Wednesday, December 09, 2015


In some circles, it's an article of faith to this day that Donald Trump is doing well in the polls only because he gets so much media coverage. It ought to be obvious by now that Republican voters actually agree with what he says -- as a new Bloomberg poll notes, 65% of likely Republican primary voters agree with his proposal to bar Muslims from entering the U.S. -- but the notion that Trump is a pure product of media hype persists.

At Slate, Jim Newell argues that the press has actually spoiled Trump's chances of ever becoming president, even as it's made him more popular among GOP voters:
I am of the school that thinks it is the media’s duty to cover a presidential candidate when he or she says crazy things, intentionally or not, and to provide the coverage, even if they crave the attention. Because doing so does not help Trump to the extent that he believes it does. It has, instead, likely helped to seal his doom at one stage or another in the process.

... [Trump is] covered negatively and with extreme scrutiny because he says a lot of awful things. What we’ve found out this year is that a not-insignificant segment of the Republican Party loves the awful things he says and credits him with the “courage” for saying them. Let’s say that group’s about 25 to 30 percent of the party, if the polls are correct. So Trump keeps saying awful things along these lines in order to keep that group happy.

... The reason [other candidates] don’t say these things ... is because they hope at some point to cobble together a majority of Republican delegates and, eventually, a majority of electors. Trump’s behavior makes the people who like him really like him, but they turn off the much bigger chunk of the pie.

The media is enabling Trump -- to hang himself.
Is that true? We'll see.

But if you think that giving a certified right-wing nutjob an overabundance of coverage for jaw-dropping statements is a guarantee of poll dominance, then tell me: Why wasn't Christine O'Donnell elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010?

O'Donnell got huge amounts of national media attention for saying crazy right-wing things. She had very high name recognition. I'm sure even in Delaware she received far more coverage than ... what's his name? The guy she was running against? Oh yeah -- Chris Coons.

Who's now in the Senate.

Christine O'Donnell lost the general election despite massive media coverage because the overall Delaware electorate thought she was an extremist with a screw loose. The same will (we hope) happen to Trump in November 2016, if (as seems likely) he's the Republican nominee.

Huge amounts of publicity aren't everything if you're running for office. People have to like what they hear. Republican voters like what they're hearing about Trump. But that won't matter if the rest of us don't.


AllieG said...

Dear Steve: I'm from Delaware! So I know a little about that election. Delaware has a significant percentage of what used to be called country club Republicans, people who're for lower taxes on them and a free rein for business but otherwise don't think too much about politics. That would be the rest of my family. When O'Donnell won, they didn't give her money and didn't vote for her. Since Delaware has more Democrats than Republicans, that meant she lost.
But Delaware, God bless it, ain't America. It's a pretty blue state these days (was a swing state when I was a kid and even into the late '90s). In most states these days, country club Republicans are thin on the ground -- even at county clubs.

Ten Bears said...

Bingo! The point I've long tried to make: if (as seems likely) [Trump] is the nominee, then the Retards will have thrown another election to the Democrats. I have Republican friends and clients, die-hard, Rotary Club Chamber of Commerce Titans of Their Industries Republican friends and clients who have already told me, knowing as they know that I'll not vote for either, that if it comes down to a choice between Trump and Hillary they'll vote Hillary. Could be bullshit, but I've known some of these guys fifty years, and doubt it.

If (as seems likely) he's the nominee, it'll be yet another harbinger of the painfully slow-motion demise of the Republic Party.

Arthur Mervyn said...

A lot of us thought George W. Bush had a lot of screws loose. And he won over enough Americans to make the election close.

We're about year out from the election and a lot can happen. Like 9/11, the Paris and San Bernardino attacks have helped the Republicans. Add in the uncertainty in the Middle East and the possibility that gas prices could rise and the Democratic nominee could very well have a difficult time.

Despite Christine O'Donnell, I still think that Trump is so popular because of name recognition. Among my own family, all of the other GOP candidates are virtually unknown; maybe Jeb is recognized, but only as GWB's brother. And on cable news, except for the evening lineup on MSNBC, Trump's coverage has been extensive if repetitive and generally wishy-washy in my opinion. (And that's not including Fox, which I don't watch.)

Feud Turgidson said...

Trump's Law:
In any large capitalistic democracy in which most of those entitled to vote can make practical choices among multiple commercially-based news sources in a competitive news market, during any given election cycle, each such news source shall favor covering the single most entertaining and/or intriguing competitor for however so long as that competitor remains credibly able to win, no matter how assiduously the news source may try to do otherwise, or else it forfeits any chance at remaining commercially viable within the context of competition among news sources.

The Cable Corollary:
Any news source that has effectively allowed itself to be used as the platform for whoever turns to out to be the most entertaining and/or intriguing competitor for any materially significant time period preceding the competition, will find itself at first compromised, then manipulated, and finally spurned by that competitor during the course of the competition, whereupon the news source will behave indistinguishably from a betrayed lover.

The High Broder Conceit: Every reporter, pundit or host employed by every competitive news source shall express lament at the excessive news coverage of the said most entertaining and/or intriguing competitor for elected office, while
(a) mostly citing news sources other than which ones that employ them,
(b) liberally sprinkling their lamentations with the word "journalism", and
(c) constantly calling him-or-herself a "journalist".

Grung_e_Gene said...

O'Donnel lost because she was a woman and before Joni Ernst is mentioned, Ernst overcame the anti-woman bias held by all Right-Wingers by having hog balls in one hand and flag-waving her military career in the other.