On Saturday evening, New York Times columnist Nick Kristof published a column criticizing the media for helping lead to the rise of Donald Trump. Of the media, Kristof writes, “We were lap dogs, not watchdogs.”
Kristof attributes this to three major failures on the part of the media. First, the news media gave large amounts of airtime to Trump “without adequately fact-checking him or rigorously examining his background.” Second, the media treated Trump as a joke. Many commentators and reporters referred to the “Summer of Trump” and wondered when, not if, he would drop out. Finally, the fourth estate failed to understand the anger held by middle and lower class Americans that led to Trump’s rise.
Many have accused journalists of not looking into what led to Trump’s rise or understanding the root causes. On Sunday, CNN’s Reliable Sources dedicated the entire hour to the “Trump disconnect,” looking at how the media missed the rise of Trump.
On Twitter, journalists took offense to Kristof’s accusation, arguing that the media had been adequately vetted Trump and that Kristof’s criticism was too simplistic.
Alex Burns of the New York Times argued that the measurement of airtime, which many have cited in their analysis of the media’s treatment of Trump, is not accurate as the time spent was often on controversial remarks.
Even stats about Trump TV time are deceptive–airtime has included much coverage of offensive remarks that have made him toxic to many voters
— Alex Burns (@alexburnsNYT) March 27, 2016
Others were more pointed in their criticism. Chris Cilliza of the Washington Post tweeted, “This is totally unfair and not founded in the reality of the coverage.”
Some were quick to remove themselves from blame. Politico’s Jack Shafer, a media columnist, objected to Kristof’s use of “we” in his article and said, “Include me out.” Ben White, also of Politico, quoted Shafer’s tweet and added, “Include me out as well.”
Josh Tyrangiel of Vox went on a sixteen tweet tweetstorm and said that journalists are hesitant to go too hard on Trump because the American people get to decide their leaders. “But most are doing very well within a paradox: they present facts & presume people will see what’s what,” he tweeted. “And they’re admirably respectful of the fact that citizens get to decide what they to do with their own votes/ideas/money.”