In the May/June issue of Politico magazine (which was noted by my NewsBusters colleague Tim Graham here) Campbell Brown, formerly of CNN and NBC, offered a fair representation of some of the media handwringing about their responsibility for Donald Trump.
Politico headlined Brown’s piece:
Why I Blame TV for Trump
A former cable host says the industry utterly caved to the candidate.
Brown wrote in part:
“My friends in the TV news business are in a state of despair about Donald Trump, even as their bosses in the boardroom are giddy over what he’s doing for their once sagging ratings.
‘It feels like it’s over,’ one old friend from my television days told me recently. Any hope of practicing real journalism on TV is really, finally finished. ‘Look, we’ve always done a lot of stupid shit to get ratings. But now it’s like we’ve just given up and literally handed over control hoping he’ll save us. It’s pathetic, and I feel like hell.’ Said another friend covering the presidential campaign for cable news, ‘I am swilling antidepressants trying to figure out what to do with my life when this is over.’”
That's a follow-up. In Politico last December, Brown wrote a piece headlined "Dear Former TV Colleagues, Give Us a Week Without Trump." In part, she wrote this:
“To my former TV colleagues: Please stop. Just for one week, don’t say his name. As many have already said, no presidential candidate in history has gotten this much free airtime. Let’s stop being complicit in promoting his hateful and harmful demagoguery. Just for one week.”
Brown goes on, among other things saying that Trump makes “outrageous, provocative statements”, that he is “contemptible” a liar and a megalomaniac. not to mention a “calculating demagogue.” She recommended (her piece was published back in December of last year) that the TV networks, both broadcast and cable, not only take Trump off the air for a week but that they not even mention his name that week and, yes, she demanded that he be banned from the next scheduled debate.
Question for Campbell Brown: Where was she in 2008 when these same networks not to mention the writing press in newspaper and magazine form were lavishing attention on Senator Barack Obama? As NBC's First Read team noted here in December 2008:
In light of Barack Obama (predictably) being named Time's Person of the Year, First Read took a look back to see which magazine -- Time or Newsweek -- won the battle of who put Obama on the cover the most in 2008.
Drumroll. The winner is... Time.
Time has featured Obama on its cover 14 times since Jan. 1. Newsweek was close behind, featuring the now-president-elect on 12 of its issues. Time has had 52 issues in 2008, so Obama has been featured on more than one-in-four of its covers, or about 27% of the time.
That number, though, goes even higher if you include how many times Obama has appeared in the "skybox" -- 11 times.
That means Obama's face or name has somehow made it onto the cover of Time just about half of the time this year (25 out of 52 issues -- 48%)
Newsweek has had 49 issues this year so far (through Dec. 22), so Obama has been featured on about a quarter of its covers as well.
In contrast, the Republican nominee, John McCain, made the cover of Newsweek just four times the entire year, and twice he shared it -- once with Obama and once with Sarah Palin.
In fact, Palin made the cover by herself as many times as McCain did -- the entire year. She did it twice (Sept. 15 and Oct. 13). She also shared it with McCain once (Sept. 8). McCain was on the cover solo way back in February during the primary (Feb. 11 and 18).
Newsweek stopped printing a weekly magazine with the December 30, 2012 issue.
Maybe there’s a story out there in cyberspace that details Brown’s lengthy and pungent objections to the media’s Obama coverage in 2008 as she has objected to Trump’s in 2015, but if so, I have been unable to find it.
Let’s be real here. There is no “Campbell Brown attacks media Obama coverage” article because in fact she didn’t object to it. As a matter of fact, way back there in September of 2008 there is this NewsBusters story reporting that one Campbell Brown interview on CNN (where she worked at the time) with a John McCain adviser was seen by the McCain campaign as so over the line that the McCain campaign angrily cancelled a McCain interview with then-CNN host Larry King by way of protest.
The point? Campbell Brown is obviously (sometimes not-so-obviously in this day and age of anti-free speech zealotry) entitled to her views on television coverage of Donald Trump or anything else. If she chooses, figuratively speaking, to shout her position from the top of a media rooftop well, God Bless America.
The problem here is that what goes unremarked about Brown is her use of the usual double-standard. It was OK for saturation coverage of Obama -- but not Trump.
Let’s be clear here. Donald Trump’s victory in the Indiana primary and the withdrawal of the last of his GOP opponents from the race sets up a media story that will not end until November. The story? Hillary versus The Donald. Every single political story of note of this showdown will doubtless in some fashion revolve around the two polar opposites of Clinton and Trump, who together will be the at the heart of the most controversial presidential election since George W. Bush and Al Gore faced off with lawyers in the 2000 Supreme Court. The race promises to be vivid, brutal, and saturated by television coverage. As should be a race for President of the United States. Some of it will be fair. Some of it will be grossly unfair.
But please. Let’s not be suggesting that one or the other candidate should be held hostage to some journalist of note out there saying of either candidate some version of Campbell Brown’s plea that “just for one week, don’t say his (or her) name.”
A? It’s not going to happen.
And B? That’s called censorship.