How the news media helped nominate Trump

Donald Trump’s rise to Republican Presidential Nominee has raised important questions regarding the media’s relationship with political institutions and candidates. In “How the News Media Helped to Nominate Trump” Julia R. Azari offers valuable insight into how news media has come to work within, not against, the political institutions that shape nominations. This article is part of The Forum – a new section of Political Communication centered on dynamic scholarly review of books, articles, and ideas of importance to researchers, journalists, students, and the public.

Divisive among Republicans and lacking the sophisticated campaign operations of his establishment opponents, Donald Trump couldn’t rely on his party to narrow the primary ballot as they had for George W. Bush in 2000. Trump relied instead on wide message dissemination from a news media with more to gain in propping up a brash, disruptive candidate. “In this regard,” writes Azari, “the news media – likely without trying – performed a core party function.” The media also assisted Trump by framing the institution of the presidency as a position of near-unlimited power to shape policies and outcomes. “Reporting that amplifies Trump’s claims about what he would do as president – even if coupled with questions and criticism” writes Azari, “…has likely fed into this impression of presidential power.” These circumstances lead Azari to propose that “the media’s main institutional role comes from repeating, rather than challenging, promises, frameworks, and narratives.”