The mutual dependence of Donald Trump and the news media

Jim Rutenberg writes: Did you catch the Trump-Kelly bout Friday night? What a show.

It had Donald J. Trump, The Likely Republican Presidential Nominee, throwing the first punch (of that day) at the star Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly by composing a Twitter post describing her as “overrated” and calling for a boycott of her show.

Then Fox News Channel counterpunched, accusing the candidate of having a sexist and “sick obsession” with its popular journalist. Boom. Another Trump News avalanche!

The Trump-Kelly feud once again became a focal point of the presidential campaign coverage, cascading across Twitter, cable news and digital news outlets, including this one.

As in any good prizefight, everybody came out the richer Friday, putting aside the potentially severe internal injuries.

Mr. Trump riled up his fans against a recurring villain in his running campaign narrative and ensured the news was once again all about him. Fox News, the cable news ratings leader that is so often impugned as an arm of the Republican Party, got to ring a bell for journalistic independence. Ms. Kelly got the sort of support from the network that she has described as lacking from her colleague Bill O’Reilly; guaranteed big ratings to come; and got more fodder for the book she sold for many millions of dollars after the Trump feud began.

Newspapers and online news organizations got a click-worthy story line tailor-made for a fast read on the iPhone. And, finally, there were the viewers and the readers, who are benefiting from a transitioning media industry’s desire to give them what they want, where they want it, as fast as possible. As the people have made clear, they want Trump.

It was the perfect boil-down of the disturbing symbiosis between Mr. Trump and the news media. There is always a mutually beneficial relationship between candidates and news organizations during presidential years. But in my lifetime it’s never seemed so singularly focused on a single candidacy. And the financial stakes have never been so intertwined with the journalistic and political stakes. [Continue reading…]

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