Stop us from paying attention to them.

Photographer: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Catch of the Day: Discard Trump

Jonathan Bernstein is a Bloomberg View columnist. He taught political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio and DePauw University and wrote A Plain Blog About Politics.
Read More.
a | A

A Catch to Conor Friedersdorf for calling out some of the news media for treating Donald Trump as a real presidential candidate:

On Saturday, the Iowa Freedom Summit featured 24 speakers. Many wield significant political power. One of them is a publicity-hound billionaire and reality TV host who spent the last presidential election cycle feigning an electoral bid. But based on news coverage of the event, you'd think Donald Trump was the most consequential speaker and that his words deserved to be disseminated widely.

Friedersdorf then details all the media outlets that covered Trump’s speech. No one takes Trump seriously as a presidential candidate. And "no one" knows that better than the reporters who write up his appearances, as Friedersdorf explains. 

But Republicans keep giving him high-profile speaking slots and otherwise treat him as if he were important. Reporters are simply following party cues about who the newsworthy Republicans are. It isn't clear when reporters are (or should be) allowed to use their own judgment to override those cues.

So is Friedersdorf’s real complaint with the Republican Party (or at least those Republicans who organized this particular event)? 

Partly. To the extent the media elevated Trump over the other speakers, they're still imposing their choices over those of the Republican Party. After all, while the overall coverage reported some highlights from this event, such as how Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's speech was received, most of the 24 speakers didn't get their own stories.

So overall, Friedersdorf is correct that media fascination with The Donald takes away from coverage of the fascinating and important Republican nomination battle -- even if Republican Party organizers are partly responsible. Nice catch!

  1. It would also be fair to complain that the media pays too much attention to the most visible events right now at the expense of the more important competition and coordination among party actors over the nomination. The focus is too easily hijacked by Trump, Sarah Palin and others seeking publicity rather than the nomination. 

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Jonathan Bernstein at jbernstein62@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor on this story:
Katy Roberts at kroberts29@bloomberg.net