The media keeps questioning whether President Joe Biden, who’s almost perfectly healthy and just aced his physical, will run again in 2024. But the media keeps insisting that Donald Trump will run in 2024 even though he increasingly comes off as a walking corpse.
Why does the media keep doing this? The answer on both counts is straightforward enough: ratings. The easiest way to scare mainstream Americans into staying tuned in right now is to insist that Trump is going to make a magic comeback in 2024 and take over again. The fact that Trump looks like death these days, and the fact that he’s in such bad shape his handlers try to keep him out of the public eye as much as possible, don’t fit the prevailing narrative so these facts are simply ignored.
And if the easiest way to scare mainstream Americans into staying tuned in is to insist that Trump is going to run and win in 2024, then the second-easiest way to scare people into staying tuned in is to hint that Biden won’t run in 2024. It doesn’t matter that there’s nothing to support this notion. It only matters that if audiences can be scared into believing that the Democrats won’t have the incumbency advantage in 2024, then Trump’s magic comeback really might happen.
So the media endlessly hypes the notion that Biden won’t run in 2024, and that Trump will. It doesn’t matter that these are both highly unlikely scenarios; this is about ratings.
Actually, it is notable that these are both unlikely scenarios. It underscores one of the most fundamental tricks that the media uses on its worst days to keep the audience’s blood pumping. The media can create the most artificial controversy of all by presenting unlikely scenarios as if they were very likely to happen, while casting artificial doubt on things that actually are very likely to happen – and controversy equals ratings. Then, when things play out exactly like they were always likely to play out, the media can turn around and try to get even more ratings out of it by presenting the obvious outcome as if it were shocking “breaking news” that no one could have seen coming.
Once you see the media relying on these patterns, you can’t unsee it. All you can do is let the media know that you’re no longer willing to put up with these ratings-driven false narratives, and that unless the media is willing to back down, you’ll tune out and stop the media from hitting its ratings marks. That’s the only thing that’ll ultimately cause the media to stop relying on these kinds of narrative tricks.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report