How did we get to a point where a reality television star will likely be the Republican nominee for president? Faced with this question on Monday, The Daily Show's Trevor Noah gave one answer: the news media.
Specifically, Noah argued that the media, in chasing the amazing ratings that come with Trump, has hyped up his presidency, turning him into a serious contender.
Noah pointed to CBS CEO Les Moonves's comments at a Morgan Stanley investors conference: "Who would have thought that this circus would come to town? … It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS."
"He's no fool," Noah said. "What he said about CBS is what everybody in the business is thinking."
Noah pointed to an analysis by the New York Times that found Trump has gotten nearly $1.9 billion in free media.
"That's the equivalent of every commercial in the Super Bowl for the last five years," Noah said. "Frankly, America would be better off with President Puppymonkeybaby" — a reference to the bizarre Super Bowl ad.
In comparison, Hillary Clinton was the closest candidate to Trump at $746 million of free media, followed by Bernie Sanders at $321 million.
But there's one problem with Noah's claim: Did the news media really prop up Trump, or did Trump's dramatic rise force the media to cover him? After all, Trump was leading the polls just one month after he announced his campaign. He did so despite making racist, sexist, and xenophobic remarks and despite his complete lack of credentials for a presidential run. The media couldn't ignore that.
Maybe the real issue, then, is that Republican elites ignored a real part of their base that's skeptical of trade and immigration, and Trump was the only person who gave those people a voice in the presidential race. But that's a more complicated — and potentially scarier — story than blaming the media.