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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 3/7/16

The Media's Not Being Honest About Its Trump Obsession

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Message Eric Boehlert
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Reprinted from Media Matters

What's Popular Replaces What's Newsworthy

Donald Trump
Donald Trump
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Right after the Feb. 25 Republican debate, front-runner Donald Trump was interviewed at length on the debate stage by CNN's Chris Cuomo. The move seemed a bit odd, since during the debate Trump dominated the speaking time compared to the other candidates. And now he was given even more time, immediately after the showdown, to address the CNN audience. (Sen. Ted Cruz was later interviewed, but Trump's immediate interview seemed like an attachment to the actual debate.)

But it didn't end there. Less than an hour later, Trump reappeared for another lengthy CNN one-on-one interview, this time with Anderson Cooper. Some viewers started to wonder if this was a debate broadcast or a paid commercial for the Republican. "Its [sic] official. CNN is your 24-hour Trump channel," tweeted Washington Post writer Joe Heim.

That Trump receives an unprecedented amount of media attention, and especially free television time, has been well documented in recent months. (Even Fox News is marveling at the "clear imbalance.") But to date, the press hasn't been especially honest about the wild disparity.

Still clinging to the traditional campaign model that suggests candidates receive the amount of coverage that mirrors their importance and their standing in the race, the press insists the never-ending gusher of Trump media attention simply reflects his political significance.

Or, that Trump just really likes to give interviews.

Here's how CNN president Jeff Zucker explained the channel's tidal wave of Trump attention:

"'You can say what you want, but Donald Trump has been willing to subject himself to interviews,' Mr. Zucker said. 'And just because he's willing to do it and others weren't necessarily willing to do it, doesn't mean that he should be penalized because the others won't do it. And we shouldn't be penalized for not doing it because the others won't do it.'"

Trump is drowning in CNN attention because he says yes to interview requests? That doesn't add up. It doesn't explain, for instance, why CNN and the other cable news channels often cover Trump rallies live and interrupted. There's nothing especially newsworthy about most of the rah-rah events. So why block off hour after hour and allow the GOP frontrunner to speak uninterrupted while being showered in adulation from his fans?

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