Donald Trump’s presidential campaign may consider Hillary Clinton to be public enemy number one. But the media – and the reporters covering the GOP candidate – are close behind. Take for example, his description of journalists just a few days ago in Tampa.
“These people are among the most dishonest in the world – the media,” Trump said to a roaring crowd. “They are the worst. They’re trying to fix the election for crooked Hillary.”
Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies says the Republican businessman turned candidate is playing to the crowd, which include supporters waving signs and wearing T-shirts blasting the “Liberal Media.”
“You’ve got to imagine Donald Trump has many different of audiences, but his primary audience is those people standing right in front of him at the rally,” she said. “So if he can point back to that platform of reporters and vilify them, that’s a win for Donald Trump.’’
Trump’s strategy is especially interesting given it was only a few months ago that Trump bragged about how little he needed to spend because of all the free media attention he was getting from 24-hour cable news channels broadcasting many of his rallies live.
“He told people he could manipulate people and didn’t have to buy ads because he got all the media coverage he wanted,” she said.
However, McBride said it’s misleading that Trump claims the media is rooting for Clinton, who herself faced criticism for rarely speaking to reporters while on the campaign trail.
“The reporters who cover Hillary Clinton have complained they don’t get access, that she doesn’t hold enough press conferences, or give them opportunities to ask her questions,” she said. “You recall there was this famous image of a bunch of reporters being cordoned off by a plastic tape like they were cattle or something. So Hillary Clinton is not exactly a friend to the media.”
As a result, both Clinton and Trump have made covering the presidential election more difficult for reporters, McBride said.
“It is the media’s job to find a way to have access to the candidates so they can get information to get to the public,” she said. “And that’s what’s been difficult with both these candidates.”