Pew offers the most compelling evidence yet of what’s now become overwhelmingly obvious: The media’s willingness to treat Donald Trump’s candidacy as a real possibility is primarily what has turned his candidacy into a real possibility:
Donald Trump has drawn a lot of attention in a slow-starting race for the GOP nomination. Roughly a quarter of all Americans (26%) name Trump as the possible Republican presidential candidate they have heard most about lately, far more than volunteer any other candidate. Among Republicans, 39% name Trump as most visible — more than all other possible GOP candidates combined.
Trump has shrewdly figured out that the quickest and easiest way to get attention from media outlets and GOP establishment figures alike is to traffic extensively in birther falsehoods. Media outlets have, in fairness, done a good job in debunking Trump’s newly-minted birtherism. But as I noted here the other day, there’s simply no percentage in debunking Trump’s birther declarations — that’s exactly what he wants us to do.
Indeed, Trump’s birther strategy has given rise to what might be called the Trump conundrum: Is there any real point in fact-checking someone who has adopted a deliberate strategy of trafficking in lies in order to get media attention?
As Trump well knows, media attention — positive or negative — is the only currency that counts at this stage of the game. And as the Pew poll bears out, his strategy is working brilliantly.