Is Trump the Media’s Fault?

With the exception of outright lying news articles on Facebook, the mainstream media gets more blame for Trump’s rise than anything else.  I’m a little offended.

People who blame the media for Trump have it exactly backwards.  The media didn’t enable Trump to rise, Trump exploited the media for his own gain.  Some complaints about the media were that they didn’t take him seriously at the start of the primary.  Which is dumb, because no one took him seriously then.  His opponents didn’t even bother attacking him directly, they tried to brush him off as a joke.  So the media duly reported that.  When his opponents began to scramble to fight off this unexpected situation, the media reported that too.  The problem was that Trump was so much better at fighting back, and using the media as a tool to do so.  As he did better and better, the media simply reported what he said and what was going on.  Who could blame them?  Their ratings were better than ever, and it wasn’t their job to fight in the primary.  It was the wannabe-nominees’ job to do the fighting.  When people blame the media for their role all they’re doing is demonstrating their ignorance of what the media’s role actually is.

The primary reason that CNN, Fox News, the New York Times, and all the other media outlets exist is to sell themselves.  They make money for their owners.  It really is as simple as that.  Journalistic ethics are a nice way of pretending that they are more than a simple money-making scheme, but those will always be second primary to the main goal of selling themselves.  Individual journalists might have other ideas, but those aren’t worth much compared to the goals of the organizations as a whole.  Facebook shows the lying articles not because they have a philosophical bent, but because people click on them.  It’s really no more complicated than that.

We would be far better served by having a more accurate view of what the media is, and why we consume it.  There’s a reason echo chambers exist.  Not just because they’re easy, but because we like them.  We like that we hear things that already agree with our pre-conceived notions.  We like hearing how deluded the other side is.  And the media will be happy to give us exactly what we want.  If we have a better idea of why we consume what we do, that will help inoculate us against the many disadvantages of doing so.  Reading a fake article knowing their only goal is to get clicks puts it in perspective.

Trump won because he was the best campaigner.  He had a greater emotional connection to the electorate, therefore they responded to him.  All the media did was report that connection.  You can’t blame them because Trump is good at doing what he does.


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