes on corporations, small businesses and more taxes. Also, how he is going to pay for all the free stuff he wants to give out

    To be fair and honest about our political system you would have to point out that not only did Bush’s term hurt regular folks but Obama’s policies have not worked either. We have gone from a manageable national debt to 20 Trillion under 16 years of Bush/Obama. The middle class has been brutalized in the last 7 years, education has gotten worse under both, Wall Street flourished under Bush and has done better under Obama, corny capitalism is out of control and nobody trusts either party because of the lies, under achievement and wasted money.

    Easy for liberals to blame Bush much harder to blame Obama, who was going to save us from rising oceans, bring jobs, free healthcare, reign in wall Street, mend racial divisions and a million other things that have not happened.

    So yes the media has to shoulder some blame by not reporting honestly what is happening to regular folks for many years. People don’t trust politicians and the media for a reason….. Easy to blame the people but maybe the media should look at themselves.

    • Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 04/01/2016 - 06:28 pm.

      In an age of anti-intellectualism it has become far to easy to excuse “the people” from doing their due diligence. Career politicians aren’t responsible for the refusal of people to take education seriously, to take science seriously, to take politics seriously. To be fair and honest there is a reason that Donald Trump “loves the poorly educated” – and that reason wasn’t created by the media or a “broken system.” Poorly educated people often make poor decisions.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/02/2016 - 12:11 pm.

        Interesting

        I think Joe is on the right track. And I know a lot of smart highly educated people who support Trump. I think they believe that anything has to be better than our status quo politicians…

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/04/2016 - 03:20 pm.

          “Anything”

          covers a lot of real estate.
          ‘Those who do not read their history….’

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/05/2016 - 08:55 am.

            True

            It is possible that Trump could be worse, but he is different.

            Where as with Cruz, Kasich and Clinton we are pretty much guaranteed the status quo bickering… And I think with gridlock in place, I think Sanders will be stymied.

            So it is possible that Trump could be better. I think he is likely a social Liberal and fiscal Conservative, though it is hard to tell with all of his flipping and flopping…

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 04/06/2016 - 06:24 am.

        “age of anti-intellectualism”

        I certainly agree with that, but am not sure about what follows.

        Political Strategy: Taking the Impulse of the Electorate.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 04/02/2016 - 03:33 pm.

      Sorry Joe:

      Off topic but:

      All spending/revenue bills originate in the congress, mostly “R” lately.
      The President submits a budget, if congress doesn’t want him to spend the money or raise the debt, simple answer: Don’t appropriate it. Obama, may share responsibility, however the senate and the congress also have an equal share. As does the previous President’s, lets not rewrite/reinterpret history.

      For reference
      Article 1 Section 7 & 8 of the constitution

      • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/02/2016 - 05:11 pm.

        And this year, Congress has even refused to acknowledge Obama’s budget proposal by giving it the normal hearing.

        In the “progress” of the Congress, they have moved to the point where they refuse to do the constitutional normal, simply because it comes from Obama.

        Refusal to hold hearings on nominations and now budget proposal–a new low of discourtesy.

      • Submitted by joe smith on 04/02/2016 - 05:13 pm.

        Dennis

        As I said both parties are not trusted. Neither Bush or Obama reigned in spending. With all thee branches his 1st 2 years and 2 of 3 branches the next 2, Obama exploded spending. The GOP with both Houses caved in steady to spending and with that being our past 7 years folks are disgusted with politicians in general. I hope you are not suggesting that it is only the GOP that has given into the budget busting, reckless spending because that is totally wrong.

        • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 04/04/2016 - 12:37 pm.

          Deficit Spending

          It looks like a little education is in order as there seems to be the perception that deficit spending is a bad thing.

          When the economy tanks, as it did in 2008 right before Obama took office, people get laid off left and right. That means people stop spending money even if they still have a good job because they’re not sure if their position is the next one on the chopping block. And consumer spending makes up roughly 70% of the U.S. economy. Much of the rest is taken up with business purchases, who aren’t spending money on new acquisitions or capital expenditures because no one’s buying their goods and services.

          There are three segments that make up the economy: consumers, business, and (you guessed it!) the government. If the first two aren’t buying anything, then that leaves the third and final segment to buy something so businesses can produce it and hire someone to do the assembly.

