64. Did the media create Trump?

This question is a specific application of Question of the Week #31, copy and pasted below.

Here are some articles on this question, including from our magazine media issue from last week (What Have We Done?):

Did We Create Trump? By Jack Shafer (POLITICO) (also, Shafer’s “Did the Media Create Trump”)

Why I Blame TV for Trump by Campbell Brown (POLITICO)

My Shared Shame: The Media Helped Make Trump by Nicholas Kristof (NYT)

Yes, the Media Is Partly to Blame for the Rise of Donald Trump by Matthew Ingram (Fortune)


31. Which comes first, the news or the coverage of the news? Journalists try to cover only what’s newsworthy. But oftentimes newsworthiness is determined by coverage. Can something not newsworthy be made newsworthy by receiving a lot of coverage from journalists who overestimate its newsworthiness?

What does it mean for Politico to “drive the conversation”? Does Politico drive conversations after they begin, or does it spark conversations as well? Do newsmakers spark and drive conversations using Politico, or does Politico itself do the sparking and driving? Does something appear in Playbook because it’s newsworthy, or is it newsworthy because it appeared in Playbook?

The Agenda-Setting Function of Mass Media

By Maxwell E. McCombs and Donald L. Shaw (The Public Opinion Quarterly)


In choosing and displaying news, editors, newsroom staff, and broadcasters play an important part in shaping political reality. Readers learn not only about a given issue, but also how much importance to attach to that issue from the amount of information in a news story and its position. In reflecting what candidates are saying during a campaign, the mass media may well determine the important issues — that is, the media may set the “agenda” of the campaign.

Which Comes First?

By Columbia Journalism Review (Gal Beckerman)

October 9, 2007

What leads to what? Does a presidential candidate’s popularity in the polls lead to more media coverage or does media coverage lead to popularity in the polls? Of course, the candidate, who believes wholeheartedly that everyone would support him if only his ideas could get more attention, thinks the media is responsible for whether his numbers go up or down. The journalist, on the other hand, invested in her role as objective observer, does not want to feel implicated in the process of choosing the president, and usually believes that it’s the polls that determine who she covers. It’s a conversation that usually happens behind the scenes with candidates lamenting that their numbers won’t go up unless they get more air time and journalists responding that they would get more air time if their numbers went up.

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