When presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made public his contributions to organizations helping war veterans, he directed harsh criticism towards the media, as well as personal insults to a number of journalists who were present. Outraged, the millionaire complained that his good faith was being put in question and that he was not being allowed to perform a good deed anonymously.
Keeping a low profile is not precisely Trump’s style. His self-aggrandizement and a rhetoric rife with vague statements and astonishing exaggerations have driven the media to question everything he says, especially when confusion arises as it did regarding fundraising and veteran donations during his campaign.
The truth is that, if anyone has benefited from media coverage during this election cycle, it is Trump. In the beginning, he was granted an unusual amount of attention and airtime because, unlike his fellow runners, the mogul has been a TV and New York celebrity for 30 years, during which gossip about him, his marriages and his entrepreneurial ups and downs have been the talk of the Big Apple.
Later, when he started to gain momentum in the polls and the primaries, the political phenomenon he unleashed became the center of attention. However, having an interview with Trump over the phone or broadcasting him making a speech or debating has allowed media outlets to reap the benefits of the increased ratings caused by the spectacle of his unpredictable statements. The media has helped the candidate’s popularity grow by giving him a stage that no other candidate has enjoyed.
That is why Trump’s criticism of the media is unfair. In this case, it is known that this is, in part, a conservative scheme to accuse the “liberal media” of persecuting and victimizing that group. But the other part is the candidate’s personality, which does not let anyone examining his actions go without an insult.
The media’s job is to ask questions to presidential candidates to allow voters to learn as much as possible about them before casting their ballot. This is a method of achieving transparency that candidates who are not used to these dynamics need to get comfortable with, as the White House is not a place for authoritarians.