Rubio Lambastes Media for ‘Wall-to-Wall’ Trump Coverage, Contributing to the Degrading Civility

In two separate appearances on Sunday morning political talk shows, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio continued to call out the liberal media for their favoritism toward GOP frontrunner Donald Trump by covering Trump’s rallies and press conferences “wall to wall” since it’s “good for ratings” despite the role it arguably plays in the degradation of the American political culture. 

Rubio sat for one of those interviews on ABC’s This Week and told host and former Clinton operative George Stephanopoulos that elected officials, operatives, and members of the media “all need to look at ourselves for a moment” and consider how each group has been harmful (or not) to the system. 

Calling out the media specifically, Rubio briefly explained why the media has salivated at the idea of contentious Trump rallies and controversial proposals by the billionaire:

I mean, if you think about Donald Trump says these outrageous and offensive things, his speeches get covered live by cable networks, wall to wall. I mean, and I know it’s good for ratings to have him on people’s show, I know he’s good for ratings to cover these speeches because of what he might say, but I think the media’s responsible for some of this[.]

An hour earlier (in the D.C. area), Rubio spoke with CNN anchor Jake Tapper on State of the Union and pointed first to the near daily development to percolate from the Trump campaign whether it’s the supporter sucker-punching a protestor to the alleged assault of Breitbart’s Michelle Fields by Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on Tuesday night.

Rubio observed that considering what’s been transpiring with the Trump campaign, it’s imperative that the media act responsibly:

We should all examine whether we have been quick enough and that includes the media. That includes your network that has given wall — and not just you. I'm not picking on you. Everybody else gives every one of Trump's speeches wall-to-wall coverage, because, while they may act outraged by what he says, they cover it, and they want to get it live, so they can talk about it and it drives ratings. 

Before Rubio was asked by Tapper if he was fearful that someone could lose their life if acts of violence worsen at Trump rallies (which he admitted he is concerned about), the GOP presidential candidate compared the current state of American politics to “the equivalent of the comments sections in these blogs, where presidential comments are now basically Twitter trolls.”

The relevant portion of the transcript from ABC’s This Week on March 13 can be found below.

ABC’s This Week
March 13, 2016
10:18 a.m. Eastern

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, we looked at those clips of you yesterday. You seemed honestly shaken by what you’ve seen this weekend. How did we get this far?

RUBIO: I think we all need to look at ourselves for a moment and ask ourselves — I think that includes the media, George, to be honest. I mean, if you think about Donald Trump says these outrageous and offensive things, his speeches get covered live by cable networks, wall to wall. I mean, and I know it’s good for ratings to have him on people’s show, I know he’s good for ratings to cover these speeches because of what he might say, but I think the media’s responsible for some of this, but I think ultimately, the responsibility bears on — look, those protesters in Chicago? A lot of them I believe were paid and organized; that wasn’t some organic thing. Put that aside —

STEPHANOPOULOS: By whom?

RUBIO: — for a moment. You have a — you know, I think you saw MoveOn.org, I think you saw all these different elements involved. There’s a professional industry of protest in Chicago, okay? That doesn’t — and they don’t have the right to disrupt an event and threaten violence so it doesn’t occur, but put that aside for a moment. It’s not just the thing in Chicago. Donald Trump on a regular basis incites his crowds. He tells them oh, beat the guy up and I’ll pay your legal fees. You have a guy who sucker punches a man at one of his events, is arrested, and upon release, says the next time we’re going to kill him. No condemnation. You have his campaign manager is accused here in Florida of assaulting a female reporter. Again, no condemnation or sense of responsibility.

The relevant portions of the transcript from CNN’s State of the Union on March 13 can be found below.

CNN’s State of the Union
March 13, 2016
9:25 a.m. Eastern

JAKE TAPPER: I have to say, Senator, I brought this up at the debate in Miami on Thursday evening, and you simply said you were concerned about violence in general in this society. Why didn't you say anything Thursday night? Why did you hesitate to criticize this when Trump was on the stage? 

RUBIO: Well, that's not — yes, that's not exactly how it played out, Jake. That question was not even asked of me and I was the fourth person to opine on it and, at that point, a lot had already been said about it, number one. Number two, the question I was directly asked about was about Muslims and what he had said about all Muslims hating America and I said very clearly there that presidents can't just say anything they want, that there's consequences for that, but, look, this is an ongoing thing, okay? So, every day, something new comes up, and I try not to escalate things, because you don't want to exaggerate them, and you don't want to make something bigger than it really is. But just in the last, you know, five days, we he have had stories about the guy getting sucker-punched at the Trump rally. You have supporters basically — you have a campaign employee now allegedly assaulted a reporter at an event. So, every day, it's something new and so, there comes a point here where there's a tipping point, right? And you look at it and say enough is enough. So, I think, at the end of the day, we should all examine our behavior moving — over the last year on this issue. We should all examine whether we have been quick enough and that includes the media. That includes your network that has given wall — and not just you. I'm not picking on you. Everybody else gives every one of Trump's speeches wall-to-wall coverage, because, while they may act outraged by what he says, they cover it, and they want to get it live, so they can talk about it and it drives ratings. So, I think we all need to take a step back and say, have we contributed to this culture that has turned American politics and the American political discourse into the equivalent of the comments sections in these blogs, where presidential comments are now basically Twitter trolls?

TAPPER: Would I be overstating matters if I said you sound like you're actually concerned that somebody, before this is all over, somebody might lose their life? 

RUBIO: I'm very concerned about that. I'm very concerned. We don't know what's going to happen next here. I know that we have reached the point now where people in American politics have decided that, if they don't agree with you, that they can get angry at you, that you're a bad and evil person, that they can say anything they want about you. I think that the — all the gates of civility have been blown apart, and we have now reached a point where, on both sides, everyone is just saying or doing whatever they want. And, you know, you can't just say or do whatever you want. This is not about political correctness. This is about rules of civility and a way a society talks to each other and let me ask everybody this. Do we really want to live a — in a country where everybody hates each other? Where everybody is at each other's throat, where, because we disagree on the role of government or the tax rate or Obamacare or foreign policy, we now in this nation cannot have a discourse or agree on any other issue and end up hating each other? Because that's what it feels like. It feels like we're reaching a point now where, in America, everyone hates each other. I'm so tired of arguing and fighting with other Americans. Yes, we have serious disagreements, and let's debate those through our republic, but we have reached a point now where, if I don't agree with you on something, it's not just that you're wrong, but you're a bad person, you're an evil person, you deserve nothing. I mean, we — all the gates of — all the rules that once governed our discourse have been blown away and we're headed in a very dangerous direction and, yes, there are people out there that are unbalanced. There are people out there that do not have control of themselves. We don't know what they will do and this applies to both sides of this debate, by the way.

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center