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Add Chuck Todd to the list of media personalities who are totally unfair to Donald Trump.
“Meet the Press” has always been one of several Sunday morning programs where candidates or elected officials could appear live on the show to promote themselves or their positions, hence the name of the show. Trump, up until this point, has gotten away with being the only candidate allowed to phone in and participate in pre-recorded audio interviews instead of appearing on the show like everyone else.
Chuck Todd recently told Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times that he has decided not to allow Donald Trump to call into “Meet the Press” any longer. He will be forced to appear live on camera if he wants to participate, like everyone else. So unfair.
As Rutenberg points out in his piece titled “The Mutual Dependence of Trump and the News Media,” when you’re focusing on ratings instead of standards, it is easy to see why news organizations have been bending over backwards to accommodate Trump. In fact, he may have single-handedly saved CNN from extinction:
CNN entered the campaign season in a very different position. Some 18 months ago Wall Street analysts were questioning whether the network, then sinking near 20-year ratings lows, had a place in the new ecosystem of “unlimited real-time information,” as my colleague Emily Steel wrote at the time. With CNN’s debates and heavy coverage of Mr. Trump, the network’s ratings have increased about 170 percent in prime time this year.
That’s more than a reason to boast; it’s an adrenaline shot to the heart.
Understandably, Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN Worldwide, was beaming when I saw him at a lunch with other reporters last week. “These numbers are crazy — crazy,” he said, referring to the ratings. How crazy? Two-hundred-thousand-dollars-per-30-second-spot crazy on debate nights, 40 times what CNN makes on an average night, according to Advertising Age. That’s found money.
But even CNN now tells him:
it would think twice before giving full coverage to a Trump news conference that devolves into an infomercial.
And lest we forget, “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” has been adamant not to give Trump special treatment from the beginning, as Rutenberg explains:
And yet, as the campaign began in earnest, all of the shows went along with Mr. Trump’s insistence that he “appear” by phone — all except one, “Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace.”
“I just thought even if we took a ratings hit — and to some degree we did — it was a line worth holding,” Mr. Wallace told me.
So, is the media tide turning? Rutenberg adds:
I thought I might be witnessing a midcampaign course correction. But then I tuned in to “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” on ABC and there was Mr. Trump, or, that is, his disembodied voice.
Well, it’s probably too much to hope for many others to follow the path of Chuck Todd and Chris Wallace, but if the major Sunday shows start requiring Trump to appear in person or via remote studio, it will at least create some parity in a primary season where Trump has received nearly $2 BILLION in free media coverage.
$2 billion. But remember, the media is so unfair.