The Media and Donald Trump: A Difficult Breakup


Darin Buenaluz, Staff Writer

Depending on whom you ask, Jan. 20, was either the greatest or worst day in the history of recent American politics. President Donald Trump had officially finished his four-year term after ending it on a controversial note that was the Jan. 6 incident at the Capitol. With Joe Biden entering office, some had high hopes for his presidency. Others might have guessed that Trump would keep a somewhat low profile after leaving office, but eight months later the media still features countless headlines about one of the U.S.’ most polarizing political figures. The Donald Trump that the world knows could not exist without the media, and the media in the current day and age could not exist without Donald Trump. He provides news anchors, social media users, and celebrities with content to discuss (and sometimes argue) about due to the manner he presents himself and his opinions, further intensifying an already hostile political environment. 

Former President Trump has been very vocal in his criticism of the Biden Administration, speaking at major Republican events and on national television about his intentions to run for reelection in 2024. He has also shared his opinions regarding the current mass influx of migration and smuggling at the southern border, the view of his radical side of supporters that took part in the Jan. 6 incident at the Capitol, and other large political events.

“I am not the one trying to undermine American democracy, I am the one trying to save it,’” said Trump at a GOP convention in June.

In response, national and social media, as well as many Democratic politicians, have been concise in their views about the former president and the influence he has over his supporters, both among the American public and on Capitol Hill. 

“‘Trumpism is not dead in this country,’” said California Governor Gavin Newsom in a speech covered by CNN after winning the state’s recall election to have him replaced. 

“Trumpism” in part refers to the association of opinions or actions which fall in line with the former president’s, as well as the manner in which they are expressed. However, this phrase has sometimes been misused or even abused for political gain. For example, many advertisements made by large Democratic names in support of Gavin Newsom coined the effort to recall him as headed by “Trump Republicans.” This serves as an analogy to the actions of Trump supporters shortly after the results of the 2020 Presidential Election were released, in which a movement, largely led by Trump himself, came to believe that the election had been rigged. 

There are many reasons why the media can’t seem to stop talking about Trump, but one of the biggest factors is viewership, which in turn creates profit. Many media outlets saw a significant increase in viewership following Trump’s announcement to run for president in 2015. When he left office, the dependency that many outlets had on Donald Trump for staying relevant and thus profitable was exposed.

“All of the cable news networks saw ratings declines compared to the second quarter of 2020, with CNN experiencing the biggest year-over-year drop in prime time, down 57%. Fox News declined by 42%, and MSNBC had the smallest drop among total viewers in prime, down 37%,” said Forbes

Another major reason is that a large portion of national media figures, from news anchors to talk hosts to celebrities, all share a similar political view that heavily contrasts with and is very belittling of Trump. Hollywood and Manhattan provide seemingly endless proof of this, from James Corden mocking Trump’s final day in the presidential office with a parody of Les Miserables, Seth Meyers calling Trump’s plans to run for president as a joke four years before he publicly announced it, to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow sarcastically assuring her audience the morning after Trump’s election win in Nov. 2016 that they haven’t gone to Hell or aren’t dreaming, as if his victory in securing the Oval Office spelled the end of the U.S. as we know it. This almost unanimous and arguably narrow minded political view, which is also shared on social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, has created an uncomfortable environment for the minority of celebrities who hold differing political views.

“That’s hardly comforting to the artists who fear losing their livelihoods for voting the ‘wrong’ way or expressing the ‘wrong’ political beliefs,” said an article from The Hill.

However, former president Trump wouldn’t be relevant to talk about if he wasn’t a special character. What the media, America and the world found in Donald Trump was one of the most vocal and divisive figures in U.S. history. A Brookings survey found that most members from the American Political Science Association agree that Donald Trump has been the most polarizing president by a fair margin. The former president has provided countless examples of how he has divided both the country and his own party. His plans for building a wall along the Southern border to limit illegal immigration and smuggling of drugs and to make Mexico fund it, the justification for calling the coronavirus a “Chinese virus,” and his invitation of Russia to the 2019 G7 Summit are examples of some of the topics that have brought much controversy with the former president.

While a fair amount of points that Donald Trump makes aren’t unreasonable, his delivery of these points are what causes conflict. He makes his arguments as either-or fallacies, where disagreement is equivalent to opposition. As a result, the Republican Party and Republican supporters around the United States are divided, with some choosing to support the former president’s aggressive rhetoric while others remain more cool headed. 

The relationship between Donald Trump and the media is unlikely to improve, especially with the former president referring to the outlets that are out for him as “fake news.” But regardless of what you think of former president Trump or the big names that have been criticizing him since his presidential run in 2015, including many news anchors and big celebrities in Hollywood and New York, the fact remains that Donald Trump aggravated an existing hostile and divisive political battlefield in America, and his influence is unlikely to leave in the near future. At the very least, the arguments about him from all sides of the political spectrum are amusing to watch.


Photo Courtesy of Mark Humphrey