Trump would likely not have become president without the help of “the enemies of the people,” as he likes to call reporters, and their symbiotic relationship continues even now.
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Ever since the media began covering a braggadocious New York businessman named Donald Trump, it has done an abysmal job.
For a long time, there was not a lot of harm in that. After all, who cares about some guy who lies about everything and comically pretends to be someone else to advance the narrative that he is rich and successful?
Certainly not the editors of New York tabloids who made loads of money off these stories.
And that’s how a mutually beneficial relationship began.
By covering him as though he were a normal person and not severely mentally ill and a compulsive liar, the media legitimized Trump. And the man who would one day become president has always been good at self-promotion and knowing what people want.
Things would have been okay if Trump had been confined to the gossip columns and appearances on radio shows like that of Howard Stern.
The “shock jock” quickly realized the value of the self-proclaimed real estate tycoon.
“[He was] a great guest because he would say anything that came into his mind. He was completely unfiltered,” Stern said. “He was talking about [how] his daughter was the most attractive woman he’d ever met, and how much he thought she was hot.”
Things got problematic when NBC sat on a tape in which Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women.
Until then, there was really not much harm in that symbiotic partnership because Trump was simply an entertainer who helped sell ads.
However, when his ambitions changed, the way the journalists covered him did not… and it all went downhill from there.
We’re not going to rehash all of the media’s sins that led to the rise of Donald Trump as a politician. But it is clear that he would likely not have become president without the help of “the enemies of the people,” as he likes to call reporters.
At first, journalists deserved a pass. After all, there has never been a presidential candidate with such a blatant disregard for the truth or human decency.
However, once they figured out that Trump was a compulsive liar and a malignant narcissist (which should not have taken them long), they owed their readers and viewers the truth, that he was uniquely unfit for office. They certainly should not have covered him like anybody else. But that’s exactly what they did… to the tune of giving him billions of dollars in free media exposure.
After all, Trump was so polarizing that he continued to be good for business.
The media has never atoned for that sin. In fact, it has made things worse since Trump won the White House by continuously grading him on a curve.
People often marvel at how he can still have so much support after doing and saying things that would have ended anybody else’s political career.
In this regard, the media has a lot of culpability because it failed to make sure that regular Americans knew. Instead, time and again, Trump got a pass; after all, that’s just “Trump being Trump.”
They either did not point out how illegal, egregious, or unacceptable the things he said or did were, or they did not make Trump’s supporters defend them.
In recent days, the former president delivered several examples of this.
First, he suggested that Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, should have been put to death for reaching out to China to assure its leaders that Trump would not start a war in order to cling to power after his loss to Joe Biden.
That should have been the top news for days, and reporters should have made sure that every single Republican is on the record to react to that statement without weaseling out.
And, just as importantly, journalists should not just have “reported” that this happened; they should have explained to their audiences how unacceptable it is and that Trump is an amoral, mentally deranged authoritarian.
That is another one of the media’s failings. When it comes to Trump, too many journalists are mincing words instead of speaking the plain truth.
The second example came on Friday when the former president criticized former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in a speech, only to pause and ask: “How is her husband doing, anybody know?”
Paul Pelosi, of course, was attacked at his home by a Trump supporter armed with a hammer.
Every news outlet in the country should have something to say about that. And that something should be that Trump is a despicable human being who should be locked up in a facility for the mentally ill instead of running for president.
Anybody writing about that speech without saying that is failing at their job… which means just about every news outlet in the country.
The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: Donald Trump caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED), monument (AgnosticPreachersKid / Wikimedia – CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED), and splats (CreatureSH / Pixabay).