Donald Trump’s claim that the “crooked media” has it in for him has prompted much soul-searching with the Fourth Estate, and its conclusion appears to be that he's right -- and that's just fine with some news organizations.
“I’m not running against Crooked Hillary,” Trump told a crowd in Fairfield, Conn., last week. “I’m running against the crooked media.”
Lately some, including The New York Times, Vox and Bill Moyers’ website, have not only owned up to Trump's accusation, they've embraced it.
“If you deplore media cowardice, you might think this is a good thing, not because Trump is a mortal danger to this country, although he is, but because it means the press is doing its job,” Neil Gabler wrote on the journalism website of Moyers, the longtime PBS newsman who cut his teeth as a spokesman for Democratic President Lyndon Johnson. “Call it partisan bias if you like. I call it journalism.”
Ezra Klein, the Vox writer who as a Washington Post staffer organized a secret society of left-wing reporters dubbed “JournoList” that was shut down after it was exposed in 2010, acknowledged that the press is not giving Trump traditional treatment.
“The media has felt increasingly free to cover Trump as an alien, dangerous, and dishonest phenomenon,” Klein wrote last week.
New York Times’ media critic Jim Rutenberg wrote that journalists who personally oppose Trump had an obligation to “throw out the textbook” when it came to coverage of The Donald.
“If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?” Rutenberg wondered in a front-page article earlier this month.
When it comes to covering Trump, it’s only fair to be unfair, according to The Atlantic.
“All things considered, the press has responded defensibly to the unusual challenges of covering a brazen, habitual liar,” Conor Friedersdorf wrote in a recent column titled, “The Exaggerated Claims of Media Bias Against Donald Trump.”
If Trump is confused by the media’s stance that it has been fair by being biased, he can take comfort in a new study on his treatment by the press since he entered the political arena.
Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy tracked his coverage by CBS, Fox, the Los Angeles Times, NBC, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. It concluded that through its coverage of Trump, both good and bad, the media helped him get the Republican nomination.