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For journalists, Trump continues to be the gift that keeps on giving

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He’s been out of the office for more than 620 days. He’s been impeached not once, but twice. And he hasn’t done a sit-down interview with any major print outlet since leaving office in Jan. 2021. 

But Donald Trump is still the focus of media outlets across the country. Editorial pages continue to be filled with Trump-related opinion pieces, and it goes without saying that the tone and tenor is almost universally negative.

Broadcast news outlets, save for a catastrophic event like Hurricane Ian, invariably lead with Trump and the Mar-a-Lago raid and the legal battle that has followed. And when the made-for-TV Jan. 6 hearings resume (they were postponed likely due to the committee’s fear of being pre-empted by hurricane coverage), that will take center stage as well. 

That’s not to say that Trump, particularly his legal battles over classified documents, isn’t a big story. No former president’s home had ever been raided. The documents at Mar-a-Lago, per the Department of Justice, are highly classified. And Trump continues to consistently complain that the 2020 election was stolen, which only fuels the Jan. 6 investigation regarding his possible culpability. 

Regardless of whether you believe Trump is guilty or innocent, it is a major thing to report on and continue reporting on as the legal situation evolves. 

For Democrats, that is the whole point: To make these midterms a referendum on Trump and what President Biden so divisively described as his extreme MAGA-philosophy, which he also labelled “semi-fascism.” For a guy who ran on unifying the country, calling your former and potential future opponent’s supporters akin the Hitler won’t do much to bring folks together, but only enrage each side further. 

“If the election is about who is the most extreme … then (the Democrats) are gonna win,” former White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on “Meet the Press” recently. “If it is a referendum on the president, they will lose, and they know that.”

Republicans are seen as better equipped to handle inflation, the economy in general, crime and the border. (The president is polling well into the 60s or higher in terms of disapproval on each of these key issues.) Democrats have little to run on outside of abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision sending abortion laws back to the states.

And given that the party in power has lost an average of 23 seats in midterms dating back to 1934, the GOP needs to flip only five seats to take back the House. FiveThirtyEight.com gives the GOP about a 70 percent chance of taking it back. 

But the myopia with Trump is still very prevalent even in places one might not expect anymore. Exhibit A is on the literary landscape, where multiple Trump books have recently been released or will be published over the next several weeks.

One would think that the current occupant of the Oval Office, the one polling lower than any first term president in polling history after receiving more votes than any presidential candidate in history, would also be the focus of journalists seeking to hold the powerful accountable without fear or favor to party. But in looking at the landscape again, to my knowledge there is only one book looking at the life and presidency of Joseph R. Biden, and you’re currently reading a column written by its author. Looking ahead through the rest of the year, it appears not one other publisher plans to release a book on Biden. Why is that? 

One theory has to do with marketability. Let’s say CNN’s Jim Acosta, who also wrote a book about the Trump White House chronicling his many confrontations with the former president and his press secretaries, decided to also write one about the Biden White House and his press secretaries. Would Jimmy Kimmel or Stephen Colbert or CBS or NPR book Acosta, as they did for his Trump book? 

It’s doubtful. And if an author can’t promote a political book on television, it probably won’t sell. It’s why you’ll see Maggie Haberman across the TV and radio dial and on multiple podcasts talking about the threat posed by Donald Trump. This is what most of traditional media craves: Anti-Trump, anti-MAGA rhetoric. And to be clear, criticism of the former president is warranted, as it is with any active or former leader. 

But that same scrutiny, criticism and analysis isn’t being applied to the person with true power, the one who currently occupies the Oval Office. Biden just signed a student loan forgiveness plan, which some estimates place at a cost of $1 trillion dollars, without any authorization from Congress. He advocates spending trillions of dollars and that doing so will reduce 40-year-high inflation.

He continues to insist the U.S. Southern border is secure despite a record 2 million people entering illegally in the last year. And he continues to be completely silent on cashless bail laws allowing violent criminals to return to the street only to commit crimes and hurt or kill people again and again. 

These are just some of the serious problems impacting this country. A recent Gallup poll finds 86 percent of voters saying they are dissatisfied with the direction of the country. And only 35 percent of Democrats want Biden as their 2024 nominee, per a recent ABC News-Washington Post poll. Worthy of a book, don’t you think? 

It’s reasonable for so many journalists to want to write about a president. Problem is, they’re fixated on the wrong one. 

Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist.

Tags Biden administration Donald Trump Jan 6 house commitee January 6 riots Jim Acosta Media bias Trump book trump books

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