Media thinks it has been too nice to Trump

Adam Ellwanger:
It is high time for the media to learn some lessons from 2016. But which lesson does Bruni refer to? That the media need to return to their disinterested objectivity in election coverage? Far from it. A close read of the passage above shows that Bruni (and, by extension, the New York Times) thinks the problem was that the media were too objective in 2016. Bruni would have us believe that had news outlets taken an even more partisan approach to covering Trump, Hillary might have won. In short, that's hogwash. I'm not even sure if even Bruni believes it. Either he does, which means he is delusional, or he doesn't, in which case he is using the pages of the Times to advance revisionist history to conceal the real role that "news" organizations like the Times played in Trump's election.

It's time to set the record straight.

When Trump announced his candidacy, virtually no one on the right took it seriously. But the news media did – for strategic reasons, as I will show. Had the news media not given Trump wall-to-wall coverage in the early phases of the campaign, he likely would have been the Wesley Clark or the Herman Cain of the 2016 cycle – an early flavor-of-the-week candidate who quickly faded once the primaries began. Like most in-the-know kingmakers on the right, the left and the media (correctly, at first) believed that Trump was fundamentally unable to win the presidency. And so, the legacy media set to work ensuring that Trump was the Republican nominee. The goal was to guarantee that Hillary would face the weakest candidate possible. That is why, as Bruni noted, "the number of stories about Trump in the country's most influential newspapers and on its principal newscasts significantly exceeded what his support in polls at the time justified." That is why "those stories were predominantly positive." And that is why people on the right were so chagrined by the media's attempt to fix the nomination process – candidates like Rubio and Cruz, who were thought to be good matches for Hillary, couldn't get any traction in the press.

The tone of Trump's coverage changed on a dime once he had secured the nomination. Ever since they managed to turn a neophyte named Barack Obama into a presidential frontrunner after a single great speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention, the elite media have recognized the power they have in influencing public opinion and, in turn, determining the outcome of public elections. Beyond that, ever since Obama's 2008 victory, those media outlets have led themselves to believe that it is their obligation to influence our elections. After all – as they show almost daily – they know what's best for us.

By the time of his nomination, the legacy media had built Trump a movement. They had no idea how difficult it would be to dismantle before November. But they tried. Mightily. Does anyone with a brain believe that mainstream news outlets just happened to discover the "pussy-grabbing" tapes three weeks before the election? If you are a rational person, you know that they were aware of those tapes well before the nomination. So why didn't we learn about them in February? Or March? Or April? The answer is obvious, even to hacks like Frank Bruni. The tapes weren't useful to the news media's agenda in April. But they were useful in October – just not useful enough.
After Trump got the nomination the NY Times published a frontpage opinion piece saying that they should not be fair in their treatment of Trump coverage because he was far too dangerous to their liberal agenda.  They certainly lived up to that in their post-nomination coverage of Trump and do so to this day.  If a Democrat had accomplished what Trump has since he was sworn in, the media would be calling him a "great man" instead of joining in a coup attempt against him.


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