Do the media need to adapt to Donald Trump? And for what?

Donald Trump isn’t a regular politician, but his manners are effective. He proved this by winning the Presidential Election. How should the press adapt to this fact? And adapting for what?

Chris Cillizza on The Washington Post:

The election of Donald Trump was a through-the-looking-glass moment in American politics. As in, everything that we — the collective political horde — thought was conclusive about how you win an election (outspend your opponent, build a better organization, lead in polling, run more TV ads) was disproved in one fell swoop on Nov. 8. Trump did everything wrong — by these traditional standards — and he won. […]

The “rules” said it couldn’t happen. Trump, to his immense credit, understood that a) flouting the rules actually endeared him to a big swath of voters and b) there just might not be any real rules at all. […]

Trump is like nothing else we’ve ever seen in modern American politics. We all need to adjust accordingly.

I don’t consider myself a member of the “collective political horde”, as I’m neither a journalist nor a pundit nor anything like that. I’m just a guy trying to understand what’s going on with the help of science and critical thinking. I stand as a non-partisan (and modest) observer. But it was striking how the “collective political horde” completely missed the victory of Donald Trump 1.

I agree with Chris: Trump isn’t a regular politician. Maybe that’s why he got so many votes – because a significant part of voters just wanted to try something different. The rise of “alternative” leaders in Europe can (at least partially) be understood in the very same way. It’s hard to believe that a lot of people who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and for Trump this year suddenly became racists. I don’t buy that (even if some authentic racists voted for Trump, don’t get me wrong on that).

I have absolutely no legitimacy to tell the media what to do with Trump, even less any desire to. But there’s one relevant question about this adapt thing: why? Is it to better inform the audience (which seems OK to me)? Or is it to find a way to “fight” Trump? I speak for myself, but what I found disappointing with the mass media during the Election was how too many journalists and editorial boards put ideology and beliefs and stuff like this before the need to properly inform a) the general audience b) themselves. Because the vast majority of journalists and pundits were the first to be shocked by the election of Donald Trump!

In other words: what if the era of paternalist mass media were over? What if the need to adapt Chris wrote about is to abandon overpartisanship and moral paternalism? You don’t need to be neither partisan nor paternalist to better inform the public. As a reader, if I were satisfied with the mass media I wouldn’t have created The Signal. Just sayin’…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *