Why Did the Press Cover Up Trump's Meltdown?
The media's bizarre silence about Trump throwing a reporter's phone shows why the industry is in crisis
Presidential campaigns are supposed to elicit the highest level of media scrutiny. The slightest misstep or misstatement can derail a campaign for weeks. While the intensity of presidential campaign press coverage often devolves into un-ironic farce, it does serve a purpose. Temperament and tenacity are qualities fundamental to the presidency. History shows that folks who avoid the rigors of the campaign are unfit for the White House (see Trump, Donald 2017-2021). A candidate losing it on the campaign trail is big news — except when it isn’t. Consider Trump’s recent meltdown. According to Charlotte Klein, who first reported the incident for Vanity Fair:
Former president Donald Trump was aboard his plane with a gaggle of reporters following a campaign rally in Waco, Texas. He started off in good spirits. But then a line of questioning from NBC News reporter Vaughn Hillyard, who suggested that Trump had in recent days seemed “frustrated” by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s investigation, began irritating the former president. “Don’t ask me any more questions,” Trump said. About 10 minutes later, as Hillyard continued to ask about the investigation, Trump snapped, grabbing the reporter’s two phones and chucking them to the side, according to a source familiar with the matter. “Get him out of here,” Trump told his aides, according to a recording obtained by Vanity Fair.
This was a big deal, right? You must be wondering how you missed it. As a Message Box reader, I imagine you are among the most highly engaged news consumers walking the planet. Rest assured; it’s not your fault. This didn’t happen yesterday or even last week. It was last month. And neither Hillyard nor the half dozen reporters on the plane said anything about it for weeks. This is only public now because Klein, who was not present, heard rumors and reported out the incident.
The entire situation is baffling, raises concerns about how the traditional political press will cover an untraditional (authoritarian criminal) candidate, and explains why the media is facing its biggest crisis in recent memory.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to The Message Box to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.