If you’re a regular viewer of Morning Joe on MSNBC, you’d hardly know that a woman named Hillary Clinton exists, let alone that she’s running for president.
Hey, it’s only a three-hour show and it’s tough to squeeze in bad news about Hillary when Donald is providing so much fun material to use against him.
I recently wrote in connection with Trump and his many critics that when someone is trying to shoot you, you don’t hand him the gun, which I said Trump was doing on a regular basis. I now have second thoughts. It’s not a gun Trump is handing his critics both inside and outside the media. It’s a cannon. And he’s supplying them with cannon balls just about every day.
For the record, I’m not really picking on Morning Joe. They’re hardly alone in their fascination with Donald Trump and their reluctance to spoil the fun by dragging the considerably duller Mrs. Clinton into the party.
Even NPR, an organization no one confuses with Fox News, has noticed what’s going on.
“The question is repeated in one form or another millions of times a day in social media and random conversation. It comes primarily from the backers of Donald Trump, but also from others — including the simply curious:
“Why are the media obsessed with Trump’s controversies and not Clinton’s?”
Ron Elving, who wrote the piece on NPR’s website, might just as well have asked: Why do people driving 60 miles an hour slow down to gawk at car wrecks?
Or as he put it: “Talking about the potential for corruption in some of Clinton’s practices is serious business, but it is dull compared with watching one’s daily dose of the Donald.”
Television news tolerates many things – but being dull is not one of them. Dull scares away viewers. There is no bigger sin in TV.
So let me ask you this: Which is more interesting, in a shallow, shiny objects TV news kind of way — another story about Hillary’s emails or Donald on live TV saying that President Obama and Hillary Clinton founded ISIS?
Which is easier to grasp — a murky “pay for play” tale involving the Clinton Foundation or an easy to understand fight with a Gold Star family?
Which is more likely to keep you watching — a story about how Hillary is running to extend President Obama’s legacy despite the fact that his signature piece of legislation – ObamaCare – is a mess; that premiums didn’t go down as promised but continue to go up at staggering rates … or … a story about Donald’s ambiguous remarks suggesting that “Second Amendment people” somehow deal with Mrs. Clinton to make sure she doesn’t appoint anti-gun judges to the Supreme Court?
So here’s my free advice to the people who at least nominally run the Trump campaign: Lock Donald up in his yuge penthouse in the Trump Tower and don’t let him out for two weeks. Take away all his electronic devices and make sure he doesn’t send out even one tweet. Take away his cell phone and disconnect his land line to make sure he doesn’t call in to any show and say … anything!
How would the media react to a Donald Trump news blackout? If he’s not saying something outrageous, if he’s gone dark for two weeks, wouldn’t that give the folks on Morning Joe and others in the media time to focus on her for a change?
In a word: No.
They’d focus on Donald J. Trump anyway. Where is he? Why is he being held incommunicado? Is he sick? Is he … dead?
In the real world of mass media, where ratings and the profits they produce count for more than just about anything else, there is no ignoring Donald Trump – whether he’s at a rally saying something ridiculous or whether he’s locked up and saying absolutely nothing.