The Thing I’ve Gotten Most Wrong in My Career

I’ve gotten a lot wrong in life. Heck, I’ve gotten a lot wrong this campaign year. I was in the contingent that thought Trump would fade. I was in the contingent that thought the polling must be wrong. I got that all wrong. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

Over the past number of years people have called my radio show or written to me at RedState and now here at The Resurgent to tell me I needed to cover fringe candidate X. If only I and others would cover that candidate, that candidate would gain traction. I have always denied this. I have always presumed a candidate with standing so small as to need attention was a candidate who could not gain traction even with the media.

I was flat out wrong.

The President of the United States, in his remarks this weekend to the White House Correspondents Dinner, was on point about the media coverage of Donald Trump. No candidate could compete against that. Trump is allowed to call in to programs where others are expected to be on set. When Trump goes on programs he gets asked softball questions and the other candidates, when they appear, are asked questions responding to Trump.

I have so naively thought the media could not create candidates. But Donald Trump’s campaign is a media created phenomenon. What makes it worse is that the media denies it at all costs, unwilling to admit what they have done. Certainly, Donald Trump tapped into grievances percolating beneath the surface of American politics, but the media’s amplification and maximization of Trump’s airtime is something no other candidate has gotten.

Neither Hillary Clinton nor Bernie Sanders nor Ted Cruz get live CNN coverage of their campaign planes landing.

The irony of all of this is that so many of Donald Trump’s supporters claim the media has chosen their candidates in the past and siding with Trump is a rejection of the media picking candidates. In fact, no candidate running for President can compete with the free media Donald Trump has gotten and in the general election neither Trump nor the Republicans, if he is the nominee, should expect that free ride to continue.

For the American media, ratings are everything. Turns out Joe Blow from the boonies could be a front runner if the media dedicated 50% of their media coverage to giving him a free ride.

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Erick Erickson

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