          Government buys, people get back to work, and people who work can pay taxes. That’s why you saw the deficit explode early in Obama’s term.

          Now that the economy is humming along, we’ve seen the deficit get reduced under Obama. Give it enough time under Obama’s leadership and you’ll see it reduced to zero, run a surplus, and we’ll start to chip away at the national debt.

          Personally, I don’t see any reason to blame anyone for that action as it was exactly the right thing to do in that situation. Anything else would have been an unmitigated disaster and would have thrown the country (and probably the world) from a recession into a depression.

  7. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 04/01/2016 - 10:54 am.

    The train wreck factor

    I would never vote for Trump but regularly tune in to shows he is on just for the entertainment. For years I haven’t cared for the fact that the news people, especially TV news, only seem to care about the horse race aspects of the campaign.

    But my biggest fault with the media is that the let candidates slide by without giving actual answers to actual questions. Biggest example maybe being when they ask Trump about the use of nukes and he starts complimenting the group on their looks and asks them to introduce themselves. That was the whole clip; they never went back to the original question. Finally the other day Chris Matthews relentlessly went at the abortion question until he finally got a response from Trump. That response demonstrated how much he is making this up as he goes along. When forced to consult his own “big brain” we get to see how unprepared he is for anything other than rabble rousing.

    I think most media reporter place candidate access and decorum over actual hard reporting and calling out candidates who refuse to answer question.

  8. Submitted by Ray J Wallin on 04/01/2016 - 11:49 am.

    Name-calling…

    Trump has come to power because, more and more, we call people we don’t agree with, ‘jerk’ and ‘liar’ and ‘blowhard’

    Doing this slashes discussions, forms sides, and people like Donald Trump rise because they are ‘sticking up’ for a side.

    When those in media use these names, the problem intensifies, Trump does better, the media uses stronger terms, Trump does even better, media responds, Trump …

    But…

    it feels good when we call Trump names. Because he deserves it, right? It’s not our fault!

  9. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/01/2016 - 02:49 pm.

    Journalism

    The only reporter in America Donald Trump fears is Megyn Kelly. Not that every politician should walk in fear of every journalist, but I think it might be worth asking why that is. Is she doing something or at least part of something that other journalists should be doing as well?

  10. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 04/01/2016 - 02:50 pm.

    Donald Trump began his GOP campaign for the presidency to see how far he could take it without spending a dime of his own money (he gave a loan to his campaign; the campaign is mostly funded by sales of tickets and t-shirts and caps and other Trump “memorabilia” and will reimburse Trump’s loan with that money). He hired only a skeleton staff for it.

    He played the media to get free time. He got it, in spades. I spend time at my gym staring at three TV screens, seeing Trump on CNN and Trump on Fox and even Trump on NBC (but not as much). All the time! You don’t see the other GOP candidates nearly as much, and never have seen them–the media get more audience from Trump’s outrageous speech habits and video clips, and they admit that they prefer him to the other, duller candidates–they admit that they turn to Trump uber alles.. CNN hasn’t done much with Sanders or Clinton, and forget Fox in that regard! The media have, in great part, created Donald Trump’s front-runner status.

    Eric’s attempt to defuse the accusation that our print and telecommunications media have spent too much unquestioning time on Donald Trump does not convince me. Eric actually asks the public to watch CNN or Fox or a nationally-televised “debate” and then rush to a third-party web site or two or three, to see various claims debunked in a few days? Please. I’ve seen media types just glide on after hearing a blatant error of fact from Trump.

    Most Americans (about 80%) are embarrassed and ashamed that Trump has achieved the profile he has, so that the rest of the world wonders what has happened to America. Nothing has happened to America. It’s just that the media have hyped not only Trump himself and not contradicted him; they also haven’t made clear how few Americans actually have cast a ballot for Trump so far. A minority even of the minority Republicans in the country.

    That failure to do their job, we’re laying at the media’s doorstep, thank you.

  11. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 04/01/2016 - 04:46 pm.

    “Eric’s attempt to defuse the accusation”

    No kidding. The lengths he goes to here fits the dynamic of denial and overcompensation.

    “blaming the rooster for the rising sun”?? Really??

