North Texas Daily

How does the media cover Trump now?

How does the media cover Trump now?

How does the media cover Trump now?
February 04
11:00 2021

A new administration means a new start, a chance to press the reset button (for the most part). Donald Trump is no longer in office and the new administration is hell-bent on undoing the damage their predecessor has caused.

How does the media, right or left-wing, fill the Trump void?

His impeachment trial is quickly approaching and those proceedings will naturally be covered. It wouldn’t be the first time a president has been impeached, but it’s doubly significant that the trial begins with him no longer in office. But while it is a journalist’s job to aptly cover current events and make sense of the world around them, restraint is a practice that needs to be exercised here.

From the moment Trump announced his candidacy for president in 2015, political news media have covered and documented his actions with intense attention and scrutiny. His popularity and notoriety only ballooned as networks broadcasted nearly all of his rallies. Those in favor championed his unorthodox approach to politics, and his critics expressed disdain for his disregard for political convention.

Controversy sells and perhaps no one knows this better than the former reality television star. Over the course of his campaign, Trump earned nearly $2 billion worth of free media coverage, compared to Hilary Clinton’s “meager” $746 million, according to a study by The New York Times. News outlets, regardless of their stance on the man, filled their airwaves with whatever flavor-of-the-week rhetoric he had.

Trump is the journalistic gift that keeps on giving. Whether or not his critics are willing to admit it, the constant barrage of covering Trump undoubtedly led him to win the 2016 election, according to an article from the Cambridge University Press.

These past four years have shown just how much power and influence journalists hold, having a strong symbiotic relationship with the former president. Constantly berating the media with blanket terms like “enemy of the people” only gave writers and reporters an obligation to retort. Not since the Nixon administration has tensions between a president and the media been so contentious.

Currently, most media outlets are focusing on the impending impeachment trial, specifically who Trump has chosen to represent him. Given the historical significance of a president being impeached for a second time, widespread media coverage is expected, and even encouraged, albeit with a few coverages.

Juxtaposing Biden’s actions in office with the trial proceedings runs the risk of giving Trump the attention he desperately craves.

He has made it no secret about his plans to run again in 2024 as a candidate of the “Patriot Party.” The last two weeks of his term showed the world just how volatile and deadly his influence can be. The Capitol riots are a summation of his presidency, an appropriately violent showcase of his ability to appeal to a person’s worst impulses. Having him run again is a hypothetical that makes one shiver, but constant media coverage of his candidacy will only validate his base and all the bigoted baggage that comes with it.

Biden cannot be a footnote in Trump’s legacy. While he has the unenviable task of alleviating the social discourse caused by his predecessor, he also has the opportunity to set a tone that is much more sobering and less prone to anger. He and Vice President Kamala Harris focused their campaign on highlighting the various shortcomings of the Trump administration, especially how they fumbled their COVID-19 response. Calling him the “worst president this country has ever had” is practically the definition of fighting words, and Biden has to not only deliver on his promises to right Trump’s wrongs, but set a standard of greatness politicians should aspire to achieve.

The supposed return to normalcy with Biden will be muted should the media decide to cover Trump like they would a sitting president.

Although it is tempting and perhaps necessary to document how Trump conducts himself as a civilian, it cannot take precedence over Biden’s current legislative efforts. His term takes place during a time of great consequence, both immediate and prospective — choosing to overly cover his predecessor will only do more harm than good. History doesn’t repeat, but it often rhymes, and journalists need to consider changing their tune.

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

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Kevin Diaz

Kevin Diaz

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