Donald Trump has said a great many controversial, factually inaccurate, and offensive things during his presidential candidacy. But every so often, he's refreshingly honest about how the world works — like that time he blatantly admitted that he donated to politicians so he could get favors from them later.
During a campaign rally in Dallas on Monday, Trump was similarly blunt about what's driving the massive coverage he's getting on TV news. Here's what he said, according to MSNBC's transcript (and flagged by the Daily Howler's Bob Somerby):
You know, on television, on FOX and CNN, they call it all Trump all the time. Can you believe it? All Trump all the time.
And by the way, their ratings are through the roof. If they weren't, they wouldn't put me on. I`ll be honest with you. It's a simple formula in entertainment and television. If you get good ratings — if you get good ratings — and these aren`t good, these are monster — then you'll be on all the time, even if you have nothing to say.
If you come up with a cure for a major, major horrendous disease and if you don`t get ratings, they won`t bother even reporting it. It`s very simple business. Very simple.
There you have it — Trump is freely admitting that his vast success at getting media coverage has absolutely nothing to do with his substantive ideas.
Of course, not all of the coverage he's getting is out of a base desire for ratings — his platform is genuinely unusual for a Republican candidate, his popularity poses questions about the future of the GOP's immigration policy, and the frontrunner in the polls naturally deserves to be covered.
But not this much. Since the first debate, Trump got more nightly news coverage than every other Republican candidate combined. His coverage on cable has been similarly disproportionate — for instance, CNN and MSNBC both aired large portions of Trump's Dallas rally live in primetime, despite the fact that he was just giving his ordinary campaign speech. Indeed, the Wrap's Jordan Chariton reported that last week, CNN producers complained to network president Jeff Zucker at a town hall about the nonstop Trump coverage. (Zucker later told the Los Angeles Times that he's "very comfortable with our proportion of [Trump] coverage.")
As Trump says, this is obviously driven by the huge ratings that coverage of him can deliver. A similar dynamic is at work in online media — stories about Trump are much more likely to be clicked on and shared on social media.
Of course, ratings and click-throughs measure actual interest from actual people. The general public is just far more interested in Donald Trump content than it is in content about any of his rivals. And, be honest, you probably are, too — you're reading this post, after all.