This account of remorse among staffers at the major news networks caught our eye:
… Two network sources also confirmed the unprecedented control the television networks have surrendered to Trump in a series of private negotiations, allowing him to dictate specific details about placement of cameras at his event, to ensure coverage consists primarily of a single shot of his face.
Network officials say the ratings have borne out commercial incentives to devote their campaign coverage to largely unfiltered streams of Trump talking. Trump’s presence in the race has also been good for local television stations who reap the benefits of increased spending on advertisements. CBS CEO Les Moonves quipped that Trump “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS, that’s all I got to say.” …
The symbiotic relationship between television news and Trump began, innocently enough, as a summer fling. The cable networks found their answer to the typically slower summer news cycle the moment Trump descended the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his candidacy to a lobby full of onlookers, some of them paid actors. Producers at several networks said they initially treated his candidacy as a joke, albeit a highly entertaining one.
Trump’s rallies became must-see daytime and primetime television on cable, pre-empting regularly scheduled newscasts and driving the day-to-day news cycle. Even when he was embroiled in controversy, Trump’s availability to the media for interviews, either on camera or by phone, shocked producers accustomed to dealing with difficult-to-book candidates.
As one veteran producer said, “He’ll throw a hand grenade in, and then will come on to us to talk about it.” …
Trump fever continued into the fall, even as challenges emerged between the networks and the Trump campaign over press access at the candidate’s rallies. After several incidents of Trump campaign aides threatening to revoke credentials for reporters who left the fenced-in press pen, representatives from ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, Fox News, and CNN organized a conference call with Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to negotiate access.
According to two sources familiar with the call, the Trump campaign, citing security concerns from Secret Service, dictated to the networks that their camera crews could only shoot Trump head-on from a fenced-in press pen.
Under the Trump campaign’s conditions, camera crews would not be able to leave the press pen during Trump’s rallies to capture video of audience reactions, known in the industry as “cutaway shots” or “cuts.” Networks would also not be able to use a separate riser set up to get cutaway shots.
The terms, which limit the access journalists have to supporters and protesters while Trump is speaking, are unprecedented, and are more restrictive than those put on the networks by the White House or Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which has had Secret Service protection for its duration.
Facing the risk of losing their credentialed access to Trump’s events, the networks capitulated. They did, however, get one concession: When Trump finishes speaking, one person with a camera is allowed to exit the press pen to capture him shaking hands on the ropeline while he exits. That footage is then shared among the networks.
When Trump complains that the media does not “turn the cameras” to show the size of his crowds, it’s because, unless they turn or zoom out the head on camera, there is no separate angle to show the crowd. …
Fascinating. We also initially treated his candidacy as a joke, albeit a highly entertaining one, and welcomed the interest and controversy he generated as “good for business.”