Life is full of irony, and the recent presidential election is no exception. The irony is that, although they were in the tank for Hillary, the media were responsible for Trump’s victory. Does that sound like a self-contradiction? Let me explain.
First, the media gave Trump an extraordinary amount of free airtime. The New York Times reported that Trump spent less on TV advertising—the single biggest expenditure for a campaign—than Bush, Rubio, Sanders, Clinton, Cruz, Christie, or Kasich. Bush spent 82 million. Clinton spent 30 million. Trump spent a paltry 10 million, but as of March 15, 2016, he had received 2 billion dollars worth of free media attention. That is more than the total for all the other candidates from both major parties.
“Donald Trump’s campaign for president has received more nightly news attention than all the Democratic campaigns combined,” reported CNN. “Donald Trump is everywhere,” said The Atlantic. “The Republican nominee is all anyone can talk about. Whether this is because the media is doing its duty or because news organizations are capitalizing on Trump’s bombast for ratings and traffic is a matter of debate.” According to The Tyndall Report, Trump is “by far the most newsworthy storyline of campaign 2016, accounting for more than a quarter of all coverage” on the evening newscasts of CBS, NBC, and ABC.Read more