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How to Mute Trump’s Boombox


Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

It ain’t news when he says something that’s untrue or uninformed.

Jack Shafer, Politico Now you can follow Evergreene Digest on Facebook 24, 2018 | The press gave primo coverage to Donald Trump’s outrageous utterances during the 2016 Republican presidential primaries because, well, he was a front-runner, and when front-runners speak, it’s news. After Trump secured the Republican nomination, the press gave similar notice to his tongue-wagging because—well, because it believes every trill and chirrup from a major-party nominee contains news value. Later, when Trump became president and the press continued to steer his tweets, White House lawn utterances, and MAGA-rally speeches onto Page 1, the justification for the saturation coverage was that no matter what strange noise flowed out of the president’s boombox, it was newsworthy and deserved ink and airtime.

And here we are, 21 months into his presidency, and Trump still reaps maximum exposure every time he says something cruel, improbable, or daft. Take his weekend promise to bestow a 10 percent tax cut on middle-class Americans before the midterm elections. Congress is out of session and nobody on Capitol Hill or inside the administration knew anything about the proposal—making passage on Trump’s timetable impossible. But that didn’t prevent the press corps from placing all of its oars in the water and rowing hard to take first place in the race to prove the president’s pitch a fantasy.

Jack Shafer is Politico's senior media writer.  Previously,  Jack wrote a column about the press and politics for Reuters and before that worked at Slate as a columnist and as the site's deputy editor. He also edited two alternative weeklies, SF Weekly and Washington City Paper.

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