    All the media pundits have at one stage or another of this campaign expressed their complete bafflement at the success of Trump’s campaign. They find it incomprehensible. Maybe the reason is that his underlying contempt for the self-serving sanctimoniousness of our “journalism” is beyond the journalists’ comprehension. There are A WHOLE LOT of people who agree with him on that point.

    The Republican party has shown the same willful blindness, as they simply refused to see what was obvious – a significant part of their own membership holds their establishment in abject contempt. Only lately are some in that establishment realizing they have a very real problem, and that it’s not just Donald Trump.

  12. Submitted by Jim Million on 04/02/2016 - 09:00 am.

    Perfect Dust Storm…

    Now this must be truly a very big event:

    Eric Black and Charles Krauthammer writing from the same refuge.

    I had an excellent high school civics teacher [admitted socialist] who suggested that the socio-political spectrum is not a linear continuum, but rather, perhaps an elipse, where philosophies eventually meet at one end or the other.

    Here we seem to be….

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/02/2016 - 09:55 am.

      Beware the metaphor!

      Socio-political entities are multi-dimensional.
      How that dimension is characterized depends on which one you are looking at.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 04/02/2016 - 03:38 pm.

      What’s disturbing is:

      The number of folks that align with that far right wing philosophy! What does that say about America?

  13. Submitted by Rick Prescott on 04/02/2016 - 03:48 pm.

    Within, Without

    I appreciate Eric’s objections to blaming the media. But it’s clear from this post that the coverage Trump receives looks a little different from within the world of journalism than it does to the rest of us. Out here, it’s a lot harder to hold the industry blameless in this situation.

    There are many factors at the root of Trump’s recent political success, and free media time is undeniably one of them. Imagine a campaign with a similar tone and message, but without the celebrity face and free TV time. That would look a lot more like David Duke or Pat Buchanan, and would have real trouble getting out of the starting block, even after catching on with a sliver of the electorate.

    The modern reality is that the media sets the bar for credibility, and can give the gift of perpetuation to campaigns which otherwise would struggle and evaporate. (For what it’s worth, something not that different has happened with Bernie Sanders.)

    Trump took his celebrity and sliver of support, paired it with unrelenting salesmanship and braggadocio, then took it to the media with the offer of a quick buck. In fairness, the media probably never stood a chance. But I think Eric downplays it much too far when he says, “the networks’ motives are not pure.”

    I also think that Eric misses by offering niche web sites as a sufficient source of fact-checking. It’s the equivalent of giving someone the biggest billboard in the world and then putting a tiny asterisk at the bottom. Journalistic responsibility is to provide factual accuracy and call out attempted deception at every turn. That simply hasn’t been done.

    Imagine how this would have been different if the major networks had stopped covering Trump at the first signs of irrationality, incompetence, unpreparedness, hubris, xenophobia, misogyny, bigotry, bullying, name-calling, hatred, and deception. Frankly, that is what should have happened. When this is all over, the media would do well to analyze deeply its own role in turning Trump into something he should never have become: a credible candidate.

    The sad reality is that the principles of old-style journalism do not apply to the world of infotainment. In the past, presidential politics have (generally) stayed above this level, but no longer. Our candidates in 2016 are just another batch of reality TV contestants, trying to stave off elimination, with the prize of becoming leader of the free world.

    Media consumers (who I don’t feel right calling the “electorate” right now) must accept blame, but you cannot excuse the media machine which has done essentially nothing to stop the downward spiral, and must be held complicit for holding profits in higher regard than our republic.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 04/02/2016 - 04:47 pm.

      Nicely put. But “Bernie Sanders…not that different” ??

      Huh??

      Mr. Sanders’ campaign has been systematically marginalized by this same outfit throughout the campaign.

      It has been given no “gift of perpetuation” by the media. Rather, in February, he raised over $40 million dollars from a myriad of small donors, and in March, another month in excess of $40 million. His many enthusiastic supporters have kept him in the race.

      • Submitted by Rick Prescott on 04/02/2016 - 06:02 pm.

        Look Again

        What you describe about fundraising is undoubtedly part of the Sanders campaign narrative, but to say that Sanders has been “marginalized” by media outlets is flatly untrue.

        In fact, once Sanders caught on with his own sliver of the electorate, his campaign has been given the gift of perpetuation over and over by the media. It’s been a very long time since any news of the Clinton campaign was not accompanied by news of the Sanders campaign, often with speech excerpts, some of them lengthy. This started happening long before the first votes were cast.

