A Politico survey of 80 campaign reporters finds they think their peers have failed American democracy by elevating Donald Trump. On a scale of 1 to 10, they give the press a 5.7 for its coverage of the 2016 campaign. But one survey question is particularly noteworthy in the way it implies that Trump clickbait is why he won 10 million primary votes:
“CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves has said that Trump’s success ‘may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.’ On a scale from 1 (not a chance) to 10 (most definitely), how much do you think an impulse for traffic, viewership, clicks, etc., among journalists has contributed to Trump’s success so far?”
The reporters surveyed give this an 8.5. Which is insane. It is not true, and you should be skeptical that they even believe it.
Trump gets a lot of press because he’s interesting. His past is interesting, his path to Republican politics is interesting, his populist platform is interesting, his disinterest in political analysis any deeper than cable news is interesting, his use of social media to win supporters by saying things that would hurt most candidates is interesting. Most important, the fact that he’s so popular is interesting. That so many people want to vote for this guy is interesting. That’s why he drives pageviews—both his fans and the people horrified by his fans want to read about him. There’s no reason to feel bad for writing about Trump. It’s a crazy story.