Topic: Media Research Center
Nicholas Fondacaro devoted a Feb. 24 NewsBusters post to ranting about what he declared was NBC's Chuck Todd's claim that it's the job of opposing campaigns, not the media, to vet Donald Trump -- and get it completely wrong:
MSNBC’s Chuck Todd washed the media's collective hands on Wednesday evening by claiming the other campaigns could use all the previous media coverage to cobble together into attack ads:
“A common criticism you’ve heard is that Trump's rise is the media's fault, because we have enabled his rise. But, folks, you could argue that the media has also provided all the material that normally a campaign would want to put together an attack against Trump.”
Todd’s analysis feigned objectivity while barely scratching the surface. This kind of coverage of Trump is nothing new. A recent MRC study found that most coverage of Trump has little to do with his old, self-admitted, liberal positions or any vetting of his past of any kind.
A proper vetting is probably something they are waiting to do until after Trump is the GOP presidential nominee – all the better to assist the Democratic nominee – a technique that was unitized against past GOP nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney. During the 2012 presidential campaign the media dug into every corner of Romney’s past. They ran story after story about the Romney family dog being caged on the roof of their car during a road trip. The media even dug up a story about a bullying incident from when Romney was in high school.
For Chuck Todd to insinuate that it’s not the media’s job to dig into a candidate’s past or fully vet a candidate for the public is just plain ridiculous. Todd laid the this duty at the feet of the other candidates stating “Folks, those are all inconsistencies that a normal campaign that was running against Donald Trump would probably put together, into TV ads and try to see if it would leave a mark with voters.”
For a member of the media to advocate for campaigns alone to do the vetting is an abdication of journalistic duty.
Fondacaro's interpretation is wrong -- so wrong, in fact, that Todd himself complained to the Media Research Center, resulting in a editor's note added to the top stating that the post's headline had been changed from "Chuck Todd: It's not the media's job to vet Trump's past," agreeing with Todd that "it wasn't an accurate sense of his statements."
What Todd said is that the media has put critical information about Trump out there -- contrary to Fondacaro's assertion -- and the campaigns of Trump's opponents have plenty of ammuntion should they decide to use it. He's right; for instance, the Washington Post reported on the scammy nature of Trump University way back last September -- CNN was reporting on it as far back as 2013 -- but it was not until the most recent GOP presidential debate that any of his opponents called him out on it.
(Not that you'll see that mentioned at the MRC, which apparently thinks "the media" is just the evening news on the three broadcast networks, and put out a piece by Mike Ciandella following that debate whining about the lack of coverage there.)
Fondacaro is effectively demanding that the media be biased against Trump. So why is the MRC so mad when there's anti-Trump bias in the media?
Two days later, Tim Graham complained that a Washington Post editorial pointed out that Trump's campaign declaration to deport all illegal immigrants would be " a forced movement on a scale not attempted since Stalin or perhaps Pol Pot." You'd think that would be the kind of comparison Graham would favor since his boss, Brent Bozell, is avowedly anti-Trump.
But Graham instead laments the Post's "unhinged comparisons that make no historical sense," then quickly changed the subject to Clinton-bashing, perhaps remembering that it's not really company policy to be defending Trump at all.