Donald Trump’s dominance in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, a once-unfathomable reality, has now become the most likely outcome of Super Tuesday. This has left the GOP establishment, liberals and seasoned pundits scratching their heads — not to mention looking for someone to blame.
For months, the responsibility has often alighted on one group: the media.
As Slate’s Jim Newell pointed out in December, each piece of major Trump news is inevitably followed by meta-commentary from journalists themselves condemning their colleagues for lavishing attention on the billionaire real estate mogul. There was even a time, not so long ago, that the Huffington Post denied Trump’s legitimacy by relegating coverage of his campaign coverage to its. “Entertainment” section.
“Trump is a real, honest-to-goodness celebrity, which makes him American royalty,” wrote Dave Berg, a former producer on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” last December. “It’s time for the mainstream media to stop enabling this Wizard, and start paying attention to the man behind the curtain,” Berg also wrote.
But with debate viewership larger than it has ever been before, television networks are certainly reaping the benefits of having celebrity merge with politics, even if it means watching the country’s would-be leaders descend into petty trash talk.
Leslie Moonves, the chief executive of CBS, shared a candid view of the presidential race on Monday: “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.”
Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco, the Hollywood Reporter reported, Moonves hopes to continue indulging in the “bomb-throwing” “circus” of the 2016 election cycle.
“Most of the ads are not about issues. They’re sort of like the debates,” said Moonves. “Man, who would have expected the ride we’re all having right now? … The money’s rolling in and this is fun.”
And he’s not planning on getting off the ride any time soon: “I’ve never seen anything like this, and this is going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going.”
Moonves has expressed these sentiments before, when the Intercept caught him on a taped call with investors in December.
“We love having all 2016 Republican candidates throwing crap at each other,” he said then. “It’s great.”
Now, more than ever, the statements are being regarded as proof that the media is in cahoots with the Trump campaign. Or, alternatively, that journalists care more about drumming up readers and viewers than they do about the country’s well-being.