The Republican candidates do not miss a chance to inveigh against the “liberal media,” accusing the press of running a “conspiracy” and going as far as blasting the debate moderators – in the words of Sen. Ted Cruz – as “left wing operatives.”
In what could only be dismissed as a pathetic foible, the Republican candidates went on to demand easier and more favorable questions and cast sharp aspersions on the practice of fact checking their statements. But the biggest irony is another: to this day, one of those presidential wannabes, Donald Trump, received more free airtime and more space in newspapers, the bulk of the “liberal media,” than any presidential candidate in a very long time. What is even more disconcerting is that Trump is not effectively taken to task when he advances ideas and proposals that denigrate a large number of Americans, especially those who are at the bottom rung of the social and political ladder in the United States.
Not one of Trump’s outrageous policy proposals – such as banning all Muslims from entering the country or expelling 11 million Hispanic people living in the United States illegally – has any chance of being enacted into the laws of the land. And yet the American press gives the real estate tycoon a free pass and reports the tough talk that comes out of Trump’s loud and scurrilous mouth without challenging it but with an abundance of air and newsprint reporting that is intended to improve ratings and circulation rather than offer the electorate a fair and realistic picture of political and social trends.
Traditionally, Americans are smart enough to know that it is foolhardy to expect objectivity from the press; the best that can be hoped from the media of our age – grossly distorted by the predominance of television – is fairness in judging events and political protagonists. No such hope can be fulfilled today when even the prospect of reserving some fairness in media reporting is compromised by the humungous lack of fairness on the part of the candidates. What a large portion of the American public would like to see is a modicum of decency that should put to shame the vicious attacks on political adversaries besmirched with touches of pornography. Partisan politics never reached the bottom of that cesspool. The unseemly row about sexism that envelops Trump and Hillary Clinton goes way beyond partisan politics. In Europe, where politicians practice their share of illicit sex, their dirty linen does not get washed in public the way they are in America.
In addition, by playing up Trump’s bombastic penchant for destruction in foreign lands the media do not stop and reflect on how such belligerency can lead to a credible foreign policy. Trump gets the benefit of the press reporting each hyperbolic utterance in his campaign stops to the point that one may suspect that the media behaves this way simply because it is aware that a large number of Republican primary voters see eye to eye with the Donald. There is no question that such a bloc exists but it is deplorable that the “liberal media” fail in living up to the journalistic responsibility of addressing the utter inability of Trump and others to discuss the national security issues in realistic terms.The sympathy shown by Trump toward Russian President Putin, with an implicit justification of his dangerous actions in Europe and the Middle East, is symptomatic of Trump’s detachment from reality.
When the media do not query the candidates, and Trump in particular, about the consequences of their pronouncements in the real world, it relieves him of his duty of informing the citizen about the direction that his future government may take in the near future. The sexual politics do not bode well for national security, a priority that must be discussed and decided in the proper political context.
One thought on “Press failing in coverage of Trump”
Well said, Marino. Your commentary reminds me that Greek philosophers believed democracy to be a dangerous form of govt because it requires the active and thoughtful engagement of citizenry. We don’t have it and I am fearful of where this low brow populist movement is dragging us.