Jan 8, 2016
The potential presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, a media critic when it suits his purposes, is a creature of the media. Trump has a knack for saying outrageous things, and journalists have heaped lavish free coverage on his outrageousness. The result: a candidate who has never held public office and has made the art of personal insult a significant part of his chosen path to the White House.
Piety probably isn't going to solve this problem, but in the Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis a concerted prayer campaign for an end to the politics of outrage and insult could only help. This is not just a matter of practicing civility and niceness. Nothing less than the common good of the nation is ultimately at stake here, and it is no violation of church-state separation to pray earnestly for that.
However all this turns out, the media response to the Trump phenomenon represents pack journalism at its worst. One reporter records the candidate's latest outrageous remark, so all the reporters feel they must do it, too. And have kept on doing it, over and over again, up to the eve of the primary season that's now hard upon us.
Perhaps the journalists believe that they make amends for giving so much attention to Trump by joining their coverage with frequent name-calling. But in fact even the name-calling seems to help Trump. Every knock a boost appears to be the name of the strange game being played by the candidate and the press.