On Sunday, Republican Presidential frontrunner and malformed scented candle Donald Trump did interviews with both ABC’s This Week and NBC’s Meet the Press. He followed that up with a Monday morning conversation with Matt Lauer on NBC’s TODAY. In all three instances, the celebrity billionaire called into the shows, doing his interviews over the phone.
This has been Trump’s modus operandi since he first announced he was running for President of the United States back in June. He is constantly willing and able to speak to cable and broadcast news shows but frequently demands that it only be via phone call. And, producers and hosts jump at the opportunity, as they believe just getting the Trumpster on will mean ratings. Therefore, even if The Donald has nothing to say, and will only call in, they let him do so. Which, of course, leads to an excruciating viewer experience due to Trump rambling on while the host is unable to get in a question or truly engage with the GOP frontrunner.
This has been mentioned in the past, with Huffington Post specifically chastising the MSM for allowing Trump to phone in his appearances. Yet, six months into his campaign, both network and cable news continue to jump whenever Trump says he’ll call in. Now, they won’t do this for any other candidate or figure, unless it is surrounding breaking news. And they shouldn’t give Trump this opportunity anymore.
One notable holdout when it comes to phone-in interviews has been Fox News Sunday. Host Chris Wallace has specifically said in the past that he will only allow Trump — or anyone else, for that matter — to sit down in studio or appear via video remote. However, his colleagues at Fox & Friends constantly let Trump call in, sometimes multiple times in one week.
The biggest offenders, besides F&F, appear to be MSNBC and NBC News. Meet the Press host Chuck Todd has let Trump call in multiple times. Meanwhile, you can count on one hand the number of other times Chuck has allowed guests to appear via phone on the show for an interview. Over on MSNBC, Morning Joe does at least one phone interview with the former reality TV star a week, if not more. And those phone calls typically last at least 20 minutes.
Other programs, ranging from CNN’s New Day to the other Sunday shows, are also guilty of giving Trump this privilege. The thing is, it was kind of understandable in the beginning. Trump was the hot story due to his inflammatory remarks, personal attacks and rising poll numbers. He breathed life into the normally dull summer months for news networks. Having him call in meant both a ratings boost and the possibility of him saying something outlandish, thus potentially creating another news cycle worth of Trump coverage.
At this point, though, the networks need to stop allowing Trump to call the shots. The media has to realize that it has the power, not Trump. They can decide on the conditions for an interview, or whether or not to interview him at all. Seriously, he’s conducted hundreds, if not thousands, of media interviews this year. What more do you think you’re going to get from him? I’d think you’d have an idea how these things will go by now. What’s the point, especially if he is just going to phone in, ignore questions and just use the time to say whatever the hell he wants to say.
Beyond that, what public good are these interviews doing? What interest are they serving? In the end, news is not supposed to be about drawing ratings as much as it is to inform the public. I know that is an antiquated and naive idea these days, and the media landscape has changed so much over the years, but you’d hope that there is at least a little bit of journalistic integrity left in the MSM.