You can tell there's not much new here just from the title of the column: "The Mutual Dependence of Donald Trump and the News Media." Yes, this again: Trump is the press's fault.
The imbalance in coverage has ... led to spectacles like the one on March 8, when all of the cable news networks showed Mr. Trump’s 45-minute-long primary night news conference in full. While Mrs. Clinton’s victory speech went uncovered, Mr. Trump used the time to hawk Trump Steaks and Trump Wine. That was new.I'm somewhat sympathetic to this argument -- Trump is on TV way too much for my taste. But I do hate-watch him sometimes, so I suppose I'm part of the problem. (Eventually, I guarantee you, the rise of Trump is going to be blamed on hip urbane hate-watchers like me.)
One imagines that if CBS and ABC had 24-hour news channels, they would have gone along for the embarrassing ride, too.
Here's the problem: When you blame the media for covering Trump too much, you're acting as if that automatically guaranteed him votes. Starting from his campaign announcement, he was a major-party candidate, and so he deserved some coverage -- and then when he shot to the top of the polls, it was understandable that he got more coverage. But nobody forced voters to like what they were hearing. When you blame the press, you exonerate those voters. They couldn't help it! They were force-fed Trump!
No, they weren't. Every time he was on TV, they watched him because he's the kind of candidate they like.
Understandably, Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN Worldwide, was beaming when I saw him at a lunch with other reporters last week. “These numbers are crazy -- crazy,” he said, referring to the ratings. How crazy? Two-hundred-thousand-dollars-per-30-second-spot crazy on debate nights, 40 times what CNN makes on an average night, according to Advertising Age. That’s found money.But Rutenberg takes this a step further. Trump is the media's fault rather than GOP voters' fault, and the media is innocent because it's hard out there for a non-Fox news outlet:
It certainly has to take the sting out of the criticism that CNN has handed its schedule over to Mr. Trump.
[Trump is] taking advantage of a momentous and insecure time in American media.So Trump's rise isn't the media's fault, really, because the media is just desperate. The media is drowning, and Trump is a life preserver.
News organizations old and new are jockeying for survival in a changing order, awash in information and content but absent the pillars they could always rely upon, like reliable advertising models, secure places on the cable dial or old-fashioned newsstand sales.... Things are changing so fast that no news organization knows whether the assumptions it’s making to secure its future will prove correct.
In that environment, Mr. Trump brings a welcome, if temporary, salve. He delivers ratings and clicks, and therefore revenue, which makes him the seller in a seller’s market.
... he is using his ratings power to push the news media to break from its mission of holding the powerful, or really just him, accountable. In other words, to loosen its standards.
So no one is really at fault. Rutenberg's fellow journalists are just doing what they have to do to survive. And voters are incapable of rejecting what they see and hear.
I disagree. Yes, the media should reduce the Trump coverage -- maybe we should start boycotting advertisers? -- but he's on all the time because he's popular. And why is he popular? Because Republican voters are angry rageoholics. The media is giving them what they want. But why do they want it?