Donald Trump: Has media lost its collective mind?

Some media outlets have begun codifying their Trump coverage into Trump sections. Can a morning newsletter named 'Trump Cards' be far behind?

Seth Wenig/AP
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump talks to reporters as he arrives at a fundraising event at a golf course in the Bronx borough of New York on Monday.

Here’s a meta-level pitch for a think piece: Is the US media writing too many think pieces about Donald Trump?

Is there too much press coverage of The Donald? Is the political press failing the US public by covering Mr. Trump’s controversial assertions about immigration as if they were as important as, say, Deflategate?

Yes, this is a mea culpa. Perhaps we have done wrong.

The event that finally jolted us into reality is the realization that some media outlets are formalizing their constant Trumpian coverage into Trump sections. Salon has The Daily Donald, a column which summarizes Trump’s activities everyday in handy digest form. It includes reports on Trump appearances (an audience of 5,000 in Phoenix) and the latest and most pointed Trump criticisms (Rupert Murdoch tweeted that Trump is “wrong” on Mexican immigration).

Surely others will follow this obvious lead. When some legacy mainstream publication starts a morning e-mail newsletter named “Trump Cards” we’ll know things have gone too far.

Critics say this is cheapening US political discourse. Trump is a “carnival barker,” Rem Rieder wrote in USA Today last month. He’s soaking up media bandwidth and reporting firepower that would be better used on legitimate candidates.

Trump “inevitably will hijack the focus away from important issues that need to be aired,” wrote Mr. Rieder.

Others in the GOP race are heartily tired of Trump-related questions. They see them as indicative of the media’s own frenzy, not voter interest.

“You know, enough.... Nobody in the real world asks me about this,” said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday’s “Fox & Friends” when queried about Trump’s latest immigration pronouncements

All that said we believe there’s a legitimate defense of extensive Trump coverage. We could be wrong – and you’ll feel free to tell us so – but we don’t feel too bad about Trump stories.

  • People like to read about The Donald. Trump stories are often derided as “clickbait” – just attempts to dredge up readers. But “clickbait” is just another word for “popular.” Yes, people love to follow Trump’s actions. Should we stop providing them that opportunity because we think it’s bad for them? That sounds patronizing.
  • There's lots of media bandwidth. The media does have the ability to think and write about Donald Trump and John Kasich at the same time, generally speaking. Is Ohio Governor Kasich’s problem that nobody can find out about his candidacy on the Internet? No, it isn’t. Here’s a rough test: type “John Kasich” into Google News and see what turns up. We got 75,000 hits. Sometimes worthy candidates lag in the polls because they don’t excite voters.
  • Trump might affect who wins. Yes, it’s early. At this point, polls are a rough indication more than a real reflection of voter’s intentions. But Trump’s tied for the top in poll averages. That can’t be ignored. Maybe he’ll stay there. Most likely he won’t. Party leaders want him to go away and many Republicans voters don’t approve of him.

That doesn’t mean his influence won’t linger. The animus he’s creating among Hispanics could influence the November vote. At the presidential level the Republican and Democratic parties are so evenly matched that even marginal swings could affect the outcome. And as we’ve noted before, it’s very difficult to put together a GOP path to victory that doesn’t include Florida – a state where almost 23 percent of the population is Latino.

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