The Press Is Giving Trump a Free Pass, Again

The Press Is Giving Trump a Free Pass, Again

Media outlets appear to be operating on the assumption that Trump will lose, and are covering his latest scandals accordingly.

You can teach old journalists the occasional new trick, but two? Forget it.

The 2016 election persuaded the press to avoid publicly presuming that Donald Trump will lose and the Democrat will win. The very cautious news coverage about Joe Biden’s chances, despite his formidable advantage in polls, makes this plain.

But even though reporters are loath to say that the president is a serious underdog, they are repeating another 2016 error. Trump is getting off easy for a series of recent scandals, most likely because press outlets have concluded that he is doomed and that coverage is largely pointless. From a radical reorganization of the civil service to sketchy Chinese bank accounts, the president has faced little scrutiny on what should be major topics of concern for voters.

Four years ago, the number of scandals swirling around the Republican nominee was too great for the average reporter, much less the average voter, to track. Yet with the possible exception of the October surprise of the Access Hollywood tape, few of them gained any lasting purchase. Observers who assumed that voters would never accept Trump’s past didn’t reckon with the fact that it would get such short shrift. Meanwhile, in the closing days of the campaign, Hillary Clinton’s emails were extensively covered. In part, that was because many reporters and editors assumed that she would soon be president, and that questions about her term as secretary of state would remain relevant for months or years to come.