The Real 2024 Contest: The Media Vs. Trump

February 18th, 2023 4:00 PM

Former South Carolina Governor and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley has announced her candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. She will be opposing the already announced former President Donald Trump.

According to the political speculators there may be similar forthcoming GOP announcements from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu and who knows who else.

Don’t believe a word of any of this. None of these people will be Trump’s real opponents.

The real contest for the 2024 GOP nomination, not to mention for the presidency in the general election beyond that, is between…

Donald Trump and the media.

As Americans have learned, the mainstream media is obsessed with the 45th president. Obsessed with everything he says and everything he does. And in the case of those who have decided to challenge him for re-nomination or are leaning to do so, they are being made almost incidental to their own campaigns - by the media.

Take Nikki Haley. 

A clearly accomplished person, a former state legislator, governor and U.S. UN Ambassador, here are some of the headlines surrounding her announcement. From NBC

A timeline of Nikki Haley’s past Trump statements

Haley was initially a sharp critic of Trump, but she went on to join his administration and support his re-election in 2020.

From CNN

Nikki Haley’s first days in GOP 2024 race preview the Trump balancing act awaiting other contenders 


Why Donald Trump Will Be Delighted Nikki Haley Is Running Against Him 

And on and on- and on and on - went the media’s coverage of Nikki Haley: It was all about…Trump.

Then there are the often mentioned possible Trump GOP opponents who are not yet announced. A sampling.

Here’s CNN on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

DeSantis says he regrets not speaking out ‘much louder’ against Trump’s recommendation to stay home

From back there in the mists of 2021 Senator Tim Scott will doubtless be reminded of this from CNN

Tim Scott confirms he’s on the Trump 2024 train

Here’s CBS on a possible run by former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson

Asa Hutchinson, former Arkansas governor and vocal Trump critic, may decide on presidential run by April

And here is Fox News on New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu issues bold prediction about Trump's 2024 chances: 'He can't get it done'

Again, there’s more here like this. Oh so much more. But the theme in every story is, in essence, it’s all about Trump.

What are the political results of this for the real or potential Trump opponents?

It is reasonable to suggest that there are only two possible results here. Either the anti-Trump fixation of the media will have Americans nodding in agreement with the media’s coverage, and then rally behind one of the Trump opponents.

Or, to the contrary. In that case the media’s Trump obsession will so infuriate the legendary “Trump base” that they will turn out en masse to re-nominate and re-elect him.

But that Trump himself will quite willingly - happily - take on the media as his opponent in this election cycle, have no doubt.

Way back there in 2014 I interviewed then-private citizen Trump about how he would deal with the media if he did run for president. I began by noting that many Republican voters felt the media was not only hostile to Republican nominees, but there was a belief the Republican nominees did not fight back. Think then-recent nominees Romney, McCain and George W. Bush.

Trump answered that he would be making it a point to fight back against the media, saying this:

Well, I see firsthand the dishonesty of the press….The press is extremely dishonest. Much of it. Some of it I have great respect for, and they’re great people and honorable people. But there’s a large segment of the press that’s more dishonest than anybody I’ve seen in business or anywhere else. And the one thing you have to do is you have to inform the public. The public has to know about the dishonesty of the press because these are really bad people and they don’t tell the truth and have no intention of telling the truth. And I know who they are and I would expose them 100 percent. And I will be doing that.

And by the time he did run in 2016, Trump had reduced this belief into a famous two word descriptor of the media: “Fake news.”

One can be reasonably sure that after two presidential races and one term in the White House Trump believes all of what he said about the press back there in 2014 more strongly than ever.

It is far too early at this point in the 2024 cycle to know the result. But it is decidedly not too early, as those headlines above suggest - and they are seemingly endless in Googleland - to realize the media has set its sights on Trump. And for better or worse, anybody who runs against him is going to find the mainstream media will be making the real story of their race as “its all about Trump.”

If there is one fairly certain bet, it is that Trump himself will love every minute of this looming battle. He will relish the fight.

Buckle in.