Monday, July 6, 2015

How to know when you're being baited

I seldom venture into politics or commentary about candidates for political office. This is a brief exception.

News editors, I'm talking to you.

Do you realize that when Donald Trump says something incendiary about some non-U.S. nationality, he's baiting you? When you keep re-playing his offensive comments about Mexican citizens, you give him more exposure than, say, ANY CANDIDATE WHO'S ACTUALLY GOVERNED?

Substitute image to be used in place of any
photo of Donald Trump. P.T. Barnum wasn't available.
When you report on corporations backing out of deals with Trump, that's only slightly newsworthy. Companies end business dealings all the time. When Kodak collapsed into bankruptcy, major deals with Target, Wal-mart, Disney, and the PGA Tour went away. The backlash over Trump's remarks made his torn-up contracts mildly more interesting, but not deserving of the air time and web content you're handing over to him.

Donald Trump is a very expensive empty suit. He has no experience in public service. He's P.T. Barnum with a black helicopter and some real estate holdings. In other words: Mitt Romney-style money with no policy experience.

News directors: please start holding vanity candidates like Trump accountable. Demand his policies and plans to govern. Assuming they're not written on an Etch-a-Sketch. 

Decision-makers in newsrooms need to figure out when they're being baited into covering a fringe candidate as if he had legitimate leadership credentials. In some cases, it's easy.

Every time Trump steps up to a mike, you're being baited.