How Trump Bent Television To His Will

 

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.”

Your thoughts?

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There are 40 comments.

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  1. Inactive

    Ain’t it awful? A Republican candidate makes the press dance to his tune like the Democrats have for decades.

    • #1
    • March 19, 2016, at 3:03 AM PDT
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  2. Member

    He has for years run a media circus entertaining the folks with mild to moderate scandalous behavior. He is about to ride that Schick into either the white house or to raging defeat, who really knows? And no one, I mean NOONE, really knows what he will do if elected. At the best this is a tremendously giant gamble……. With our liberty.

    • #2
    • March 19, 2016, at 3:31 AM PDT
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  3. Inactive

    First sentence of the Buzzfeed article: “Staffers at the five major television networks are grappling with what role their organizations may have played in amplifying Donald Trump’s successful campaign of insults, generalizations about minority groups, and at times flat-out lies.”

    Also, Make America Great Again, Stave off Illegal Immigration and Stop the Chopping Off of Heads of Christians in the Middle East.

    Somehow in all their focused coverage the staffers missed those.

    • #3
    • March 19, 2016, at 5:15 AM PDT
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  4. Inactive

    There is a reason why TMZ has more viewers than CSPAN.

    • #4
    • March 19, 2016, at 5:20 AM PDT
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  5. Inactive

    “the Trump campaign, citing security concerns from Secret Service, dictated to the networks that their camera crews could only . . .”

    Anybody check with Secret Service to see if there were extraordinary threats that might prompt such measures? Doesn’t sound like Buzzfeed bothered to.

    • #5
    • March 19, 2016, at 5:38 AM PDT
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  6. Contributor

    Not only did he get many billions in free exposure but the constant news coverage by MSM has caused the fraying of civility.

    Ie: Last nights incessant coverage of a group of Trump protesters we had repeated ‘F bombs’ both verbally and visually printed on poster boards.

    It’s ugly and embarrassing.

    • #6
    • March 19, 2016, at 5:42 AM PDT
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  7. Inactive

    I can’t even bear to watch my previously-trusted news shows anymore. It’s all Trump, all the time. (To quote Charlie Brown, “I can’t stand it. I just can’t stand it.”)

    This candidate, and this election, has the potential to drive well-meaning conservative types inward, as the public square seems to be little more than an unthinking, unruly mob. We’re doomed to government by the authoritarian left, or an authoritarian demagogue of questionable intelligence and sanity.

    • #7
    • March 19, 2016, at 5:56 AM PDT
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  8. Member

    “But many inside the networks are growing increasingly disturbed with what they’ve helped create.”

    Interesting. I keep reading this sentiment — reads more like crocodile tears. On the one hand, this is why I reject the libertarian-style the-free-market-is-always-right. I can hear the counter-argument, that suppressing an opinion — through social or political means — enables the opinion to continue, only underground. I thought WFB had slayed the Birch Beast. And, yet, the Birch Beast is about to decimate WFB conservatism.

    A fifth column has arose, and they’ve endured our snark for so long, they don’t give a… you know, if we snark ’em.

    • #8
    • March 19, 2016, at 6:06 AM PDT
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  9. Inactive

    Fascist! Hitler! Mussolini! Goebbels!

    Sorry. I just wanted to get that stuff in before someone else did.

    • #9
    • March 19, 2016, at 6:24 AM PDT
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  10. Inactive

    What bothers me is how media coverage=votes. That says more about the voting public than Trump. What have we become?

    Idea for a movie: TV executives see how coverage wins campaigns … so they invent their own candidate and sell him(her) just as relentlessly as they’re selling Trump. Next time, they’ll sell a new President Bartlett for real.

    Wait. Maybe I shouldn’t give them ideas.

    • #10
    • March 19, 2016, at 6:28 AM PDT
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  11. Inactive

    More Buzzfeed-style headlines. Bent them to his will? Really? They were pretty happy to comply for the ratings and money it made them.

    • #11
    • March 19, 2016, at 6:46 AM PDT
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  12. Member

    If they wanted to make amends for running up the Trump time clock, they should give all of the debate time to Ted Cruz.

    John Kasich wants to be president of the United States and stand up to Putin and ISIS, but he can’t stand up to Ted Cruz? Kasich was handed re-election by a dishonorable Democrat candidate and was granted Ohio’s delegates in his home state this week by Marco Rubio and other anti-Trump forces.

    Trump could counterprogram another charity event, but he won’t be able to do that in the White House or on the general election campaign trial…

    • #12
    • March 19, 2016, at 7:09 AM PDT
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  13. Member

     

    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.”

    Your thoughts?

    While I thought his candidacy a joke, I never welcomed it or was entertained by it. Maybe that’s because I have never seen one minute of “The Apprentice.” I always knew reality TV was a regrettable development, I never dreamed it would go so far in wrecking the country.

