Comedy Central's Noah Unleashes on Media for 'Viral' Trump Coverage

Comedy Central's Trevor Noah went on a seven and a half minute rant against the news media on Monday's Daily Show for their responsibility for the rise of Donald Trump: "The media loves Trump, because covering Trump makes the media money." Noah played up that "ABC's World News Tonight gave Donald Trump just 15 minutes less coverage than it gave Ebola — which is insane. Well, it sort of makes sense, because like Ebola, Trump goes viral...and makes you bleed from your eyes and ears." [video below]

The host zeroed in on CBS CEO Les Moonves's recent admission that because of Trump, "this is going to be a very good year for us. Sorry, it's a terrible thing to say, but bring it on, Donald." He continued by underlining that "what he said about CBS is what everybody in the business is thinking," and emphasized this point with five soundbites of media personalities making similar statements.

Noah twice made his point about the media making money off of Trump, and contended that "it's equally true whether they are covering news events, like debates; or non-events that just contain the word 'Trump.'" He also criticized news outlets for dropping covering "more important" news stories, such as "the autopsy report of a young black woman who died in police custody" (Sandra Bland), and hyping the billionaire candidate instead.

The Comedy Central personality later spotlighted how "the news media has been giving Trump free infomercials — which he turns into what look like actual infomercials....The media has given Trump $2 billion worth of free coverage. That's the equivalent of every commercial in the Super Bowl for the last five years."

The transcript of Trevor Noah's opening monologue from Comedy Central's The Daily Show on March 21, 2016:

TREVOR NOAH: Tonight, we're going to look at whether part of the responsibility for Donald Trump's rise lies with news media. Now, it's a complicated question with a lot — I'm just playing, the answer is yes. Yes, the media is responsible. Take for example, CBS, the biggest of the four broadcast networks — and, you know, it has the interests of every day Americans at heart, because it gives a voice to not one, but Two Broke Girls. They also a huge news division — including their national network and many local TV and radio stations. So with Donald Trump turning American democracy into a cross between Wrestlemania and Mad Max, how is this election going from CBS's perspective? Well, at a media investors conference last month, the CEO of CBS, Les Moonves — he gave us his answer.

LES MOONVES: The money is rolling in and this is — this is fun. They're not even talking at issues. They're throwing bombs at each other, and I think the advertising reflects that. You know, this is going to be a very good year for us. Sorry, it's a terrible thing to say, but bring it on, Donald.

NOAH: (laughs) Yes, that's a terrible thing to say. Why is it when people say, this is a terrible thing to say, they don't stop talking? (audience laughs) That's a big hint that you probably shouldn't finish your sentence. It's almost like when people say, this might be — this might sound racist but — yeah, just stop talking; just stop talking. You can end it there. I'm not saying cannibalism should be allowed; but yeah, stop talking — just stop there. I'm not saying Bill Cosby is a saint, but — no, no, just stop there. And Les Moonves — he's no fool. What he said about CBS is what everybody in the business is thinking.

ALISYN CAMEROTA (from CNN's New Day on August 26, 2015): Everybody is covering Trump because it gets great ratings.

ANNA KOOIMAN (from Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends: Weekend on January 24, 2016): Donald Trump equals ratings gold.

BRIAN STELTER (from CNN's Reliable Sources on September 12, 2015): Fox's first GOP debate this season shattered every record all at once with 24 million viewers.

AMY HOLMES (from Fox Business Network broadcast on October 16, 2015): That's making a lot of money for the networks.

CHRIS HAYES (from MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes on September 17, 2015): CNN reportedly charged 40 times its usual rate for ads during the three-hour extravaganza.

NOAH: Forty times the usual rate — that's $200,000 for a 30-second ad. I mean, I guess that explains why Wolf Blitzer has new rims, you know? (audience laughs) Damn, Blitzer. Back at it again with the news van. So whenever the media cover Donald Trump, they make a lot of money; and it's equally true whether they are covering news events, like debates; or non-events that just contain the word 'Trump.'

WOLF BLITZER (from CNN's AC360 on September 16, 2015): Hold on a second; hold on a second. Here's Donald Trump I think — a picture of him. Here he is.

ALEX WITT (from MSNBC's Weekends with Alex Witt on January 30, 2016): That is an airfield that we may see the Trump plane land.

BROOKE BALDWIN (from CNN Newsroom on March 3, 2016): We've been watching and waiting for the better half of a half hour here, as Donald Trump is supposed to stand behind that podium in front of those four American flags and speak.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD (from CNN's Legal View on February 29, 2016): This is where the Republican front-runner Donald Trump is about to appear from behind those black curtains.

