Analyst buries myth that Trump supporters don’t get enough attention or represent 'half the country'
CNN's defense for hosting the controversial Donald Trump town hall because he represents "a large swath of America” was thoroughly debunked by the Washington Post on Friday as the network continues to reel from the firestorm it created despite warnings beforehand.
In his column for the WaPo, analyst Philip Bump noted that CNN chairman and CEO Chris Licht and popular host Anderson Cooper have rushed out statements that the network is just being inclusive and is trying to put a spotlight on a part of the electorate that is undercovered.
Speaking to his own employees, Licht stated, "While we all may have been uncomfortable hearing people clapping, that was also an important part of the story," before adding they represent "a large swath of America.”
Host Anderson Cooper doubled down on Thursday night, telling his viewers, "That man you were so upset to hear from last night, he may be president of the United States in less than two years, and that audience that upset you, that’s a sampling of about half the country,” and then partially conceding, "You have every right to be outraged and angry, never watch this network again. But do you think staying in your silo and only listening to people you agree with is going to make that person go away?”
According to Bump, their arguments simply aren't true.
"To a large extent, this is a false dichotomy. The choice is not between not understanding Trump’s politics at all and giving him an opportunity to speak live on cable television. To suggest that it is, in fact, is to undermine all of the other excellent reporting on Trumpthat occurs on CNN and elsewhere," he wrote before adding he can understand why they are taking that stance.
Using graphs, which can be seen here, he demonstrated that media coverage of Trump and his supporters, going back to Bill Clinton was more than double. the other presidents combined.
In particular he noted CNN, "...has collectively mentioned the supporters of Obama, Romney, Clinton and President Biden about 10,000 times since January 2010. It has mentioned Trump’s supporters more than 22,000 times. The pattern is similar on the other cable-news channels: Mentions of Trump supporters far exceed the other candidates, combined. On MSNBC, as on CNN, it’s a 2 to 1 ratio."
As for the assertion that Trump represents a solid half of the country, Bump suggested that is a misreading of voters' reasons for going to the polls.
"Independents who lean toward one party generally do so in large part because they oppose the other party," he explained. "In other words, Republican-leaning independents are often motivated not by agreement with the Republican Party — which they could certainly join if they wanted to — but opposition to the Democrats. Joe Biden’s victory in 2020 was driven by support from independents, many of whom were less enthusiastic about him than they were frustrated at Trump."
He concluded, "There’s no question that much of the focus on Trump supporters derives from the reality that media outlets like CNN (and The Washington Post) are centered in large metropolitan areas where right-wing, rural people are definitionally underrepresented. There was surprise, including from within Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, that hostility to 'elites' was as deep as Trump’s success indicated."
"But that surprise evaporated by early in Trump’s term in office, thanks in part to a flurry of reports on precisely the people that CNN now posits need to be elevated. They have been already, thanks in part to CNN," he pointedly added.
You can read more here.
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