The reality TV candidate sent a fellow reality TV star to the podium to lead off the first night of the Republican National Convention on Monday, and Willie Robertson of "Duck Dynasty" fame took aim at one of Donald Trump's favorite targets: the media.
"It's been a rough year for the media experts," Robertson said. "It must be humbling to be so wrong about so much for so long. But I have a theory about why they missed the Trump train. They don't hang out with regular folks like us, who like to hunt and fish and pray and actually work for a living. Heck, I don't even know that they know how to talk to people from middle America. I mean, when I tell 'em I'm from Louisiana, they really start talking real slow and real loud."
Indeed, many in the media dismissed Trump's candidacy early on. And Robertson's theory about why journalists failed to anticipate his rise sounds a lot like what I heard from ProPublica's Alec MacGillis when we spoke in March after he was awarded the prestigious Toner Prize for political reporting.
"I am very worried about the disconnect between D.C., New York — the coastal bubbles — and the rest of the country," MacGillis told me. "And I think it's gotten a lot worse for a couple reasons. One is that the media has consolidated into those places. The numbers tell the tale. We've lost 12,000 reporters over the last decade around the country, which is a quarter of all newsrooms. Meanwhile, the number of media folks in D.C. has doubled; it's over 2,000 now.
"So you really have fewer [journalists] out there who are talking to these people, picking up their concerns — not just their concerns but digging into things where they live, doing the work of accountability and storytelling in the places where they live.
"On top of that, you have the fact that the gaps between these places have grown so much worse, in terms of their relative rates of prosperity. The basic wealth gap between D.C., New York, a couple other cities and much of the rest of the country has gotten so, so wide in the last few years. So there's a disconnect, and [Trump] has capitalized so much on that disconnect."
Robertson might have been exaggerating just a tad about journalists' slow, loud talking, but his point about not hanging out with "regular folks" from middle America is one that even some reporters would acknowledge as valid.