Early on, media executives in charge of much of America’s broadcasting industry were worried that Donald Trump, who eschewed traditional political advertising, might dampen prospects for a high-spending campaign season.
That fear is gone.
The Intercept reviewed the past six months of investor earnings calls and presentations of major media companies. In the first few months of this year, some executives expressed concern that Trump might continue to rely on his extraordinary free media exposure and spend less money than traditional Republican candidates. But over the last two months, the concern has dissipated and transformed into excitement that this year is on track to be the most expensive election in history.
In reviewing the transcripts, we observed no discussions during any of the calls about the media’s role in creating the Trump phenomenon, or the media’s duty to present voters with the information necessary to make informed decisions.
Indeed, Trump’s rise has been paved by nonstop, largely tabloid coverage in broadcast media that has drowned out his competitors and pushed coverage of policy issues to the margins. By March of this year, Trump had received nearly $2 billion in free media coverage, precluding the need for significant advertising spending.