Who knows what any candidate besides Trump is saying?
Very few members of the public, that’s for sure. Because the media aren’t bothering to report anything else.
I can’t remember a time in political journalism when the media have been so fixated on one candidate. A candidate that they’re all quick to dismiss by saying “he’ll never get the Republican nomination” and “he’ll never run as a third-party candidate.” But Donald Trump gets non-stop coverage nonetheless.
Donald Trump gives a meandering speech where he once again released his inner 6th grader and starts calling other candidates nasty and degrading names, even giving out Sen. Lindsey Graham’s cell phone number, and the star of Duck Dynasty loved it (and that’s newsworthy because … ? Oh, that’s right — because it’s about Trump). The speech is carried live on cable news and leads much of the political coverage that evening and the next morning.
Donald Trump goes to the border wearing a silly hat over his silly hair and repeats falsehoods about the U.S.-Mexican border. Local officials appear with him, even as they repudiate his false claims over border dangers — border city Laredo, Texas, has drastically lower murder and crime rates than other cities, as do other cities along the border, according to FBI figures. The event is again carried live on cable news and again leads the news cycle.
And the media can’t — or won’t — stop giving Trump air time or ink.
The usual caveats apply: “It’s like watching a train wreck.” On the Daily Show, Jon Stewart called Trump his “summer fling.”
Respected political prognosticator Charlie Cook has a piece in the National Journal not about the candidates as a whole, but some general scenarios about possible outcomes of the 2016 election. But the headline still had to be Trump clickbait: “Trump-Free Scenarios for 2016.”
“Time for some straight talk: We in the media love Donald Trump,” writes Paul Waldman of The American Prospect in an online post from The Week. “Trump being a jerk is a feature of his candidacy, not a bug — and we just can’t get enough.”
Why should anyone be surprised that Trump’s poll numbers still lead the pack, even after the media and other Republicans tut-tutted about his diss of Sen. John McCain’s status as a war hero because of his five years as a POW at the Hanoi Hilton? The public isn’t hearing about anyone else.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich jumped into the race, and his announcement was treated as an afterthought by most news organizations. Other candidates, desperate for attention to try to meet the top-10 threshold set by Fox News for the first GOP debate on Aug. 6, are trying new tricks like taking a chain saw to the tax code (Sen. Rand Paul), trying to guess the political affiliations of Star Trek captains (Sen. Ted Cruz), or showing multiple ways to destroy a cell phone (Graham). Dude — you could have just gotten a new number.
When’s the last time you heard of a policy position by Carly Fiorina? A proposal from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal? Others with day jobs in the Senate, like Sen. Marco Rubio, show up to slam the Iran nuclear agreement, then cut out. The most coverage candidates get these days is by giving their reactions to the Trumpster.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb! Bush got fleeting mentions when (a) his campaign announced it had raised over $114 million, mostly through his super PAC, and (b) he said he wanted to “phase out” Medicare. Not the best way to win senior votes, Jeb!
How about Democratic candidates? Sen. Bernie Sanders is drawing record crowds — more than any other candidate — and he still gets scant coverage, even when he makes serious proposals like raising the minimum wage. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is giving a series of speeches and answering questions on the economy, police actions against African-Americans, and racism. Those are usually buried on inside pages.
“So while the Republican Party is hoping desperately that somehow Trump will just go away,” Waldman writes, “he’s not going anywhere until he’s good and ready. And as long as he can turn on the news and see his face, he’s a happy man.” And nothing makes a narcissist like Trump happy like seeing his face everywhere, just like he sees his names on his buildings.
Just about every news organization is running stories about how the media are responsible for Trump’s rise. “Blame The Media For Donald Trump’s Rise In The Polls,” scolds Huffington Post. “How the Media Is Fueling Donald Trump’s Campaign,” reports NBC. “Why is Trump surging? Blame the media,” trumpets the Washington Post.
I’ve got another idea. Instead of running stories on his candidacy and whose fault it is that he’s become so omnipresent, why don’t you just ignore him — at least for a while? Or cover another candidate for a change?