But from that moment on, those in the press seemed unable turn their eyes away. We had
wall-to-wall coverage of every campaign rally, elaborate dissections of charade debates, and the routine drivel of insults and exhortations to violence as Trump inserted himself into our daily lives.
For the first time in—maybe, forever (!)—“politics” were entertaining, and people who’d rarely given such affairs a passing thought were energized. For those of us who didn’t view those bizarre performances in the flesh, every major event was telecast in livid color.
Occasionally, an interviewer would attempt to draw Trump out on his thoughts about the issues of the day, but you didn’t have to be a genius to realize the thinking, unlike the man, was pretty thin. There was little need for the press to discuss policy because with Trump in the White House, the development of coherent in-the-public-interest policy was low priority, almost non-existent … such a low priority that the Republican party didn’t bother to publish a party platform for the 2020 campaign.
And for the press covering Trump, there was always the gaffe du jour, the verbal attacks, the firings and hirings, the lies, always the lies, to cover.
Now, we have a president active in the policy realm. With his leadership, legislators have passed a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill and are seeking a compromise on another bill to fund needed social spending.
The basic job of the press is to inform voters on what’s in those bills and how they will be affected, but much of the focus has been, instead, on the interpersonal squabbling among senators who differ on the total cost. The actual provisions of the bills? Not so much.
Now that we have adults in charge in Washington, the press needs to provide concrete information on what’s at stake, not just a play-by-play of the competition.