The media may have given up its role as a major player in presidential campaigns, and that could also mean less coverage of local, city, state and federal government.
The event that most will blame for whatever follows is the decision to give so much free time to Donald Trump, though some change should have been expected. The Republican not only was allowed to talk for hours, usually without questioning, but the news shows that followed spent much of their time discussing what Trump had to say.
Trump clearly believes any news is good news. Only time will tell if that can win a national presidential election. Even if he loses, there is no guarantee the media will be able to return to its major role in choosing our governments.
If Hillary Clinton wins, it will be after what many call a “front porch” campaign. Critics are attacking her for refusing to hold a single traditional news conference. Polls suggest this tactic is working.
Presidential news conferences have been declining in general since after World War 2.
There are fewer journalists assigned strictly to politics as the print media, like news conferences, also is in decline, leaving fewer to press for traditional news conferences.
Much of what voters get to see is panel discussions of political journalists, often joined by “surrogates,” people chosen by candidates to promote their campaigns.
It shouldn’t be assumed that either candidate’s approach will automatically work. The Internet has made it possible for people to inform themselves. Whether they will is another question that has not been answered.
Age often determines where people get their news. Social media is popular with millennials, but newsmakers are reaching out to all age groups. TV remains a major source, but many Americans get their news from a variety of sources.
Political parties will continue to be involved in determining who gets selected to run for elected offices but party loyalties will likely to have to adjust to the evolving mood of electorates influenced by how their performances are judged.
Outsiders like Trump will find it more difficult in future campaigns to get so much free coverage but they will no longer be novelties.
Both Trump and Bernie Sanders, who gave Clinton a surprisingly tough fight, focused on rallies that sometimes drew thousands but were not coupled with traditional ground games.
This year’s race is not over yet but is edging towards predictability with Clinton leading in the polls and possessing a much stronger traditional get-out-the-vote ground game. Their hopes for down-ticket gains are growing.
MSNBC’s popular Morning Joe’s Joe Scarborough, who earlier had given Trump considerable free coverage, wrote:
“Friday started as it usually does: an early wake up call, an interview with the next president of the United States and a hateful personal attack from Donald Trump. Such is life during these dog days of August in a nasty presidential campaign not even near its ugly end.
“These days, a rudely out-of-bounds Trump attack surprises Mika and me about as much as a puppy relieving himself on a living room rug. “We’ve figured out by now that it does no good to lose your cool with the puppy or Donald Trump, since neither have and control over their bladder or mouth.
As Aristotle famously said, “It is what it is.”