Why the Media is About to Deliver Us Into Trump's Hands

According to the most recent polls - Donald Trump is now leading Hillary Clinton in the critical swing states of Ohio and Florida.

And if their behavior in the primaries is any indication - the American media is about to deliver this nation into the hands of Donald J. Trump, and there's probably very little any of us can do about it.

The "how" of this has played out in front of us for a year: While Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were debating issues on the Democratic side - and being largely ignored - Trump was getting wall-to-wall coverage as he bullied his Republican opponents in the primary.

So the "how" was grounded in editorial and business decisions about who to cover and how.

The "why," though, is the part that confounds most people.

Why would the TV networks be so aggressively handing billions of dollars (quite literally) worth of free airtime over to a man who's patently unqualified to run our nation?

The answer to "why" can be summed up in one simple word: Money.

First, there's the money to be generated by ratings. The more people who watch a network or show, the more that network or show can make from selling advertising.

Ratings equal revenue. And spectacle outdoes policy in bringing in eyeballs every time.

Second, there's the money being made by the executives, stockholders, and highly-paid talent.

Republicans - including Trump - always push to lower taxes on high-income people like network CEOs and senior executives - and there's a huge array of think-tanks and affiliated charities that throw money at conservative radio and TV hosts who'll push their agenda on the air (as Ken Vogel and Lucy McCalmont pointed out 5 years ago in Politico).

Third, there's the institutional bias that virtually every billion-dollar corporation in America has: "Cut taxes, cut regulations, and don't hold us accountable for the public interest while we're trying to make as much money as possible."

This is, of course, the core default Republican position. So whether Trump is crazy or incompetent or simply horrible, it really doesn't matter - if Trump is going to help corporate profits, who cares if he does it by pitting Americans against each other - or against more than a billion Muslims?

There's money to be made!

And then there's reality TV. During the big Hollywood writers' strike a generation ago, TV executives came up with a new format that didn't need unionized writers: the "reality show."

Originally put on the air as placeholders until the writers' strike was over, the reality shows took off and created a whole new niche in TV programming that was quickly filled by a wide variety of odd folks - including Donald Trump.

Reality shows are cheap to produce, and they generate ratings. So, advertisers love them, pretty much regardless of content. And that makes money.

If the big TV networks - and particularly the big 3 cable TV "news" networks - could just have a nationwide reality show for 4 years, they'd make a fortune!

And if the subject of that reality show was a guy who was cutting their taxes and deregulating their interlocking-boards-of-directors bankster and refinery buddies, that's all the more gravy!

Enter Donald Trump.

The corporate media covered the primaries as if they were a reality show.

Hillary Clinton could get a bit of traction when attacking Trump, but her progressive positions on the issues were almost entirely ignored - particularly her calls for higher taxes on rich people and corporations like the networks. It wasn't good "reality" programming

On the other side, "Low-energy" Jeb Bush, "Little" Marco Rubio, "Lyin'" Ted Cruz, and the entire crowd of GOP wannabees tried to talk policy and be serious, but Donald Trump was perfectly willing - even enthusiastic - to go "full reality show" and make their heads explode.

As long as the "news" media covered the Republican primary like a reality show instead of a real contest for the leadership of the free world, Trump prevailed.

And now that they're treating the general election as a content-free reality show, Trump is prevailing again.

Forget what the on-air talent says; our corporate media are salivating over the possibility of a 4-year-long, highly-rated, totally-unpredictable Trump-presidency-reality-show.

With the demise of the Fairness Doctrine, the end of serious enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and the media consolidation following the 1996 Telecommunications Act - the only thing that matters any more for network television is making more money.

Corporate media executives know that four years of Trump will be incredibly profitable for network television.

Forget how destructive it'll be to working and poor Americans, forget the damage it'll do to the planet and our children's future. It's going to be a Gilded Age for the corporate media - just like Les Moonves said during the primaries: "It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS!"


cccccttttt 6 years 27 weeks ago

Clear analysis of the money reality by Tom.

The first step to forming a successful plan is knowing the game.

