In his latest op-ed, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni speculates about how the media should handle reporting on Donald Trump if the GOP nominee loses the election. Trump, Bruni asserts, won’t depart the national stage quietly, and thus the media “will face a moment of truth: Do we care chiefly about promoting constructive discussion and protecting this blessed, beleaguered democracy of ours? Or are we more interested in groveling for eyeballs and clicks?”
From the New York Times:
We need rules for quitting [Trump], guidelines for the circumstances in which coverage of him is legitimate and those in which it isn’t. That distinction is all the more crucial because he seems poised to undermine important institutions and the democratic process itself. We can lend that effort more credibility or less by paying rapt attention to it or not.
The closest contemporary antecedent to Trump is Sarah Palin…. She kept venturing out in various ways, and there were various signs that she’d become a symbol and a spokeswoman for a sizable political constituency. We didn’t quit her.
But she never loomed as large as Trump does, and her reach was abridged in ways that his might not be. She didn’t have, around her, the sorts of advisers and ready-made media machine that Trump has assembled, especially since he brought Breitbart News’ Stephen Bannon onboard. She didn’t have Trump’s money. She didn’t have his decades of practice at manipulating journalists.
He may well be using this campaign as a pivot into a new media venture, which would be a bona fide business story. But it would not be an excuse to record his every insult or attend to his nonstop naysaying about politics and government.
We can’t outright ignore him, because there are important post-mortems to be written, because he’s a central character in the drama of where the G.O.P. goes from here, and because he has captured the imaginations and vented the frustrations of tens of millions of Americans.
Read the rest here.