NOAH: Are you (expletive deleted) me? You keep the camera on the curtain in case they miss Donald Trump's entrance? Trust me: no one has ever missed a Donald Trump entrance, ever. I can guarantee you: no one has been in the room with Donald Trump and said, oh, Donald, I didn't see you come in. I didn't see that. Yeah, he's the opposite of a ninja. That's what Donald Trump is. You know when he's coming in. (makes drum noises) You can cover something else. (audience laughs and applauds) But maybe, maybe these were — you know, slow news days. Nothing else going on. It's not like the media turns its back on other, perhaps, more important news — like the autopsy report of a young black woman who died in police custody.

BALDWIN (from CNN Newsroom on July 23, 2015): We're listening here to this news conference being given by a number of officials there in Texas in the wake of the death of Sandra Bland; and they're about to use some photographs to make some examples from the autopsy. So we're going pull away from this right now. We're going to come back to it momentarily; but I just want to pivot to Donald Trump there about to speak.

NOAH: Look, people: Sandra Bland will be dead forever; but Donald Trump only speaks into a microphone 23 times a day, so we're going to go to that now. It's gotten so extreme that last week, one high-placed source observed that Trump can do just 'a tweet on something, something, not even significant, and they break to their news within seconds' — adding, it's — quote, 'the craziest thing.' And that source should know, because that source's name is Donald Trump. Even he thinks the way he gets covered is insane — and that's from a guy who sees waterboarding as foreplay. So the media loves Trump, because covering Trump makes the media money. But as I've learned from American drug commercials, there are some side effects.

STELTER (from CNN Newsroom on February 28, 2016): Without — without television networks, websites, and newspapers, Donald Trump would probably not be the front-runner.

DYLAN BYERS (from CNN's New Day on March 17, 2016): You are effectively giving him infomercials.

NOAH: That's right. The news media has been giving Trump free infomercials — which he turns into what look like actual infomercials. Look at that (expletive deleted), what is he selling there? What is he doing? And this was the statistic that blew my mind — because if Donald Trump actually had to pay for all that advertising the media is giving him for free, guess how much $50 frozen steaks that would set him back?

JON VAUSE (from CNN Newsroom on March 17, 2016): He has done so incredibly well out of all this free media coverage he's got. The New York Times looked at this, and they came up with this incredible figure — almost $2 billion over the last nine months or so.

BYERS (from CNN Newsroom on March 17, 2016): That eclipses all of his other Republican competitors combined.

NOAH: The media has given Trump $2 billion worth of free coverage. That's the equivalent of every commercial in the Super Bowl for the last five years. Yeah; yeah. And frankly, America would be better off with President Puppymonkeybaby. (audience laughs) That thing is creepy as (expletive deleted), but I'll still choose it as a president. I would vote President Puppymonkeybaby as my president. (audience cheers and applauds)

I mean, here's how over the top this is: ABC's World News Tonight gave Donald Trump just 15 minutes less coverage than it gave Ebola — which is insane. Well, it sort of makes sense, because like Ebola, Trump goes viral — yeah — and makes you bleed from your eyes and ears. So maybe more than ever before, the news media is awarding entertainment, and helping to put the very-entertaining Donald Trump close to the Republican nomination. And everyone sees it; everyone sees it.

Remember when Marco Rubio spent a week talking about Donald Trump's tiny bing bing? Yeah, remember that? People were saying, why would Rubio stoop down to that level? Well, Marco told us why.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (from Fox News Channel's The Kelly File on March 09, 2016): Reality TV has infected our politics.

RUBIO (from Marc 12, 2016 interview): For months, I have been giving speeches on public policy, and nobody paid a lot of attention; and the minute that I mentioned anything personal about Donald Trump, every network cut in live to my speeches, hoping I would say more of it; so then, they could go on the air and say, oh, this is so sad — subtitle: we're going to keep giving it coverage because it's goods for our ratings.

NOAH: Boring! Talk about Trump's dick, you dirty bastard! (audience laughs) I'm sorry, Rubio. So the next time you see Donald Trump on your television, or Donald Trump's airplane or his empty podium, you'll know why. It's not necessarily because he has earned that air time — and the people who are giving it to him are well aware of the consequences — which brings us back to CBS's Les Moonves, who may be not well intending to, was clearly speaking for the entire news media industry when he summed up why companies like his are promoting Donald Trump the way they are.

MOONVES: Who would have thought that this circus would come to town? It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS.

NOAH: Yeah. The news media are supposed to keep the system healthy; but this year, they're like a doctor who says, I hate to see all these patients coming in with cancer; but I have to admit, it's been really good for my practice. Oh, and breaking news, here's another cigarette.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center