Before the Trump administration took office, I had written, at length, on the structural problems of the American media and the incentive systems of todays information market. My condensed point was that a $185 billion American media market had spurred so much competition for clicks and ratings that an expansion of content and branding had been underway since the 90’s. That branding smacked of early days of the Republic where Jefferson and Hamilton traded barbs in their respective Gazettes.
My concern wasn’t dishonesty. It was the ability for branded news to yield serious journalism less effective by countering the likes of David Farenthold with the likes of Sean Hannity and it not being obvious to many what the difference was.
What my concern wasn’t, and still isn’t, was that mainstream media would fabricate stories.
There is something to the incendiary nature of the Trump administration. Anything I write, and this is presumably true for others as well, gets a “Trump Multiplier” in interest when I publish it. But the real and regular attacks by President Trump on the media need to be viewed for what they are. A political ploy that has done harm to an important American institution.
What one would need to believe in order to believe the Trump stance on the main stream media, is the following:
Stories like the Mueller investigation, an investigation into potential Trump campaign collusion with Russia that has yielded guilty pleas and indictments for top members of the Trump campaign, would not be covered if another president were in office.
The POTUS, on tape, talking about how to silence a Playboy Playmate he had an affair with would not be covered if there were another president in office.
The POTUS screaming threats of military action against other sovereign nations, multiple times through social media, would be treated as “normal” if there were another president in office.
The FLOTUS wearing a coat that says “I Really Don’t Care. Do You?” while visiting children that have been jailed and separated from their parents because of a zero tolerance immigration policy would not be covered if there were another president in office.
I could go on and on and on…
The reality is that we have a President who used to call in to talk radio in New York City pretending to be his publicist so he could disseminate stories about his own sex life. There is, of course, tape of that as well. All this is what you get with that.
My most consistent criticism of the Trump candidacy and administration is that it’s really hard to run a government behaving the way President Trump has for the last 40 years in public. It’s like sitting down at a deli to order a sandwich with your suit on fire and complaining that the fire department showed up instead of your pastrami on rye.
Stick to serious print outlets. When they get it wrong they’re strongly incentivized to correct it. And they do.