New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof rued the media’s addiction to President Trump and jokingly called on Trump to “excoriate” him so he wouldn’t feel left out in an op-ed on Saturday
News organizations, especially cable television channels, feed off Trump — like oxpeckers on a rhino’s back — for he is part of our business model in 2018. As long as our focus is on Trump, audiences follow.
It’s not optimal to have as president an authoritarian who denounces journalists as enemies of the people, but he has given us a sense of mission and a “Trump bump.” Every time he denounces us we get more subscriptions.
(If you’re reading this, President Trump, I’d appreciate a good, thunderous excoriation. You’ve gone after Maggie Haberman, Don Lemon and Chuck Todd, but you’ve publicly denounced me only once — and so incoherently that I couldn’t print out a quote to impress my kids. Next time you’re on Twitter, how about firing off something concise like: “Crackpot Krisitofff is the WORST lying reporter at the FAILING NYTimes EVER!!!”)
Kristof said all the attention on Trump takes away from other important issues and labels the addition to the various scandals as “Trump porn.”
Yet I worry that our national nonstop focus on Trump is helping to usher America into a hole: a Trump obsession. The danger is that Trump sucks up all the oxygen, so that other issues don’t get adequate attention.
In America today, it’s all Trump, all the time. We’re collectively addicted to him. The nonstop scandals and outrages suck us in; they amount to Trump porn.
According to Kristof, issues that are being ignored or pushed aside include the genocide in Myanmar, tensions in the Middle East and the dangers of malaria and admits that he too is guilty of being addicted to Trump.
I’m addicted myself, which is why I write so much about Trump — or catch myself on a date night with my wife engaging in horrified conversation about Trump.
Kristof also criticizes liberals for allowing Trump to define the agenda and calls them “pathetic” for not being interested in topics if Trump isn’t.
There’s some danger, I think, that progressives come to care primarily about issues where Trump is involved, allowing him to define the agenda. For example, the best single way to break cycles of poverty is probably with early childhood programs for at-risk kids, but because Trump doesn’t care about this, liberals don’t seem much interested, either. That’s pathetic
The addiction to Trump is nothing new. The media has been feeding off of him ever since he declared he was running for president in 2015 and started attracting large crowds everywhere he went. Even the uber-liberal cable news network MSNBC pre-empted regular programming to cover Trump’s campaign rallies as they were better ratings-wise for the network.
Despite Kristof’s plea to fight back, the path of least resistance and higher ratings and profits for the media is to maintain their current coverage of Trump.