Donald J. Trump, Trump Tower, photographers
Photographers capture former president Donald J. Trump leaving Trump Tower in Manhattan. Photo credit: © Jorge Estrellado/TheNEWS2 via ZUMA Press Wire

Donald Trump claims the press is the “enemy of the people.” However, once again, the media is proving to be an ally for him.

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On Tuesday afternoon, Americans watched as an event unfolded that could decide not only the Republican nomination but also the 2024 presidential election. No, we’re not talking about a former president being indicted for violating the Espionage Act — but rather how the media covered it.

As soon as the three big networks interrupted their regular programming to show overhead footage of Donald Trump’s motorcade, it became obvious that the media is going to blow this again.

The breathless, nonstop coverage by ABC, CBS, and NBC, as well as the big cable news networks, showed that they have learned nothing (well, perhaps Fox learned that it can help Trump).

Yes, it was a historic event. But there are better ways to cover it than essentially ceding the visuals to Trump.

Because that’s what happened.

Trump must have loved those shots of highways being blocked off to allow his motorcade to make its way to the courthouse unimpeded. It looked presidential, and that’s exactly the image he wants to portray.

Now, the producers of these broadcasts might argue that there really wasn’t anything else to put on the screen, but then why show anything? Why not, for example, read the indictment aloud a couple of times? It’s obvious that most Americans won’t take the time to study it, and certainly not those who are Trump supporters.

This was an opportunity to provide an actual public service.

But these media organizations are not in the public service business; they are in the money-making business.

The Media Fails as Vanguard of Democracy

And Trump is still the main draw for ratings.

To be fair, a couple of anchors seemed to realize that they were once again playing into the former president’s hands.

On CNN, Jake Tapper told his producers to stop showing clips of Trump being celebrated in a Cuban restaurant following the arraignment.

Later, on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow said her network would not show footage of Trump’s speech because it was all just going to be a bunch of lies. If only that were the measuring stick, then we’d never have to listen to the former president again.

At the end of the day, an event that should have been devastating for Trump if everybody had just stuck to the facts turned out to work in his favor.

Once again, he managed to manipulate the media into giving him a free platform for his lies and demagoguery, he got to look confident and presidential, and there was no airtime left for his rivals for the Republican nomination (apart from businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, who said all GOP candidates should commit to pardoning Trump if he is convicted).

The fact that he took a bunch of top-secret documents and refused to return them almost became an afterthought.

In other words, it was just like 2016 again, when the media gifted Trump billions of dollars (between $2 billion and $6 billion, depending on whom you ask) in free coverage.

And forgotten was 2020, when the media, and the American people, finally grew tired of his act.

But, apparently, absence does make the heart grow fonder, and the media just can’t seem to be able to quit Trump.

Because, while every serious journalist knows that he is bad for the country, he is undeniably good for business.


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a senior editor for Politics and director of the Mentor Apprentice Program at WhoWhatWhy. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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