        Admittedly, it is not his celebrity driving the coverage (it’s the benefit to ratings of a horse race), but the coverage has been substantially greater than his campaign could ever have afforded to buy, probably more than it deserved (given his chances), and it has played an undeniably large role in sustaining his quixotic bid.

        In this way — and this way ONLY — his candidacy has benefited from the media’s profit bias in a mechanism similar to that which has benefited Trump. I think you can argue chicken and egg (as with Trump), but without the substantial coverage he’s been given by the media (and was given very early), his campaign would not be anywhere near where it is today in terms of relevance.

        The unfortunate fact is that media decisions drive who we talk about, and often HOW we talk about them. This is nothing new. Both the Sanders and Trump campaigns, by any standard other than the one we’re dealing with in this cycle, would have died quick deaths. The media kept them alive, plain and simple, and for very obvious reasons.

        • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 04/04/2016 - 09:27 am.

          Your own comments are alliterated with the media’s

          …language of “marginalization”.

          ” sliver of the electorate”, “quixotic”, ” relevance”, and multiple iterations of your thesis that Mr. Sanders is not a “real” candidate, but rather, merely the beneficiary of undeserved coverage and/or a politically trivial candidate.

          You don’t seem to recognize these themes ringing in your ears from their massive repetitions in the media. This non-existent “marginalization” seems to have worked it’s magic on you !!

          “Look again”, indeed !! Very good advice !!

          • Submitted by Rick Prescott on 04/04/2016 - 03:29 pm.

            Narratives

            We’re stuck in a political culture where, like it or not, the media defines credibility AND writes the narratives for each candidate. We’re all subject to that influence and are only fooling ourselves if we think we’re not — me and you included.

            And that’s the very point of my objection to Eric’s downplaying of the media’s role. To varying degrees, the media made Sanders just as it made Trump. It’s not realistic to believe that Sanders would have raised so much money from small donors without the media coverage. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, and I’d love to believe that such a thing could happen, but it didn’t this time. Sanders simply didn’t have that kind of traction before the media decided he would make a good foil for Clinton.

            Let me be clear that this does not cheapen his campaign or make him somehow “politically trivial.” It’s merely an acknowledgment of the mechanism at work, and the incredible power that the media wields with essentially no checks and balances. Everybody has a candidate that they wish had caught fire with the media. (Paul Tsongas, anyone?) Both Trump and Sanders fans got their wish. That’s why we’re still talking about these guys. The mechanism may result in things you like, or not, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is the same mechanism at work.

            For the record, I’m glad the media picked up on Sanders. His voice has added dignity and substance and important ideas to this campaign. But I’m not going to kid myself and think that his voice would have remained relevant had the media not decided it should. Frankly, that’s one of the factors that unnerves me about the future of our country.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 04/02/2016 - 05:47 pm.

      Instant Information Age

      Assures Instant Disinformation, as well.

      Bookmarking websites is rather akin to walking into a public library and always going directly to the same shelf in the same stack.

  14. Submitted by Mike martin on 04/02/2016 - 07:41 pm.

    what happened to the equal time rules/doctrine?

    Didn’t it use to be that if a broadcast network, TV or radio, interviewed a candidate for 1/2 hour all the other candidates for that office also got 1/2 .hours.

    Why doesn’t the other GOP candidates get the same air time as Trump? If they got the same air time maybe they would get more votes. Who votes for someone they don’t know anything about?

  15. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/03/2016 - 09:04 pm.

    The Problem?

    Why does the media want to interview a blowhard with no credibility ten times a day on the phone or anywhere else in the first place? Meanwhile one of the most brilliant campaigns in US history is being ignored and the media is missing the story almost entirely, i.e. Bernie Sanders. And Sanders will actually become president if he gets the nomination.

  16. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 04/04/2016 - 09:41 am.

    Media to blame

    I have to go with Constance and Lowell. The media has played a HUGE role in the making of Donald Trump as a candidate.

