The Media Buy In to Donald Trump’s Authoritarian America


Bill Boyarsky | Truthdig | February 23, 2016

  Donald Trump calls on a member of the media during a news conference Monday in Hanahan, S.C. (Matt Rourke / AP)

It was inevitable. The bullying, authoritarian Donald Trump is now accepted as part of the mainstream.

He seems to be appealing not only to Republicans and independents but also to a handful of Democrats. Early in the presidential nomination campaign, journalists acted as though they would quickly cut him down to size. Now they are treating the onetime laughingstock with respect. Cable news hosts await his phone calls and permit him to rant at length. His victory Saturday in South Carolina’s primary will undoubtedly make them even more welcoming. His outrageous statements will continue to be considered funny, endearing gaffes. Pushed to the background are his inflammatory demands for deportation of undocumented Latinos and his attacks on Muslims.

The practices of 21st-century journalism are playing into this scheme. On the Internet, the number of readers is measured in clicks or views, and the number of views for a particular story influences the way website managers display stories. This has long been true for broadcast media. Trump draws clicks and television ratings. He is encouraged, as if he is a regular candidate rather than what Vox’s Ezra Klein called “the most dangerous major candidate for president in memory.”

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