It’s often noted that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the most disliked presidential nominees in a long, long time. Vox’s Ezra Klein claimed in a Tuesday piece that their unpopularity extends to the media, especially in Trump’s case.
“While it’s ridiculous to suggest the media likes Hillary Clinton — her relationship with the press is famously, legendarily toxic — the media is increasingly biased against Trump,” acknowledged Klein. “He really is getting different, harsher treatment than any candidate in memory. That he deserves it is important context to the discussion, but not, I think, the whole explanation.”
Klein offered “four main reasons a different set of rules have emerged for covering Trump”:
-- During the primaries, “top Republicans were, by turns, annoyed, bemused, and reflective when talking about Trump. Now they are disgusted, panicked, and desperate. That is manifesting in the coverage of reporters talking to those Republicans.”
-- “Trump’s tendency to spout wild, outlandish, easily disproven falsehoods and conspiracy theories has shredded any benefit of the doubt he ever got from the press.”
-- “There’s no mainstream newsroom I know of that is uncompromising in its advocacy for single-payer health care, or that has launched a longtime crusade for more foreign aid. If anything, the press tilts toward deficit hawkery in its economics and a (deserved) skepticism of governmental competence and honesty in its instincts.
“But the national press is undoubtedly cosmopolitan in its outlook…It prizes diversity, tolerance, pluralism. Within newsrooms, these ideas aren’t seen as political opinions but as fundamental values. There is no ‘other side’ worth reporting when it comes to racial equality, no argument that needs to be respected when it comes to religious intolerance or anti-LGBTQ bigotry.
“More than Trump’s campaign is conservative, it is anti-cosmopolitan.”
-- “Members of the media think Trump is a threat to the free press as an institution.”
The next GOP standard-bearer, Klein commented, may get a boost from the press’s “overcorrection” of its Trump coverage. He predicted that the media will “be so happy to have a semi-normal Republican candidate it could cover respectfully that whoever follows Trump is likely to benefit from a bit of halo effect just by comparison…What defines the press’s coverage of Trump isn’t that he’s a Republican but that there is something abnormal about him, about his campaign, and about the dynamics surrounding it. Assuming more normal politicians succeed him, more normal forms of coverage will reassert themselves.”
Of course, conservatives might not buy Klein’s assumption that coverage of a “more normal” Republican like Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio would be respectful.