    And I still think Trump’s candidacy is a joke. Only now we know we are the punch line.

    • #13
    • March 19, 2016, at 7:30 AM PDT
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  14. Member

    David Sussman: It’s ugly and embarrassing.

    The trump presidential legacy statement. IMHO.

    • #14
    • March 19, 2016, at 7:49 AM PDT
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  15. Inactive

    If they wanted to make amends for running up the Trump time clock, they should give all of the debate time to Ted Cruz.

    According to Brit Hume, Cruz was offered a town hall in lieu of the cancelled debate and declined.

    • #15
    • March 19, 2016, at 7:50 AM PDT
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  16. Member

    Actually, I never found it entertaining in the least.

    And yes, our media is complicit. They have been actively campaigning for Hillary for over a year, and creating the rise of Trump was their biggest contribution.

    • #16
    • March 19, 2016, at 8:05 AM PDT
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  17. Member

    RyanM: creating the rise of Trump was their biggest contribution.

    As many have said all along.

    • #17
    • March 19, 2016, at 8:23 AM PDT
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  18. Member

    Americans aren’t happy with any of the choices they face on the ballot in November.

    But the electoral process as it has evolved to what we saw this year was bound to end this way–with the DNC and the RNC looking at riot gear instead of balloons and confetti. (And by the way, the ratings for the conventions have been falling the last fifteen years. The networks must be very excited at the prospect of the ratings windfall they are about to get!)

    If there’s a villain in the story of the election of 2016, it is the major television networks.

    I am getting more and more ticked off at how the first “debates” were publicized and conducted. The networks’ lack of respect for the country and the candidates and the voters is truly infuriating. People blame the Republican Party for this disaster. I blame the television networks. Starting with the jazzed up promotion ads, the networks’ handling of this primary season has been appalling.

    We need a divorce from Fox, ABC, MSNBC, and CBS. We’ll handle this ourselves over Skype, thank you.

    The entire primary system needs to be restructured. And I guess we’ll just have to live in a very grumpy country for the next four years.

    • #18
    • March 19, 2016, at 8:42 AM PDT
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  19. Member

    I think our current situation is more akin to comparison with GMO than evolution.

    What we have experienced is a Genetically Modified Primary. The media networks are the modifiers and the large population addicted to media and numbed by what they deliver are their pawns.

    • #19
    • March 19, 2016, at 8:52 AM PDT
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  20. Inactive

    This is just buzzfeed whining because they are not as inside the cabal as they thought they were.

    But as Trump continues his march toward the Republican nomination, the networks are now grappling with reality — Trump is here to stay, and the coverage has to change.

    Hah.

    The networks are all happy with the current situation. Trump brought celebrity to the race, and ginned up controversy. Both were helpful to ratings and revenues, plus Trump ascendancy on the GOP side will help Hillary win in the fall.

    They have all dutifully reported briefly on the dirt they have against Trump. After he wins the GOP nomination, you will not see Trump unfiltered ever again. They will unload mountains of dirt daily.

    This is going to be awful.

    Buzzfeed expected that there would be a conspiracy and they expected to be let in on it. But, there is no conspiracy. They all think alike, and they all know what to do. No need to conspire; they are all just doing whatever they can to help Team HRC.

    The fact that they can make money while this goes on is what makes life wonderful for the few journalists who have managed to keep their jobs.

    • #20
    • March 19, 2016, at 10:23 AM PDT
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  21. Editor

    MJBubba: The networks are all happy with the current situation. Trump brought celebrity to the race, and ginned up controversy. Both were helpful to ratings and revenues, plus Trump ascendancy on the GOP side will help Hillary win in the fall.

    I don’t think it’s that simple. Ricochet likewise gave him a lot of exposure, for exactly the same reasons — brought celebrity to the race, ginned up conversation, helpful to site traffic and revenue, people enjoyed talking about him more than they liked talking about other candidates. I could show you our behind-the-scenes conversations; you’d see that we all took it as a fun summer joke, and why not have some fun? I find it entirely credible to think the networks went through exactly the same thought process. We all have businesses to run: If people don’t enjoy what you put on your site or your show, if they don’t click on it or watch it, you can’t stay afloat in a very competitive business. We certainly weren’t angling to get Hillary elected (no less Trump) — we just completely underestimated the appeal he’d have to an astonishingly large segment of the electorate. We’ll have a long time to ask ourselves why it is that we so poorly understood our own country.

    • #21
    • March 19, 2016, at 10:46 AM PDT
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  22. Inactive

    The only place Hillary is headed is the hoosegow.

    • #22
    • March 19, 2016, at 10:53 AM PDT
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  23. Member

    MarciN: We need a divorce from Fox, NBC, and CBS. We’ll handle this ourselves over Skype, thank you.

    What a great idea; I’ve always wondered why the conservative/constitutional people never went into television media.

