Press: Time for media to stop promoting Donald Trump

Donald Trump is a political figure. But, more than anything else, Trump is a creation of the media. And it’s time for us in the media – whether print, TV, radio or online – to admit that, like Victor Frankenstein, we have created a monster.  

Let’s face it: Trump wouldn’t be where he is today without the attention he’s always received from the media. It started long before he ran for president, when he was the daily favorite of the New York gossip columnists. Why? Not because he did anything worthwhile, but simply because he was rich and flamboyant.  

Thanks to that free publicity, NBC’s then-president Jeff Zucker gave Trump his own TV show, “The Apprentice” — which he hosted for 14 years. Again, not because he had any noticeable talent, but just because he was a rich developer.  

In 2015, the developer-turned-TV-star jumped into politics, launching a campaign for the Republican nomination for president that was, on many levels, a joke. He had no political experience. He’d been a lifelong Democrat. He seemed to know little about public policy, which he demonstrated at his campaign announcement, branding most immigrants from Mexico as criminals, drug dealers and rapists. Yet we in the media immediately treated him like a serious candidate.  

And while any other candidate was lucky to get one minute’s coverage on the evening news, some cable news channels carried Trump’s rallies from start to finish.  

Fellow journalists, admit it: We made Trump a serious candidate, and then we made him president.  

Once Trump became president, we continued to coddle him, even though he complained about it, giving him breaks we’d never given any other president, Republican or Democrat. Spreading, for example, his lie that he had actually won the popular vote in 2016. Accepting as no big deal his refusal to put his business deals on hold while serving, thus setting up clear conflicts of interest. Giving credibility to his denial of any involvement by Russia in the 2016 campaign.  

And, worst of all, not holding him properly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans due to his utter failure to take the coronavirus seriously.  

Trump got a free pass from the media as president and, for the last two years, for his shameful conduct as former president: still refusing to admit he lost the 2020 election, while doing everything he could to undermine our democratic process.   

Well, all of that should have come to a screeching halt as of June 28 and the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson before the Jan. 6 committee. We now know Trump was more directly involved, both before and during the January 2021 riot, than previously thought: not only inviting supporters to Washington, but — knowing they were armed — sending them to the Capitol and desperately trying to join them himself.   

And the media’s response? A flood of articles reporting Trump’s plans to announce his 2024 campaign earlier than expected. Haven’t we learned anything? It’s time to stop treating him as a candidate and start ridiculing him as a clown. The headline should not read: “Donald Trump To Run Again,” but rather: “Con Man Trump Tries to Fool America Again.”  

I implore my colleagues in the media: We made Trump. Shame on us.  

Now it’s our patriotic duty to cover him as we should have from the very start: 

as a dangerous threat to our democracy.  

Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” He is the author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.” 

Tags Jan. 6 Capitol attack Jeff Zucker media media coverage of Trump

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