Throughout the 2016 election cycle, the media was far softer on Donald Trump than it objectively should have been. It aired long stretches of his campaign rallies without interruption or fact checking. It largely failed to adequately pursue his lifetime of financial crimes. It gave Trump a comparative free pass while putting the far more competent and less scandalous Hillary Clinton through the wringer. Many observers have long suspected the media was soft on Trump because it wanted the ratings. Now Trump himself is flat out admitting it.
Trump granted an interview to the New York Times this week. Most of his answers were rambling and lying nonsense. But somewhere in there, in an incredibly rare fit of irony, he blurted this out (link): “We’re going to win another four years for a lot of reasons, most importantly because our country is starting to do well again and we’re being respected again. But another reason that I’m going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes. Without me, The New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times. So they basically have to let me win.”
By asserting that the media is planning to let him win in 2020 for the sake of ratings, Trump is admitting that the media helped him win in 2016 for the sake of ratings. This is a stunning admission, and it suggests that as Trump sinks further into the mental abyss, he’s unable to stop himself from admitting things like this. He is, however, wrong about one thing. In fact he has a fundamental misunderstanding of why this happened.
The media wasn’t necessarily trying to help Donald Trump win in 2016. Instead, the media appeared to have been giving Trump a free pass because it wanted a horse race between him and frontrunner Hillary Clinton, which would be good for ratings, and it thought she would win no matter how much it slanted things in Trump’s direction. There is no reason to expect that the media will consciously try to usher Trump into a second term. In fact, there is no reason to believe that Trump will still be in office by 2020. In fact he’s more likely to be in prison than in the Oval Office by the end of this four year term.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report