AJR  Features
From AJR,   February/March 2012


The media’s ridiculous obsession with The Donald’s endorsement in the GOP race. Thurs., February 1, 2012

By Rem Rieder
Rem Rieder (rrieder@ajr.umd.edu) is AJR's editor and senior vice president.     

It's a new low.

The media circus over Donald Trump's endorsement in the Republican presidential contest is just off the charts wacky. It's a vivid reminder, as if we needed another one, about how skewed our news priorities have become.

Forget jumping the shark. This was jumping the whale.

At one point, the political bible Politico had "Watch Live: Donald Trump endorses Mitt Romney" at the top of its home page. Below were four — four!!?! — stories about the run-up to the magic moment (including "Media harumphs at Trump").

In fact, for 24 hours leading up to the actual announcement, numerous news sites that should know better were prominently displaying stories predicting, speculating or guessing about what the Great Man would do. For awhile he was going to back Newt Gingrich, then he was going all in for Mitt.

After Trump ended the agonizing suspense and endorsed Romney, cnn.com had "Donald Trump to Mitt Romney: You're hired" at the top of its homepage, complete with picture. The Drudge Report's top story was "Vegas surprise: Trump endorses Romney..." (a surprise certainly to all who read the bogus stories about Trump planning to endorse Newt) as well as a prominent picture of Trump and Gingrich with the inevitable caption, "YOU'RE FIRED!" The Donald's pick was the top story on Google News and the third most prominent link on usatoday.com and msnbc.com. It got a big ride from the Web site of the Las Vegas Journal-Review, in the state where Republican voters caucus on Saturday. It was No. 1 under Latest Headlines on abcnews.com.

Which leads to the question: Why?

Who is Donald Trump? What difference does it make whom he endorses? It's not like he's a Kardashian or anything.

Trump is a real estate magnate cum carnival barker. He's an egomaniac and a publicity freak. Why enable the dude?

I'm not sure the Herman Cain and Rick Perry endorsements swayed lots of voters. But at least they were candidates who had competed and then dropped out of the race.

It was bad enough that Trump's presidential tease attracted so much media attention earlier this year before he mercifully announced that he wasn't going to run. All the hype about someone who hadn't taken Step 1 toward actually mounting a campaign helped propel The Donald to the top of the GOP polls. (Of course, besides poor old Jon Hunstman, who hasn't been there?)

I just hope that when Ryan Seacrest makes his endorsement, the media give him equal time.