    That being said, the media has been irresponsibly letting BS slide from all kinds of sources, but particularly politicians. So there’s a fact check site…so what! Low information voters are still voters, and the media used to be a place where low information voters could at least be exposed to a minimum amount of information by being a reliable source of actual news! Not any more. In the name of “balance”, the media has unquestioningly plastered lots of BS over every news source possible, with weak attempts at countering it. Sorry, but balance doesn’t mean sticking a chicken at one end of a teeter totter that is weighted at the other end with a 1 ton pink elephant. The media is responsible for not replacing the chicken with a 5 ton gray elephant.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 04/05/2016 - 11:06 am.

      Agree…

      By way of lengthening that teeter board in a full social stress test, Sanders v. Trump in November would be most interesting.

      Your comments on media irresponsibility are spot on, begging the question: Can there be political evolution without social revolution?

      What do you think?

      • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 04/05/2016 - 01:33 pm.

        I don’t know

        Honestly, this is a conversation I’ve had many times before. Often, it starts with someone else saying “the people should have revolted” over something or another. I respond with “yeah? WE should have.” And we didn’t. And we won’t. There are murmurings of revolt evident with BLM and Occupy Wall Street, but they’re largely disorganized and/or not terribly compelling to the larger population. We probably, on the whole, should support these things, but we’re waiting for the movements to get their stuff together and clarify their messages (sorry, Jamar isn’t compelling to me–Trayvon is, though) The problem is that, the general population is uncomfortable, on a deep, nagging level, with a lot of things. But we’re also tottering from all kinds of man-made disasters, from the decimation of our saved earnings (nothing like gambling with your retirement–gotta love a 401k) thanks to collusion of banks with politicians, to the threat of “imminent” destruction by terrorists all. the. time. It’s easy to just soak up the BS, not so easy to find the truth, let alone fight for it. Not many are willing to give up our hard earned security to make it better. Me included.

        • Submitted by Jim Million on 04/07/2016 - 05:04 pm.

          Numbing the Pain But Not Reality

          There really is so much/too much pain all over society, it seems. Most of us were schooled to believe education brings information, then options, then decisions, then a future with some degree of self-determination.

          We seem to have failed in this instant information age in some very big way: we seem to have failed to educate in terms of information evaluation with respect to self and personal goals, aspirations, even dreams. So, as you allude, it’s all too easy to get a Twitter flash mob going…Occupy this or that, Whatever lives matter at the moment, etc.

          For the less easily manipulated mass of Society, those noted failures of honest expectations of leadership, long term stability (with blips of minor turmoil), even long term prosperity have seemed to crash around all of us to some degree. When national statistics are not confirmed in personal feelings, feelings win every time.

          And, we become inured to most all of this, uneasy at first and ultimately resigned to lesser expectations. Those who never had a long view of life, for whatever reason, resort to immediacy of gratification of all sorts.
          The many who trusted and still hope to trust someone/something, have become aware that we, the United States, are doing mostly better than the rest of this world; yet, that’s not helpful when feeling we are not doing very well here. We just become even less optimistic about everywhere else. Eventually, we isolate ourselves.

          Others, who are determined to grow and succeed in their plans, become so focused on those family goals they likely become isolated from most everything else, as well. For them, life has significantly become the challenge of work, keeping working, maybe getting a promotion, keeping the kids safe and moving them toward conventional parental goals, all the time trying to make sure they don’t go under with the masses. We should not blame them for striving, simply because too many others have shortened their strides or perhaps have wandered from their early hopes, dreams and expectations. Those who are still striving seem no longer to be helping all those others. How can they? Why would they? What could they really do?

          Social malaise seems upon us, in part, for good reasons–on the whole, not so. Perhaps if more were to ignore, more would explore more productive channels of information. As it is, instant information with little evaluation is doing us wrong. Each of us must “suck it up” and again evaluate everything with our own minds and vision.

          Most of us no longer believe in promises, knowing so few are truly meant, and fewer kept. So, we begin to seriously question results, because we must live with those. Today we are seriously politically fractured, most all would agree. Therein may lie those seeds of revolution, you suggest. Evolution seems stalled.

          Thanks for considering this stuff.

  17. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/04/2016 - 10:33 am.

    This is “media” in a capitalist society

    Look, media in a capitalist society is necessarily organized around revenue and sales. This only way to compensate for that is having a publicly financed media option that oddly enough, can function independently of market demands.

