Back in 1968, Roger Ailes was about to become the future head of Fox News. He wanted to quickly raise the channel’s ratings so he came up with a plan to feature Richard Nixon on television. However, there was a problem. It was difficult to get Richard Nixon on television without it being controlled and filtered by what he felt was a hostile media. As a solution, he created his own staged Nixon TV specials and offered them to TV stations. Forty-eight years later, CNN was effectively doing the same for Trump’s presidential campaign, free of charge. The motive behind this was simple: ratings. Jeff Zucker, the head of CNN, is also the man who employed him to present the show ‘The Apprentice’ when he worked at NBC.
Dan Kennedy, an associate professor in the School of Journalism at the Northeastern University, shared his views on the issue at a post-election forum held at the Northeastern University. He heavily criticised broadcast media for giving Donald Trump billions of dollars in free advertising. He went on to add that it was shocking that his competitors weren’t given the opportunities he received. Participating students believed that media outlets had started to become openly biased towards Trump because there was a sense that this election was different. They believed they needed to pick aside. The campaign was termed as ‘the dirtiest presidential race since 1972’.
Many experts believe that media coverage indeed helped Donald Trump clinch the Republican nomination. In its absence, it is difficult to imagine that Trump could have won. He often dominated news coverage and made it difficult for other Republican candidates to stand out. However, it is also believed that the boost that helped Trump’s presidential campaign was primarily due to those who were predisposed to finding his message appealing.