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Donald Trump: Media Creation

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

And which came first, Donald Trump's wall-to-wall media coverage, or his (relatively) high poll numbers?

Often, media entities justify their Trump saturation by citing the polls. Well, he's the front-runner, so we have to cover him.

But didn't they create him in the first place? Weren't they giving him more media coverage than all other candidates combined before he was ever the frontrunner? Yes. That is indeed what happened.

Let's look at the numbers.

According to the University of Pennsylvania (Donald Trump's own alma mater for B-school), Donald Trump began dominating media coverage in mid-June 2015, but his poll surge did not begin until a month later (click image for larger version):

(click for larger version)

Note that Donald Trump's media domination-- and "domination" likely actually undersells the point-- began when he was in 9th or 10th place in the polls. It was weeks later before his poll surge began. Weeks upon weeks of getting at least three times more media coverage than all other candidates combined.

Donald Trump, to his credit, not only did not flame out as many candidates might have in such an overexposed media environment, he took advantage of his ample media opportunities. And, again, to his credit, Donald Trump created many of the media opportunities, making himself available for television and radio more than some other candidates.

But if we're wondering who created Donald Trump, sure, Barack Obama does bear some blame. It was indeed eight years of increasingly militant political correctness, stagnating economic malaise, and pusillanimous "America-last" foreign policy under a beta male President that created the underlying conditions, but Donald Trump was still a media creation.

Indeed, many candidates in the field could have served as that response to the past eight years of "cool, weak, and endlessly nuanced" governance, but Donald Trump was just more entertaining and thus better for ratings.

Now let's do a quick thought experiment. What happens if Donald Trump becomes the Republican nominee?

Which is more likely, that Donald Trump continues receiving 80% of the media coverage, or that it becomes more of a 50/50 split with Hillary Clinton?

Which is more likely, that Donald Trump pivots to the general election while simultaneously winning over the #NeverTrump conservative base, or that he is easily painted as a sexist, racist, unstable fraudster and so forth and so on, by Democrats?

Which is more likely? That the same media which created Donald Trump continues to grant him unprecedented access and exposure through November, or that the collective media establishment destroys the monster they regret having created, reaping a ratings bonanza either way?

Which is more likely? That the vast majority of polls showing Donald Trump losing to Hillary Clinton are either wrong or can be reversed over the next several months due to skeptical Republicans coming around to him and through the sheer skill and brilliance of Donald Trump to win over untapped voters (or, perhaps something like an unlikely felony indictment of Hillary Clinton), or that it is all but inevitable that Donald Trump will lose in November?

Perhaps, since we're doing a thought experiment here, Donald Trump has received such dominating levels of news coverage because the establishment media wants to ensure an easy victory for their favored former First Lady?

Months ago, I might've explained this entire political cycle this way: Donald Trump first rose in the polls primarily due to celebrity name identification then remained there due to ample media coverage justified by his (name ID-driven) initial polling.

But that isn't really what happened. Donald Trump rose in the polls only after a month of complete media saturation.

Here's the media domination by itself:


Here's the poll visual by itself:


The numbers are clear. Donald Trump's unprecedented media coverage preceded his first poll surge by weeks. Donald Trump is unequivocally a media creation.

Posted by Will Franklin · 4 March 2016 01:00 PM