This is a very convenient theory — one readily embraced by Trump sympathizers.
Wait, 12 different media outlets reported new allegations against Trump all on the same day? Coordinated? Collusion? Nah, can't be— Scott Bleier (@CreateCapital) October 13, 2016
The media is now coordinated in making sleazy attacks on Trump.. innuendos and made up lies str going to come daily now.. Ignore the media— 𝕻𝖗𝖔𝖋 𝕬𝖑𝖎𝖘𝖙𝖊𝖗 𝕸𝖔𝖔𝖉𝖞 (@USAlovesTrumpz) October 13, 2016
In reality, the idea of collusion by the media doesn't make much sense. For a bunch of reasons. Here are six problems with Trump's claim that news outlets are working together and printing "fiction" to take him down.
Trump is totally ignoring the competitive nature of the news business
Let's play out a scenario here: A newspaper has a great scoop. A total bombshell. But instead of publishing right away and reaping all the benefits (credit, Web traffic, advertising money because of said traffic), it decides to wait for some of its media friends to catch up, deliberately rendering its report less special.
Come on. That's not how the news business — or any business — works.
Does the big political media cartel really include People magazine and the Palm Beach Post?
No disrespect to these publications. Seriously. But if the theory is that the New York Times is in cahoots with other media organizations, are we really supposed to believe that its partners in crime are People and the Palm Beach Post?
When Sean Hannity accused a bunch of news outlets of acting as "an extension, in every way imaginable, of the Clinton press office" on his Fox News show Wednesday night, he included the Times, The Washington Post, the Boston Globe, CNN, NBC, CNBC and Univision. It's safe to assume that was only a partial list, but the point is when conservatives talk about an evil media cartel, they talk about outlets with reputations for driving the political conversation nationally. People and the Palm Beach Post just aren't in that club.
Trump invited scrutiny of his treatment of women
On CNN Thursday morning, Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes likened coverage of the current GOP nominee to coverage of the last one, Mitt Romney: "It's the same song, different verse. . .They did everything to demonize him. They talked about him withholding drugs from cancer patients. He put his dog on the roof and women in binders."
Hughes's recap of Romney coverage excluded a lot of context (click the links, above), but let's focus on another major oversight: The latest stories about Trump are fundamentally different from the Romney stories cited by Hughes because Trump is the one who made treatment of women a central campaign issue. Trump is the one who has called Bill Clinton a "predator" and Hillary Clinton an "enabler."
So even if you buy Hughes's basic premise — that the liberal, agenda-driven media tries to dig up dirt on Republicans — you can't apply it here. Trump basically said, "Let's talk about sexual assault," and the media said, "Okay."
The timing of recent reports makes perfect sense
SEVEN ALLEGATIONS against Trump today:— Scott Bixby (@scottbix) October 13, 2016
– Buzzfeed News
– New York Times
– Palm Beach Post
– CBS News
– People Magazine
– NBC News
Suspicious, isn't it, that so many stories about Trump's history with women came out at the same time? Actually, it isn't.
The Washington Post on Friday published a recording from 2005 in which Trump boasted about kissing and groping women without consent and getting away with it because he is famous. Under questioning in Sunday's debate, the GOP nominee said he was just talking and never actually did those things.
Obviously, the next thing for journalists to do was to investigate Trump's claim and publish their findings. Trump practically asked reporters to spend the next few days fact-checking him, and that is exactly what they did.
The media reports are eerily similar
Articles in the New York Times, Palm Beach Post and People magazine about alleged groping incidents all begin the same way — with Trump's accusers watching the debate on Sunday and feeling outraged as the real estate developer denied doing what he had claimed on tape in 2005.
Aren't the similarities evidence of collusion? Only if these publications are really, really bad at carrying out a conspiracy.
Just imagine the end of the media conspiracy conference call on which the plot to publish this defamatory "fiction" was hatched: Now, remember, we're all going to use the same lead anecdote so as to raise suspicions about our coordination.
You can believe that's the way things went. Or you can believe the women really did watch the debate, really were outraged, and that three publications decided those scenes were powerful ways to begin their true stories.
Trump's accusers are not perfect
The perfect Trump accuser would be a Republican, to guard against questions about her political motives, and she would have a sparkling clean personal history, to guard against questions about her credibility.
The two women in the Times story are Clinton supporters; one is a Clinton donor. The woman featured in the Palm Beach Post report, Mindy McGillivray, admitted to "numerous traffic infractions over the years and two felony arrests," according to the paper.
These are not ideal profiles invented for media hit jobs. These are the profiles of real women who know a billionaire will do everything in his power to discredit them but decided to speak up and be transparent, anyway.