For the past six months, Donald Trump has been the top political story in virtually every newscast. Infatuated by his provocative style, and the ratings it accrued, the media lost all sense of balance. The guy was fun. He animated the circus of American Politics. Exhaustive journalistic attention lent legitimacy to his antics. Now, Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee.
Data supports our collective experience that Trump dominated the media. He ‘bought’ less coverage than any significant candidate; less than half that of Clinton or Sanders; only a fraction of what Cruz, Rubio, or Bush spent. Yet his ’earned’ (i.e. free) coverage is more than twice any other candidate.
The humor of his flaming orange hair and inflammatory tongue is wearing thin. Capitalizing on the largest mass murderer in our nation to stoke immigration fears and denouncing a ‘Mexican’ judge presiding over a lawsuit against Trump University is both incendiary and self-serving. Judge Gonzalo Curiel is a U.S citizen, born here. So was Omar Marteen.
Trump’s response to journalists who question too close is to shut them out. He recently took away the news credentials of The Washington Post reporters, adding to a growing list of banned news organizations that range from Huffington Post, to BuzzFeed, to the Des Moines Register.
The cynic in me finds humor in this spectacle. The media made Donald Trump and now they’re getting their just dessert. Are we surprised to learn that if you are not Donald Trump’s blind friend, you are his sworn enemy? This is not a man given to nuanced perspective.
However, my cynicism evaporates in the face of real threats to the foundation of our great nation. And I have come to believe that Donald Trump threatens our fundamental freedoms – including freedom of the press.
The Fourth Estate abdicated their responsibility to fair and objective reporting during the Presidential primary campaigns. They allowed splash to trump substance. Shame on them for enabling Donald Trump’s politics of division and fear because he made such good copy.
The only appropriate response to Donald Trump’s ban on The Washington Post and other news outlets at his events is for all news organizations to stop covering them. Substitute the portion of the newscast typically filled with his rhetoric with a statement. “We will not cover Donald Trump’s campaign until he invites all legitimate news organizations who wish to attend.”
This won’t happen. There is no more solidarity among news organizations than there is among other groups in our society. But Trump evictions will affect the reporters who remain. They will grow cautious. If they don’t tote the Trump line, they’ll be next. Coverage of Donald Trump will be publicity rather than journalism, which is pretty much what’s its been throughout the campaign.
I am much more disappointed in our media than I am with Donald Trump. He’s just being Donald Trump. It’s the media who’s facilitated turning the acerbic host of The Apprentice into a presidential contender.
Still, it’s time for me, for all of us, to speak up on behalf of the media, the immigrants, the judges, the solid citizens whom Donald Trump denigrates. We must safeguard the freedoms our forefathers created and our fathers defended. We may not like the alternatives offered for president in 2016, but no other candidate shows such callous disregard for our basic freedoms. Speak out against Donald Trump.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.