MSNBC’s Hunt on Trump Reporting: ‘Be Careful About the Breathlessness’

October 23rd, 2018 7:55 AM

MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt on reporting in the age of Trump: “I think we have to be careful about the breathlessness.... I think it's important to try to keep your perspective.” This remark was heard over the weekend at the annual Los Angeles Politicon, which describes itself as the “Unconventional Political Convention” that draws the “biggest names in politics and entertainment.”

MSNBC's Ari Melber insisted: 

On The Beat, we try to be careful to assess whether any given fireworks have significance. News value has to mean something more than 'this is wild' or entertaining. I think that's a challenge for all reporters.... 'OMG Donald Trump insulted someone or said something wild' may work up to a point, but I don't believe that's a good foundation for a news reporter segment.

Second to that would be, we should always keep an eye on the pressures within both parties or in any other political movements, but the endless checking of whether a Republican politicians are standing up to him on any given issue doesn't move the ball that much, or doesn't inform the audience that much.” 

Of course, Hunt doesn’t always take her own advice as far as the hyperbole. On May 20, 2018, she wondered, “Do you think Trump’s rhetoric is racist?” In March, she asked the DNC chair if Democrats should demand impeachment. 

According to an article for The Hollywood Reporter on the Politicon event,  media and politics reporter Jeremy Barr explained: 

Cable news programming is either must-see entertainment or splintering the fabric of the country, depending on whom you ask.

Over the first 21 months of Donald Trump's presidency, the medium’s three biggest players -- Fox News, CNN and MSNBC -- have achieved record ratings while struggling to keep up with a fast-paced news cycle that seems to turn on a dime -- or a tweet.

During the two-day event, Barr “spoke with people who know cable firsthand about how it can better cover the Trump administration and the president's orbit.”

One of the most interesting responses came from David Urban, a political commentator for CNN who worked on the 2016 Donald Trump presidential campaign.

“I think cable news in general could kind of stop the hysteria,” Urban noted. “Every time the president does something, it's not the end of the world. ... I think these networks should try to stick to a little bit more news, less opinion. There's a dearth of hard news anymore.”

Dan Bongino, a conservative Trump supporter, had a different opinion: “When I go to Fox and they put a liberal on, I promise you that's a real liberal.”

Another Fox News contributor, Gianno Caldwell, replied: “With other networks outside of Fox, sometimes it appears there's a stacking of the deck of people that hate Trump. ... It seems as though there is a little more animus when it comes to other networks with regard to the Trump presidency."

Also from MSNBC was Michael Steele, a previous Republican Party chairman who had similar advice for covering Trump.

“Don't follow every bright-shining object that he throws out there,” Steele noted, “because they're all distractions.”

Nevertheless, the best response over the convention weekend came from former New Jersey governor and current ABC News commentator Chris Christie, who stated: “The networks could do better by just listening a little bit, and not feeling as if they need to be an advocate for a position.”

However, he added, “I don't anticipate that's going to happen anytime soon.”