As Red Sox slugger David Ortiz approached retirement last month, he wrote a gracious message to fans of the rival New York Yankees: “Thank you. For real. You pulled the best out of me.” After years of being booed, Ortiz recognized that criticism made him better.
Donald Trump is no David Ortiz. Rather than appreciate the value of having critics to motivate him and hold him accountable, the Republican presidential nominee would prefer to expunge them. So he is presumably cackling over the latest development in the media industry, as reported in the Wall Street Journal:
Newspapers are suffering an accelerating drop in print advertising, a market that already was under stress, forcing some publishers to consider significant cost cuts and dramatic changes to their print and digital products.Global spending on newspaper print ads is expected to decline 8.7 percent to $52.6 billion in 2016, according to estimates from GroupM, the ad-buying firm owned by WPP PLC. That would be the biggest drop since the recession, when worldwide spending plummeted 13.7 percent in 2009.
Trump routinely mocks news outlets as “failing” or “dying” and takes pleasure in financial losses, circulation declines and the thought that various newspapers and magazines will one day go out of business.
“Good news,” Trump told supporters at a rally in Colorado this week. “Most of them won't be around for much longer, in my opinion. They're going down.”
All politicians complain about media coverage. But most recognize the important role that the press plays as a check against power.
“I am delighted to thank you for the important work you do every day,” Hillary Clinton told a gathering of journalists in August. “And now, more than ever, we need you to keep holding leaders and candidates accountable.”
To be clear, Clinton does not always act like she is “delighted” and thankful for the work of reporters. Before allowing her traveling press corps to fly on the same plane as her, beginning on Labor Day weekend, Clinton was notoriously inaccessible for much of the campaign. Up to that point, she had not held a news conference all year, though she had agreed to many interviews.
Even at her most standoffish, however, Clinton did not project a desire for news organizations to die off. In contrast, Trump tells voters to “forget the press; read the Internet.”
Trump sometimes exaggerates the plight of newspapers, as he did in January when he claimed that the circulation of the Union Leader of Manchester, N.H., “has dropped from 75,000 to around 10.” Even if we assume he meant 10,000 — not literally 10 newspapers — Trump was way off. The Union Leader's average weekday circulation in 2015 was 35,831; on Sundays, it was 47,803.
While we can fact-check the particulars, there is no denying the underlying truth of Trump's message. Many media companies are mired in business struggles, as the figures reported by the Wall Street Journal show.
For the purposes of Trump's White House campaign, media woes are good news. He has said that he is “running against the crooked media,” so what could be better than seeing his “opponent's” numbers fall?