The perception that the media are out to get Donald Trump — and that he does not get treated fairly — has been been around since he descended the escalator at Trump Tower on June 16, 2015, to announce his candidacy for president.
While that charge has some merit, I think it is more of a case of Hillary Clinton getting the benefit of the doubt when the media should have been doubting and challenging her a lot more.
Fact is, I don’t think any Republican or Democrat who participated in the 2016 presidential nominating process gained as much from media exposure as Trump. No one capitalized more from or personified the maxim better: “The only bad media is no media.”
Trump was lavished with media attention all during the nomination process. I would argue his strategy of blasting his way to the top was calculated and effective beyond his camp’s wildest dreams. With little or no money along the way, it separated him from the pack and bought him a ticket to Cleveland to claim the GOP nomination.
Never miss a local story.
But now that we are in the final stretch of the election — it is less than 75 days out from Nov. 8 and people in some states will begin early voting in a month — I think it is time for the media to turn up the heat on what I have called the Hillary Clinton stealth campaign. For too long the only person questioning Clinton was her former Democratic opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders.
For much of this campaign it has a been a struggle to find as many commentary pieces and even editorial cartoons to publish in the Statesman that were scrutinizing or critical of Clinton. Not enough were being produced to balance all of the coverage of Trump and his various claims, outbursts and offenses.
Trashing Trump has become a global sport that so many have taken up, they could form their own leagues. Granted, Trump is deserving of a lot of it. The Statesman Editorial Board has roundly criticized him for saying stupid things about Idaho Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — who may be judged a deserter and may end up behind bars someday — but nobody, especially someone running for president, should judge him as a traitor yet. Trump’s ideas about “extreme” vetting of immigrants drew my criticism because I can’t imagine how that would fairly and consistently be accomplished. Plus, we should face up to the reality that the perpetrators of some deadly terror attacks in the U.S. have at times involved our own radicalized citizens.
On the other hand, I have opined that it is regrettable Clinton has had too much of a free pass until recently. Someone who ignores transparency and is sloppy with classified information — someone who can’t come clean at a news conference (she hasn’t held one in the past 260 days) — leaves me with the impression she’s hiding something. It is time we find out whether that is the case by examining Clinton’s other emails and the protocols of the Clinton Foundation.
I don’t think Trump has received any more scrutiny than any presidential candidate would who careens around the atmosphere. At the same time, I would like to see my journalistic colleagues amp up the scrutiny of Clinton.