Donald Trump, the Media’s American Idol

Donald Trump likes to boast about how little he’s spent on his campaign compared to his primary opponents. That may be true. But let’s be honest here; Trump gets millions of dollars in free advertising because the mainstream media is obsessed with him. They’re searching for ratings, and they’ve found their proverbial cash cow.

It has been extraordinarily difficult for other Republicans – consistent and proven conservatives like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio – to compete with Trump because of the media’s fixation on him. That’s the media’s prerogative. Perhaps, though, their motives aren’t necessarily journalistic. The coverage seems almost politically strategic because they believe Trump would be easier for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders to beat. Surprise! The media is pretty much a publicity arm of the Democratic National Committee. And, besides, most television news networks now resemble entertainment programming rather than any actual informational content.

Trump has proven the adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Although much of the media attention he has been given has been negative, the constant repetition of his name, face, and brand has clearly helped him more than the substance of the reporting has hurt him. Meanwhile, substantive, policy-driven messages from other candidates have been drowned out so spectacularly, that we have witnessed a noticeable lowering of tone from all the candidates, with the most recent debates devolving into little more than shouting matches. But what else can one expect when the media teaches candidates that the only way to get noticed is with name-calling and hyperbole.