Prop up a candidate, get bored of candidate, complain candidate is in decline, repeat.
For everything that might be wrong with large media outlets, there’s no escaping the control they wield over election cycles. They possess the power to crush White House dreams or make them a reality.
Which is part of why headlines like this are hilarious:
Yesterday, we discussed a report released by the Media Research Center that revealed CNN devoted a whopping 78% of its GOP primary coverage to Donald Trump. The skewed timeshare was reflected in the network’s GOP debate held Wednesday, the first 45 minutes of which were questions about their favorite subject — Donald Trump. The end game? Ratings. And it worked for CNN.
The cycle is relatively simple:
Obsessing over a candidate to the point of media saturation creates an inevitable amount of fatigue over the subject. Writing and talking about the same.exact.thing over and over and over again is tediously taxing, not to mention boring. Then there’s the consumer element. The public’s want of gossip, drama, scandal, and salaciousness only helps to fuel the cycle.
The Washington Post’s John Sides explored the correlation between media coverage of Trump and his ascension in the polls. The results are fascinating. There appears to be a direct connection to the amount of coverage Trump received and his poll standings.
Now, I’ll qualify this by saying that Trump has smartly harnessed the anti-Republican status quo dissatisfaction and used it to his advantage. That is a real phenomena that deserves credit. The rebellion against the old guard GOP certainly explains why those at the top of the Republican primary heap happen to be political outsiders. That being said, the media’s role in propelling him to the front of the pack is one that deserves serious consideration.
Sides findings pretty well speak for themselves:
After Carly Fiorina’s strong performance in Wednesday’s debate, the fever pitch has a new note. Naturally, articles like the Politico piece bemoan declining media coverage of their once favorite headline go-to. Somewhere in all of this, they completely miss the fact that this “declining coverage” is due solely to their own decision-making. It’s a cycle that verges on self-parody and one wholly within their control.
With 16 candidates running in one primary alone, there’s plenty of news to cover. Whether its lack of desire, interest, or ability, covering a larger portion of the candidate base more equitably is not part of the equation.
We’ll be bombarded with Carly stories until the next debate, or the next flub up, or the next gotcha, when Media Attention will once again shine its spotlight in another direction. And so the cycle will continue.
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