Donald Trump has received an incredibly high level of media coverage compared to other presidential candidates. So much so that the Washington Post's John Sides and others have gone so far as to say we should blame (or credit) the media for Trump's high standing in the polls.
But in his opening monologue for the Emmys, Andy Samberg delivered a brief joke that does a brilliant job illustrating what that account leaves out — the Trump coverage has largely been of Trump saying and doing horrible things.
That's the whole joke. Trump seems like a racist. And people get the joke because Trump has been very widely covered.
If you know anything about politics in 2015 you know what Donald Trump has been saying, and you know it's been racist stuff. When you hear that media coverage has powered a candidate into first place, you expect it to be positive coverage. You might be happy about that if you think the positive coverage is deserved or you might be angry about it if you think the coverage has been insufficiently critical.
But Trump hasn't been getting particularly positive coverage. It's coverage that makes him look good only if racism seems like an appealing attribute. It's no coincidence that as the conservative establishment has turned against Trump, it's white nationalists who've lead the pro-Trump backlash. That makes for a much more complicated — and disturbing — phenomenon than a simple media-fueled polling surge like what we've seen from Ben Carson recently.