It begs the question for progressives:

"how to be outragenous enough to attract eyeballs to the media and profits to their coffers?


gmiklashek950's picture
gmiklashek950 6 years 27 weeks ago

Thanks, Thom, for your critique of the MSM and their obvious attraction to the "newsy" Trumpster (contraction of "Trump" and "huckster"). They are lavishing in the increased ratings from their ongoing adoration of Trumpisms. However, the fertile ground from which this idiocratic media has arisen, is the utter disinterest of the bulk of "middle Americans" in anything even vaguely resembling education. We have become a trained audience, living vicariously through one "reality" show and "sporting" event after another, with the same unquestioning tranced attention. The average American barely reads one book a year. The History Channel has almost no programming on any historical event. Thank God, for those of us who have somehow preserved our curiosty and love of learning, for RTTV, LinkTV, FSTV, and CCTV. I have always listened to BBC and CBC for an outside perspective on American political and other news, rather than accepting the pablum of American MSM. The fascist American political system has essentially shut down the free flow of honest reportage and most Americans seem to have lost the capacity to discriminate truth from propaganda. Thank you for your heroic efforts to keep the discussion of important topics going, although we'll never see you on the MSM. Education is the core issue and the power elite knows it. Thus, their undermining of public education and substitution of "job training", in order to control the mass mind and "train" the next generation of unquestioning worker bees. But, then, how much training is really necessary to flip hamburgers?

dianhow 6 years 27 weeks ago

MSM Radio Newspapers all owned by huge powerful Corps NO one looks out for we the people any longer. 'News' is now a huge money maker ' Trump plays the media like a violin . Trump quote ' I give money so when I call They kiss my A $$ ! '

When a man tells you who- what he is BELIEVE HIM !!! Erratic, irational , vengeful, quick to lose it ' lack of critical thinking skills... his constant bragging reveals ' Visions of grandeur ' ( a mental disease ) Trump says he knows more than Generals or anyone ! People have been kissing his fat butt so long- he believes he is ' invincible' .

Beware of WW 3 if Trump wins GOP war mongers will have his ear Cheney Newt Karl Rove Tom Delay McConnell, Pense who admires CHENEY ! and wimpy Ryan

dianhow 6 years 27 weeks ago

Well said

Old_Curmudgeon 6 years 27 weeks ago

The MSM as Trump-Enabler

{… a rhyme …}

{… with its theme repeated in parentheses …}

Leaning left, Thom is right

{This Progressive is correct}

that the media enables the blight

{that the MSM aids the effect}

of Trump the reprehensible

{of the horse’s arse}

of Trump the indefensible

{of him who’s a farce}.


Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 6 years 27 weeks ago

gmik - The falling down of human behavior is and has been orchestrated and we now witness the result

Sadly... the process is indended and driven

BMetcalfe's picture
BMetcalfe 6 years 27 weeks ago

It's sad that not only the media but also factions of the American people have sunk so low.

Before 2008 Mr. Trump would have been booed off the podiums. Now he's the hottest show in many towns and on nearly all news programs. It wasn't Hillary who caused the financial meltdown that cost every American far too much; it was the corrupt financial institutions who gambled with American lives and lost. Now the once-revered news media are doing the same thing.

Perhaps the saddest truth of all, though, is that The Clinton's daughter has heard her mother called "untrustworthy" since she was six years old, because a Republican politician who was running against Chelsea's father decided to send barbs toward Hillary, as well, by intimating that since Hillary was a "working mother" she couldn't be "trusted" to be home enough to raise and nurture Chelsea properly. THAT is where the term "untrustworthy" first reared its ugly head, and those who disliked the Clintons' politics or feared their progressive policies have leveled it against Hillary, forever since. Never mind that Hillary is well-educated, tuned-in to the plights of those who have needed help. Never mind that she has worked tirelessly to make life better for all Americans. And never mind that Chelsea has turned out to be a prosperous, loving, well-educated woman and mother, too... Never mind that Chelsea's mother truly IS more qualified to assume the job of Commander-In-Chief than any other person has ever been. Hillary is still being judged by the Schafly Rule: Women are not worthy... if we have aspirations beyond cooking, cleaning, being barefoot and pregnant, and (worst of all!) being allowed to say, "No," when a husband wants "sex on demand."

