A new report confirms that five television networks cut a deal with Donald Trump that has effectively turned their coverage over to the Republican frontrunner and turned the networks into Trump propaganda arms.
According to a report by Buzzfeed, five television networks allowed Trump to take control of their coverage of his campaign:
Two network sources also confirmed the unprecedented control the television networks have surrendered to Trump in a series of private negotiations, allowing him to dictate specific details about placement of cameras at his event, to ensure coverage consists primarily of a single shot of his face.
Under the Trump campaign’s conditions, camera crews would not be able to leave the press pen during Trump’s rallies to capture video of audience reactions, known in the industry as “cutaway shots” or “cuts.” Networks would also not be able to use a separate riser set up to get cutaway shots. The terms, which limit the access journalists have to supporters and protesters while Trump is speaking, are unprecedented, and are more restrictive than those put on the networks by the White House or Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which has had Secret Service protection for its duration.
Facing the risk of losing their credentialed access to Trump’s events, the networks capitulated. They did, however, get one concession: When Trump finishes speaking, one person with a camera is allowed to exit the press pen to capture him shaking hands on the rope line while he exits. That footage is then shared among the networks.
Instead of standing up to Donald Trump, executives from ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, CNN, and Fox News have basically turned their coverage over to the Republican frontrunner. This means that all three cable networks (MSNBC is owned by NBC), and all three traditional broadcast networks are not practicing journalism. The networks have allowed Donald Trump to turn their coverage into propaganda for his presidential campaign.
The reason the footage of violence at his rallies comes from people in attendance more often than members of the media is because the media has agreed to stay in one fenced off area and not shoot anything but Trump’s face. As the Buzzfeed article pointed out, the network cameras have intentionally allowed themselves not to be positioned to capture the crowd.
The obvious advantages for Trump are that there are no shots of any violence broadcast live on television, and there is also no network live footage to dispute his lies about crowd size. The media has been trending in the direction of willing Republican accomplices since they refused to push back on George W. Bush’s lies before the Iraq war.
Driven by ratings and a mandate from corporate ownership to turn a profit, news executives have sold out duty to inform the public in exchange for more access to Donald Trump. The media playing field is not fair. The Democratic nominee that might face Donald Trump in the general election is not going to be on equal footing.
The next time one of Donald Trump’s incoherent speeches is plastered wall to wall on every news network, remind yourself that this is happening because the networks sold you out. The best way to break the networks’ Trump addiction is to vote with your remote.
When Donald Trump’s face shows up on your screen, change the channel. If enough Americans turn off Trump, the networks will be forced to end their biased coverage.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association