Campaign watch: Kristof says press corps empowered Trump!

MONDAY, MARCH 28, 2016

Big cable star says that's nuts:
In yesterday's New York Times, Nicholas Kristof stated the obvious. The upper-end press corps, "television in particular," has empowered Candidate Trump.

By now, almost everyone has noticed this fact. Here's the way Kristof started:
KRISTOF (3/17/16): Those of us in the news media have sometimes blamed Donald Trump’s rise on the Republican Party’s toxic manipulation of racial resentments over the years. But we should also acknowledge another force that empowered Trump: Us.

I polled a number of journalists and scholars, and there was a broad (though not universal) view that we in the media screwed up.
Our first big failing was that television in particular handed Trump the microphone without adequately fact-checking him or rigorously examining his background, in a craven symbiosis that boosted audiences for both.

“Trump is not just an instant ratings/circulation/ clicks gold mine; he’s the motherlode,” Ann Curry, the former “Today” anchor, told me. “He stepped on to the presidential campaign stage precisely at a moment when the media is struggling against deep insecurities about its financial future. The truth is, the media has needed Trump like a crack addict needs a hit.”
By now, many people have noticed this problem with the way Trump has been enabled. Many folk have alleged an unlovely motive:

“We all know it’s about ratings, and Trump delivers,” Kristof quotes Larry Sabato saying. Curry said TV orgs need those ratings at this time the same way crack addicts need crack.

Kristof goes on to say this: "It’s not that we shouldn’t have covered Trump’s craziness, but that we should have aggressively provided context in the form of fact checks and robust examination of policy proposals."

By now, almost everyone has noted the problems with the way Candidate Trump has been treated by TV news orgs. In part, this involves the amount of time devoted to him and his pointless events. It also involves the servile way cable and network stars have behaved when they interview Trump.

Many people have offered the explanation Kristof attributes to Curry and Sabato: TV orgs have pandered to Trump because they make tons of money in the process. That's why it was surprising to see a major cable star play dumb about this well-known idea during last Tuesday night's election coverage.

In real time, we noticed this cable star making this play. Later, we even went back and transcribed her remarks, which we'd almost have to suggest were less than obsessively honest.

As a courtesy, we decided to overlook this latest transgression by this major star. Then we saw that the Washington Post's Eric Wemple had discussed the same peculiar remarks at his media watchdog site. Wemple even posted video of this peculiar exchange.

Have TV news orgs over-covered and pandered to Trump as a way to make money? Last Tuesday night, a former Cruz staffer, Sarah Flores, basically said just that.

Many others had already said that. But when Flores said it, the major cable star in question jumped in to vouch for the motives of her corporate owners.

As we enter the discussion, Flores has just complained that cable news endlessly covered Trump's town halls but ignored events by his competitors. Our major star jumped in to explain that her glorious corporate bosses had only the most upright motives:
MAJOR CABLE STAR (3/22/16): That just means that nobody else in the field was good at competing with him on those terms.

FLORES: Or that cable news cared more about their ratings than the democracy that they were reporting about, where you look at—

I mean, $2 billion in earned media isn’t just that he was better at capturing earned media.

MAJOR CABLE STAR: The root word of "news" is the word "new." The reason that the newsssss spent a lot time covering Donald Trump, more than it's spent covering other candidates, is that every time he opened his mouth, he made some sort of controversial comment that changed the news cycle. And so, people ended up following him to do that.

The media wasn’t rooting for him to become president by doing that. They were following him because he was driving a good media strategy. No other Republican even competed with him on that for a second, which is a competitive failure, not something that you can say the media chose the candidate.

FLORES: Well then we've set up an incentive system moving forward where I don't think you're going to like the candidates you're going to see.
In the highlighted statement, Flores suggests that TV news orgs pandered to Trump as a way to make money. "Cable news cared more about their ratings than the democracy that they were reporting about," she heinously said.

In response, our big cable star decided to murder a straw man.

"The media wasn’t rooting for him to become president," she rather haughtily told Flores. She was responding to a claim Flores hadn't voiced–to a claim that virtually no one has ever made.

This big cable star jumped in that night to reassure liberal viewers. There's nothing to look at here, she said. Cable news has been covering Trump because he's so newsworthy!

Flores suggested it's about the money. Our big star rejected a different claim.

For many years, we've told you that this major star just doesn't seem obsessively honest.

Last Tuesday night, with great assurance, she spoke on behalf of the firm. Kristof, Sabato, Curry, the others? All of them wrong, just so wrong!


  1. Ironically, by writing about how the media gave Trump disproportionate coverage, the media are continuing to talk about Trump, rather than his Republican rivals.

    1. Ironically, by writing about the media covering how they covered Trump, Somerby undercuts the premise that the guild silence rule is studiously observed.

  2. "In real time, we noticed this cable star making this play. Later, we even went back and transcribed her remarks, which we'd almost have to suggest were less than obsessively honest.

    As a courtesy, we decided to overlook this latest transgression by this major star. Then we saw that the Washington Post's Eric Wemple had discussed the same peculiar remarks at his media watchdog site. Wemple even posted video of this peculiar exchange."

    Bob, announcing that he observed Rachel Maddow making a fool of herself at 1:46 in the morning, and even made a trnscript of it, but decided not to say anything out of "courtesy."

    HA,HA,HA,HA,HA,HA...Horse manure.

    But thanks for invoking our own Rev. Dimmesdale as a starting point.

    1. Of course it helps that NewsBusters was as equally concerned as Bob and poste a transcript several days ago. just in case Bob failed to transcribe something he would overlook out of courtesy to those he too an oath to treat with "contempt."

  3. Because the media have been struggling financially and have enabled Trump to obtain ratings, this situation illustrates another impact of the way we fund elections on the outcome of those supposedly democratic processes.

    Going back to the fairness doctrine and requiring candidates to purchase additional time, instead of gifting Trump with extra exposure to boost ratings, would be a start. The extra money would help the media and Trump would be put on a more equal footing with his competitors (who have ALL complained about the unequal exposure). More importantly, the media would not be in the position of choosing our candidates as they seek their own financial gain. That they can now do this is outrageous, independent of Trump's merits as a candidate.

    Even Bernie hasn't talked about this aspect of campaign finance because he has benefitted from the unfair coverage according Hillary Clinton by the media, as they pursue that circus, again to increase ratings by ginning up fake scandals.

    The NYT, as it makes those choices of who to hire and what to print, has favored its own financial self-interest. It has clearly not made decision based on what will increase the quality of product provided to its readers. Concerns about the role of the media as a check and balance in our Democracy are way down the list, something presumably only discussed ironically or to visiting high school students. Ideals are nowhere in evidence, even in Kristof's discussion.

    1. @3:44

      The FBI assigned 150 agents to investigate HRC's private email server, Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills and Clinton Foundation. How is that the media "ginning up fake scandals" by reporting facts that are unflattering to HRC? Do you also object to reporting polls that show 64% of registered voters find HRC dishonest and untrustworthy? untrustworthiness at

    2. I object to the media never reporting that those who think the 2nd Amendment is about gun owners fighting the tyranny of the government are authoritarians who will side with the police and military 100% of the time.

      Is it for the same reason they never report that water is wet?

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