Americans need to look into the future realistically. Mr. Trump gets bored after he wins. He always wants to move on to other projects, often at the expense of not paying those who helped him complete the last one. What will he sell-off when he runs the National Debt so high we can't make the payment, and must file for national bankruptcy? Our National Park Lands? Our monuments? The properties of those who have FHA financing?

America is not just another project. It's a solemn responsibility. I cannot believe that Mr. Trump looks at the Presidency as anything more than just another challenge to conquer.

Hillary moves forward by seeing what has worked, what didn't, and how to make things more affordable and safe for America's future, allowing more prosperity for all of us.Hillary may have a womb, but she is still the best man for the job.

So, shame on the media for airing tyrannical rants from a second-rate, potty-mouthed carnival barker, just to turn a greater profit from the campaigns for President. And shame on the sponsors for allowing themselves to be prostituted at the sake of our nation's dignity.

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 6 years 27 weeks ago

BMecalfe - Cool observations!

Great rant! Thanks!

Sadly american people have to choose between a fascist or a fascist

One bought and paid for the other ready for the payoff

America has forgotten that it was "the land of the free"

Very, very sad!!!

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 6 years 27 weeks ago

Where is a documented qualification requirement for POTUS????

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 6 years 27 weeks ago

Incidentally! I do not expect an answer!

That would be far too difficult!

Betsy Starkey's picture
Betsy Starkey 6 years 27 weeks ago

Your analysis frightens me Thom. Between the impending doom of the next crash, and having a shister as president - my daughter is looking out of the country to go to college. She graduates HS in May, 2017. I don't think we're going to let Trump get elected. Too many higher-ups in the powers-that-be can't fathom the notion. If, he did pull it off my bet is his cheesecake would be poisoned before inauguration day. Then we'd have Pence. Great. I don't believe the polls. There can't be that many INSANE people in this country. He is the fringe of the fringe....

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 27 weeks ago

"It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS"

By this declaration, I take it that Moonves thinks of himself, and his CBS, as not part of America!!!!! That statement will revisit him and others just like him when our anti -ballistics are unable to shield the country he lives in , but is not a part of, from all of the nuclear, chemical, and biological incoming warheads.

Thanks to the corpse media it looks like our Dangerous Donny actually stands a good chance to be placed in a position to touch off that armegeddon. Smug wealth will be useless when all that's left is roving bands of ISIS types.

Anklejive.com's picture
Anklejive.com 6 years 27 weeks ago

Interesting when media people turn on their own. Haven't you been bashing Sec. Clinton for months? You, Mr. Hartmann, are also complicit. I hope you own it.

ChristopehrCurrie's picture
ChristopehrCurrie 6 years 27 weeks ago

President Obama's current efforts to "logroll" members of Congress to pass his onerous TPP "trade agreement" during the upcoming lame duck session of Congress and Hillary's disastrously bloody "regime change" efforts as Secretary of State are also contributing significantly to Hillary's declining popularity.

EvilRichGuy's picture
EvilRichGuy 6 years 27 weeks ago

Massive media exposure can be a good thing or a bad thing.

If you have a message that appeals to people they will flock to you, and if you don't, they will run away.

Hillary is hiding from the media because her positions on charter schools, immigration, the middle east, globalization, etc are not what most Americans want at this point in time. Whereas Trump's positions on these things have broad appeal. The only arrow in her arsenal is to attack Trump as racist and sexist. She loses when the discussion turns to policies, and is smart enough to know that massive exposure of her position on the issues would kill her campaign.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 27 weeks ago

Evil rich guy!: Based on political affiliations we know that more than half of America is totally offended by the constant media exposure of Dangerous Don. Strange how the media seems oblivious to this ongoing alienation of audience that will come back to haunt them.

Look at the polls, broken down item by item, Clinton's platform represents by far the will of the vast majority, your Teabggers included....check it out, and become informed.

EvilRichGuy's picture
EvilRichGuy 6 years 27 weeks ago


The majority of Americans are for the TPP?

The majority of Americans are for open borders?

The majority of Americans are against charter schools?

The majority of Americans are for accepting Syrian refugees?