    The market demands eyeballs and Trump attracts a lot eyeballs it’s as simply as that. Those who work for the “media” are trained to do whatever they can to attract as many eyeballs (or ears) as they can. We have a media structure in the US that is now almost entirely dependent upon earned revenue or corporate largess for it’s funding and the end result is nearly a complete inability to have an informed and intelligent discussion about ANYTHING. The truth is that for all it’s hand wringing and pseudo self reflection the media in the US simply does not perform the function of providing a format for informed and intelligent discourse, that’s just not what it does so why are we surprised by the Trump phenomena? I’m not.

  18. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 04/04/2016 - 03:54 pm.

    The other angle to the media-responsibility story is, of course, that the media almost completely missed the Bernie Sanders rise. I followed his campaign from early on, and it was hard to do with the mainstream media–TV, even cable; local and national newspapers on-line or paper; national magazines and even some bloggers. The media were dismissive: he’s a WHAT? What’s a “democratic socialist”? hee, hee. He’s a weirdo of the left, don’t worry about him, as the laugh up their sleeve.

    Then suddenly, Bernie Sanders not only was drawing huge, enthusiastic crowds to arenas all around the country, he was raising tens of millions of dollars (guy pulls in now about $45 million a month, kids!) from little people whose contributions were mostly under $50. That popularity and that fundraising ability came first, and much later came the media attention, such that it is.

    All the media has been able to do is the Horse-Race commentary re Clinton and then compare Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump, as “populists.” The media have yet to begin analyzing Bernie Sanders’ message, which is so much richer and well-informed than anything Trump can come up with that a comparison of the two is ludicrous. Sanders has a hopeful, future-looking view of the U.S., a “can-do” attitude that doesn’t involve name-calling and insult. He’s the most serious candidate in this year’s race. And the media are still not getting that.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/05/2016 - 11:34 am.

      Exactly

      Sanders is nobody who came out of nowhere with 3% of the vote and 0 super delegates, and facing an organized resistance from the party establishment, and he’s now polling even or higher and erasing Clinton’s delegate lead. He’s done all of that with of of the most unique campaign and campaign finance strategies in US history and all we keep hearing is that Clinton’s nomination is inevitable. When Sanders walks into the convention with more pledged delegates than Clinton the establishment media will now proclaim astonishment but in fact they will have missed the biggest political story in decades.

      Meanwhile, since THIS article was posted I count at least three more stories about Trump as of this morning. But no…. the media didn’t create the media obsession with Trump… I forget, what created the media obsession with Trump again?

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 04/05/2016 - 04:55 pm.

      RE: your last sentence

      I think the media DO get it, but they have little interest in covering Sanders’ campaign on the issues, especially when one of the issues he has raised repeatedly is that our media are corporate-owned and controlled, and do not serve the public interest in our election campaigns.

      The media has a vested interest in the status quo. Who better to assure them the status quo is in good hands, than Hilary Clinton ?? Thus her consistent premature coronation in media coverage.

      Just a thought to add to your comment.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/06/2016 - 03:56 pm.

      Serious Candidate

      How can you call Sanders and serious candidate?

      If you think Obama and the moderates / right wingers in Congress have grid locked government, could you even imagine what would happen if Sanders was POTUS?

      Why I compare Sanders and Trump is because both preach to their masses all the “Grand Changes” they will make… And neither explain how they are going to make these massive changes happen in our thankfully divided government. And since their followers seem to be “true believers” they just keep drinking the juice without question.

      It is interesting to watch.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/07/2016 - 09:10 am.

        Well…

        Some of us understand how our government works so we don’t need an explanation from our candidates. In short, our legislators pass laws, the executives sign or veto those laws, and then change happens accordingly. I know some people think there’s some magic involved somewhere along the line but it’s really just democracy.

        The difference between Trump and Sanders is that most of Trumps proposed laws are actually unconstitutional, while many of Sanders proposals have already been passed on the state level. MN for instance is working on a single payer system, CA has had free tuition for state residents for decades, two states have already passed $15 MW, etc. No magic, people just voted for it, strange that… you get what you vote for… who knew?

  19. Submitted by Jim Million on 04/10/2016 - 10:12 am.

    Bi-Polar/Partisan Amnesia

    A malady of immediacy exacerbated by limited retrospection.

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