Thursday, March 24, 2016


"The Mutual Dependence of Donald Trump and the News Media" is the title of an article published this past Sunday in The New York Times, written by Jim Rutenberg.

The article discusses "the disturbing symbiosis between Mr. Trump and the news media."

"...The situation is unique," Rutenberg writes, "because Mr. Trump is unique.  His pedigree, his demagoguery and his inscrutable platform -- including the proposed mass deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants -- make him a giant story.

But he is also taking advantage of a momentous and insecure time in American media.

News organizations old and new are jockeying for survival in a changing order, awash in information and content but absent the pillars they could always rely upon, like stable advertising models, secure places on the cable dial or old-fashioned newsstand sales. 

I've been struck by just how much uncertainty there is as I've talked to people across the mediasphere....

Things are changing so fast that no news organization knows whether the assumptions it's making to secure its future will prove correct.

In that environment, Mr. Trump brings a welcome, if temporary, salve.  He delivers ratings and clicks, and therefore revenue, which makes him the seller in a seller's market. ...

Just as his success at the polls is pushing the Republican Party to reassess its very identity and break with long-held traditions,

he is using his ratings power to push the news media to break from its mission of holding the powerful,

or really just him

[emphasis by blue collar lit],

accountable.  In other words, to loosen its standards. ...  {end, Jim Rutenberg article excerpt, NYTimes}


Reader Comments:

A. Morris    Dobbs Ferry, NY
In all these endless "discussions" has anybody even thought to ask why it is that media outlets - note I don't say "news" outlets - rely so heavily if not entirely on personalities like Drumpf day after endless day? 

Take another look at Paddy Chayefsky's prescient film "Network".  40 years ago he showed what journalism would look like once corporate decisions were made that news divisions needed to show yearly profits.  This was the turning point

when the media began to place their higher priority on serving up profits to the stockholder as opposed to informing the citizenry. 

The only reason that a media hog like the Donald survives now is because the editorial boards across the country no longer ask "is it important" but rather "will it entertain"?

EdBx    Bronx, NY
Les Moonves said that Trump may not be good for the nation, but he is great for his company (CBS).   We have always known that big media did not care about the national interest.  We did not know one of their leaders would state it so plainly.

Amy R.    Minneapolis
Trump is the latest and perhaps the most extreme manifestation of the

"Dumbing down of America" which I have been lamenting since the early 80's. 

It began after the advent of CNN in 1980. 

Back then 24-hour news was indeed newsworthy.  But then came more outlets and copycat networks. 

After a few years they all ran out of real news stories so they had to fill their hours by sensationalizing everything. 

This was followed by the demise of genuine print journalism and the explosion of celebrity / entertainment news.  Now we live in a celebrity culture.  The media created Donald Trump.  They fed the celebrity culture as they fed the death of real journalism.

Larry Mac    Santa Rosa, CA
Fascinating how the media has encouraged Trump's deft deflection of tough questions by substituting an insult or off the wall comment for specifics.  The media has sought the crowd-pleasing, and advertising-enhancing, over useful news.  The electoral college has been replaced by the gladiatorial.

Jim Bennett   Venice, FL
This is a fine, long overdue analysis. 

The question is:  What to do about the dependency?  In one sense, the "free" advertising Trump is getting takes money away from advertisers and the various media who use them. 

But, in another sense, the present view of media economics is

bastardizing journalistic integrity,

whether electronic or otherwise.  Is it possible to find a new, more creative approach to develop, characterize, and "display" the news that will

renew the function of the Fourth Estate?

NYer    NYC
About time that the Times got around to discussing the symbiotic relationship between Trump and the media!

Weeks ago, NPR documented the disproportionate coverage that Trump gets from the media, who seem far more interested in increasing online clicks or seeing ratings bumps (TV/radio) that they get when Trump is on, than in providing balanced news coverage.

Basically, the media makes money from featuring Trump, so they do it!  And the devil with any quaint idea about their responsibility to cover news fairly and evenly! 

The media has sold out their duty to democracy for a few bucks.


Ben Myers    Harvard, MA
Let's rephrase this. 

Without all the free media publicity from reporting about Trump, he would be nowhere today. 

Trump is of the media, by the media and for the media. 

The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, LA Times, ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS, to name just a few, share the blame for all the reporting of the easy news about Trump. 

There has been no heavy lifting by the media in reporting about him. 

Just hand him a mike, let him talk, let the videotapes roll, cut and paste recorded snippets, write down what is quotable about him, and that's it. 

I give Trump credit for being savvy enough to know this. 

Let's hope someone is savvy enough to keep him from getting elected as POTUS. 

If he is elected, it will be a new low for democracy, and people in other countries will laugh at us for being so stupid.

Kathleen     New York City
Trump is not "news". 

He is a narcissist who craves attention and he gets it by saying crazy things. 

The more outrageous he gets the bigger the typeface. 

All media is directly responsible for what has happened in this election cycle. 

You print and broadcast the worst of what he says that appeals to hopefully a minority of voters who just happen to be going to the polls for primaries.  One can only hope the primaries are not reflective of the general election.

Even worse, all the endless debates just give him more airtime. 

Do we really need so many debates? 

No, we do not. 

The GOP, just say the same crazy things over and over, yielding more headlines and continued coverage.  Bernie & Hilary are not as outrageous so, less coverage.  But oh boy when Hilary makes a public gaffe, hello headlines!

The election process is nothing more than a reality show circus, sensationalized by the media. 

That needs to change immediately and the best way to do it is to

stop the coverage of all the crazy. 

Report on real issues and platforms.  Oh, but duh, less ratings and clicks....  See the problem?

Winston Smith    Crossing America

On super Tuesday CNN covered every candidate's speech, Republican and Democrat, except Bernie Sanders. 

CNN had a 20minute lower third announcing 'Waiting For Trump speech' with a picture of an empty, flag-draped podium, this all while Sanders was giving his speech before 9000 people!  I believe that

the crime by the major media is so egregious and biased that their broadcast licenses should be revoked for a heinous violation

of the public's right to know.  They are nothing less than an American Pravda.

FCC - "as public trustees, broadcast licensees may not intentionally distort the news:  the FCC has stated that "rigging or slanting the news is a most heinous act against the public interest."