Check your facts. A lot has to do with how the question is asked, and also whether or not the person responding can do so confidentially.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 27 weeks ago

Evil rich guy: Clinton has come out against the TPP!

Most Americans do not want dumbed down for profit schools.

Clinton does not want unchecked immigration. The only ones who support illegal immigration are the rich white employers who hire the illegal immigrants at slave wages. Jail these rich white guys for breaking the law and watch the problem shrink rapidly.

Vast Majority support for Clinton, according to polls includes much of her platform...look it up and read about it...numerous sites. Things like increasing minimum wage, campaign finance reform, regulation of the banksters, instead of privatizing, strenghten Social Security, Public option choice, funding for college education....on and on my man....and guess what...by far the vast majority supports all of these things despite the fascist propaganda designed to confuse citizens.

caboken 6 years 27 weeks ago


EvilRichGuy's picture
EvilRichGuy 6 years 27 weeks ago


We shall agree to disagree. I do believe that Hillary is for the TPP. Even Thom has said on a number of occasions that if Hillary is elected she will quickly pass the TPP. She is vaguely against it now in order to get elected. As to charter schools -- Visit any black community in America and ask parents if they wish they had charter schools. I am convinced the majority of Americans want options for their children, regardless of who they are. As to immigration -- Hillary is now claiming to want "controlled borders" -- but, that is only for election purposes. Dig deep on what she has said and you will find that both her and Trump say they want to tighten the borders but their definition of a controlled border is much different. In particular ask Hillary what she would change about the current policies of Obama, and how many Syrian refugees she'd be willing to accept. Americans are not happy with status quo on immigration.

As to the other issues you brought up...

Trump is for a higher minimum wage. On this issue, the two candidates agree.

On campaign reform -- every politician is for it -- until elected. I absolutely support campaign reform -- but, $50 says no politician Trump and Hillary included will ever take it seriously, regardless of what they say while running for office. (Yes. I am cynical on this one)

On funding for college education -- This is an issue where Hillary takes the lead and owns the issue. I don't know how much America (outside of millenials cares). A big chunk of the public will see the cost, and some will see the savings. A lot more people will be paying than receiving benefits. I'd have to see the polls to know what America thinks on this issue, particularly after they understand the cost. I suspect that it will be a topic in the debates and that Hillary will be forced to give it a number, and then confess that the cost is too high for us to pay. The cost isn't in her budget.

Overall, we will find out what America thinks in November, but my belief is that the deeper people look the more they will decide that their own beliefs match Trumps, not Hillarys. Neither candidate is lovable. This is going to come down to the issues. And, Hillary can't hide forever.

Pastor_Thoth's picture
Pastor_Thoth 6 years 27 weeks ago

Interestingly, I disagree with Thom's hypothesis about the media. It's interesting because I agree with Thom nearly 90% of the time. However, here, it sounds like a stretch.

Although I agree that Trump is getting a lot of media exposure, the exposure, for me, has only solidified my belief that he is unfit to be President. About a month back, he was behind Clinton in both the polls in key swing states and general election polls. At that time, Trump was getting the same amount of media coverage that he has been getting this entire election cycle.

Certain events caused Trump to surpass Hillary in some polls. One of those events was Hillary fainting, or wobbling, whatever you want to call it--she looked sick. Regardless of how serious or non-serious her medical condition is, she still made a mistake by not being able to properly assess her own wellbeing and fainting on 9/11.

Still, I am not worried. All the polls prior to the debates don't mean much to me. But for Hillary fainting, I'm certain she would still be in the lead; I believe her advantage in the polls dipped soon after that incident. However, the candidates performances during the debates will count for a lot. If Hillary comes across as articulate, informed, and avoids using weird expressions like "short circuit" she should be ok. But if she faints or wobbles, then she'll probably lose the election.

If Trump keeps talking trash and avoiding substantive discussions of the issues, he'll lose. Circumventing questions by making fun of opposing candidates during the primaries is one thing, but doing that during the presidential debates will be disasterous for Trump. At least, that's how I feel.