    I don’t think I’ve seen an authentic news program in …. I don’t know how long, at least 25 years. It all comes off as paid-for television made to look like news. It seemed to me that when the networks decided the news programming could be “pushed” to generate greater income by “creating news”, the slippery slope to total faux-news began. Pushing the news income stream is what has allowed the now alleged “news” programming to become nothing more than tools for propaganda/self-promotion.

    Don’t like anything I’ve seen or heard about Donald Trump, but I admire his street smarts, his ability to use all the tools of the left — no matter how slimy — to his own advantage.

    I think the broadcasting concerns are “grappling” with only one thing — how to avoid being held “accountable” for willingly selling out. And not just to Trump, but also to Obama, socialist agendas (Soros), the Clintons, etc. They know they are responsible, only difference now is they are afraid it is going to cost them.

    To me it is similar to discovering the medical examiner “manufactured” evidence — now every case for which he ever gave evidence is tainted. This, is what the networks are grappling with — self-preservation.

    • #23
    • March 19, 2016, at 11:01 AM PDT
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  24. Member

    Jules PA:I think our current situation is more akin to comparison with GMO than evolution.

    What we have experienced is a Genetically Modified Primary.

    Is there a limit to how many times I can “like” this?

    • #24
    • March 19, 2016, at 11:04 AM PDT
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  25. Member

    In 2017, after a worldwide economic collapse, American society has become a totalitarianpolice state, censoring all cultural activity. The government pacifies the populace by broadcasting game shows where convicted criminals fight for their lives, including the gladiator-style The Running Man, hosted by the ruthless Damon Killian, where “runners” attempt to evade “stalkers”, armed mercenaries, around a large arena, and near-certain death for a chance to be pardoned by the state.

    First sentences of the plot line for The Running Man on wikipedia. As I read the first bit of the OP the movie came to mind. When I hopped over to the wiki page I guffawed.

    • #25
    • March 19, 2016, at 11:04 AM PDT
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  26. Inactive

    TempTime:

    MarciN: We need a divorce from Fox, NBC, and CBS. We’ll handle this ourselves over Skype, thank you.

    What a great idea; I’ve always wondered why the conservative/constitutional people never went into television media.

    Conservative/ constitutionally-minded people want to talk about ideas at a level of discourse that requires the watchers to actually pay attention. We misunderstand.

    TV is only sometimes watched. It provides entertaining background noise while we put the groceries away, make dinner, clean up, read the paper, etc. Hardly anyone watching TV is willing to actually pay attention to an argument.

    America is not a serious country. That is our problem.

    • #26
    • March 19, 2016, at 11:06 AM PDT
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  27. Member

    TempTime: I think the broadcasting concerns are “grappling” with only one thing — how to avoid being held “accountable” for willingly selling out. And not just to Trump, but also to Obama, socialist agendas (Soros), the Clintons, etc. They know they are responsible, only difference now is they are afraid it is going to cost them.

    If the Trump effect teaches the media to be more responsible with their power, I can accept that. I don’t have to like it, but I can accept it.

    Maybe our mistake has been thinking Trump is taking down the GOP, when what he is doing is realigning the power of the media?

    Sadly, once it is HRC and DJT running, Trump’s voice will be silenced by the major media. That is what I think.

    • #27
    • March 19, 2016, at 11:08 AM PDT
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  28. Member

    TempTime: This, is what the networks are grappling with — self-preservation.

    That is exactly right.

    I keep thinking that we could fold our television operations into the PBS networks.

    Or perhaps launch our own private cable television channel.

    Let the news organizations find us.

    • #28
    • March 19, 2016, at 11:24 AM PDT
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  29. Member

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Ricochet likewise gave him a lot of exposure, for exactly the same reasons — brought celebrity to the race, ginned up conversation, helpful to site traffic and revenue, people enjoyed talking about him more than they liked talking about other candidates.

    I don’t think it’s the same at all, Claire. Ricochet does not hold itself out to be a “news” organization. A provider of authentic, uncolored, honest information that people can rely upon to be clear, neutral, factual. I don’t put the same burden of neutrality on a conversational community as I put on media that calls itself “News”. People still “believe” the news to be information that can be relied upon when making important decisions in their lives; I don’t think most people realize they are being “spoofed”. The news they watch now is not the News they think it is — it is now all paid for programming.

    If the people don’t realize the spoofing is going on, we could blame print “News” media, for failing to expose the spoofing.

    That said, It did seem to me for a time that “promotion” of articles was somewhat skewed toward exploiting the Trump phenomena.

    • #29
    • March 19, 2016, at 11:27 AM PDT
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  30. Member

    Jules PA: Sadly, once it is HRC and DJT running, Trump’s voice will be silenced by the major media. That is what I think.

    I agree completely.

    • #30
    • March 19, 2016, at 11:31 AM PDT
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