Media Profits from Dumping on Trump

Nikhil Chandravel, Staff Writer

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Donald Trump at the first GOP debate.

Photo courtesy of CNN.
Donald Trump at the first GOP debate.

“We need somebody that can take the brand of the United States and make it great again. We need somebody that literally will take this country and make it great again. We can do that.…So, ladies and gentlemen, I am officially running for President of the United States and we are going to make our country great again” And thus began the fascinating and resilient campaign of Donald John Trump, Jr. And where are Trump’s numbers now, after a little above 8 months? Above everyone else’s. In a recent survey by Public Policy Polling, Trump is still in the lead with approximately 25% of Republican voters in support. In contrast, fellow GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum had exactly zero supporters in the same poll. This has been the pattern of the Republican race since Trump announced his candidacy. The campaigns of political insiders like Rand Paul, Scott Walker, and Rick Perry fizzled out after brief bursts of popularity, making the way for Donald Trump. It is interesting to consider the fact that a businessman that is more closely associated with the Trump Tower than the White House could oust people who represent Washington. It was inevitable however, from the time Trump announced his candidacy. With the media working for Trump, other candidates, even those with significant political experience, found it difficult to remain relevant. The combination of these failed campaigns and increased media attention have led Trump to his surprisingly high levels of success in the present. Trump didn’t have a competitor in his category for some time, so voters that were heavily inclined to Trump’s ideas did not have an alternative candidate.

It is especially ironic that the media, the group which seems to most strongly dislike Trump, is the one to actually facilitate his success. Reading opinion articles from CNN, the Washington Post, or the New York Times, makes it clear that some people there do not care for Trump. But it also becomes obvious that however vocal, however fervent, or even logical, depending on your political inclinations, nothing the media does affects the Trump campaign. It really is their unwitting error. The media is Trump’s platform for getting his ideas across to the voters, and the media has been complacent to his desires, whether they realize that or not.

A poignant example of his dominance within the marketing sphere and how the media fuels Trump’s campaign is the announcement of his presidential bid.  On June 15, 2015, the day before he made his announcement , Trump received 4% of the media’s coverage. Two days later, 31% of the media’s attention centered on Trump. Along with the spike in news coverage, his poll numbers also increased. This is more than a casual correlation. With the sudden surge of news coverage, new information came to the voters. With that new information, voters decided to support Trump. So the more opinion articles written to derail him, the more interview time he gets, and the more he is attacked on “The Voice,” the more that certain voters embrace Trump for non-conformity.

But the media isn’t entirely to blame for inadvertently assisting Trump. Just as in any other business, making money is the main objective of media outlets. In working towards this goal, the size of the audience matters. One person that can bring in crowds of viewers is Donald Trump. How many of us would watch the news, riveted to the screen because of some new update about Jim Gilmore? I, for one, don’t even know what Gilmore looks like. There is a much higher probability that we would stick around to watch a newscast about Trump. The media knows this. It has utilized this. It has given Donald Trump most of the attention, most of the airtime, and the prime position in all of the debates. And Donald Trump has used the attention he has been given by saying outlandish things provoking even more media attention and generating more popularity. An example of Trump’s media monopoly is how much time Fox News dedicated to him from May 1st to December 15th, 2015. He made 119 appearances and totaled approximately 22 hours and 46 minutes. How would you like to binge watch that? Second place went to Chris Christie who made a measly 75 appearances, totaling 9 hours and 51 minutes during the same time frame. Jim Gilmore received 34 minutes in 5 appearances —but kudos to him for trying.

If the media really meant what they said, they wouldn’t talk about Donald Trump. They wouldn’t talk to him. They would boycott his casinos and his golf courses. They would give him the media’s collective cold shoulder. They’d give him a one way ticket to The Land of Political Obscurity, population: Martin Van Buren, James K. Polk, and, most recently, Jim Gilmore. The media has the power to do that. Well, they would if they didn’t care about money. But they do, so Donald will keep on milking the media for votes, right up to the Republican nomination, and maybe even after that.


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