Well, I'm just pointing out that it's not the media that will put Trump into office. This race, since the end of the primaries, has been Hillary's to lose.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 27 weeks ago

Evil rich guy: Given Trump's track record regarding just about all aspects of his life... you name it, rape charges to scores of unpaid contractors.....do you really believe a word he says??? C'mon!

Like most of us, Clinton is at least a honest hard working citizen..... geeez!

EvilRichGuy's picture
EvilRichGuy 6 years 27 weeks ago


The issues you raised are subject to debate, and to the extent that the candidate's past is a relevant issue Hillary loses that battle.

That said, I'm not going to go there. The media on each side has spent plenty of time opining on the candidate's personal lives.

There is much more at stake than whether Hillary illegally used an illegal email server, or Trump has bad hair and small hands.

American's have a long reputation for focusing on the right issues. This will come down to things like "Who is most likely to get me a job?" and "Who will keep me safe?" Some will think Hillary has the right answer, and some will think Trump.

My suspicion is that the debates will make a huge difference. Whoever wins the debates will be our next President. Hillary has a lifetime in politics and will come off more Presidential, but Trump will have answers that ring true.

We shall see what we shall see...

akpfker 6 years 27 weeks ago

Mr. Hartman -

you sound real smart and with a good rote memory, with intense reactions and too glib words at time. On the replay on Roy's show on 9/21/2016 you blabbed saying Trump said "we are all white supremacists Are Us!" loudly and then quickly realized how you put fake words in someone's else's speech....then you muttered in lower tone [check out sound !] "sorry..." to retract that.

But most listeners only hear what TheyWantToBelieve & Hear...and will repeat what you said, because they want to malign any Other views/ people/ politics, et al that is not theirs...and you will not hear back how your easy-to-attack anyone you dont like or fear words are later repeated and misused.

How can we trust you when you act like those you hate, oppose, criticize and malign, so often and so frequently ?

The problem with those who claim to be the "I do good and I help and I will save this world, believe me, follow me..." people, like those at KPFK, is that they do same as what they attack and hate that other's do ! And deny it. Or excuse themselves so easily while never allowing those 'others' off any hooks for any crimes, lies, mistakes, et al.

That is called being a Hypocrite, right ? and that is denied by you and others who claim to have all the RIGHT only answers too.

Please think before blurting out your venom so you dont sound so Trumpish and give any listeners more helpful Information that can be believed...not say something, retract it and assume you have special permission [elites claim to have this] to subtly 'take back' what you can not erase, anyhow.

You know how easily people love to quote any famed celebrity, like you, to prove they know too and they too are Right and use your words to confirm their own opinions.

Now they, whoever those fervent listeners are, will quote you or even add on to your words and then exaggerated lies/ rumors will spill out anywhere and you will be the source, whether those words will be attributed or remembered that they gushed out of YOU.

How can anyone trust those who use the media air-waves to blurt out lies and then pretend they "didnt mean that" ? Just as Trump continues to do same, as did you now.

And we may assume this is not "just 1 time only" but this is one we heard and had to complain to you directly about.

Do you care ?

akpfker 6 years 27 weeks ago

you mention Hillary Clinton - who yes is measured by very different standards and will be forever so. Women are most quickly and popularly maligned as "bad mothers" [not just by their children's blaming mothers so much more and often than they recognize what father's did or did-not do ].

And an older woman is blamed as daring to be too man-like, or too 'shrill' as a way to say she is not allowed to be equally powered as is her husband, her father, or boss = any male. Old women are feared, blamed, accused and hated more easily than even racial stereotypes are, especially Caucasian women.

Women, like Clinton, are held responsible for what their fathers, husbands, children do, as if they had that much control. No, they dont and can't, even when women try to influence or help their family members. But the general societal /global view is that She Should or Must, vs. asking if She Can ?

It is a no-win when fighting a whole 'dangerous' image of what a woman would be as a 'head', leader, president, ruler, or any dominant [or what appears to be 'top' status] position, Mothers were mostly dominant and so important to their children. Then that is never again allowed when those children become adults, and vote.

No fair ? of course not. Common hidden & denied attitudes ? Yes, and not only in USA, even if other nations have elected women top leaders, but seldom and more temporarily than men. Notice that ?

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