Trump's Contentious Relationship with the Media

Jun 1, 2016

At a press conference yesterday,  ABC News’ Tom Llamas pressed Donald Trump for details on a discrepancy between charitable donations to veterans' groups he had claimed at a January rally in Iowa and actual records of those donations on the books. 

"Mister Trump, writing a million dollar check is incredibly generous, but that night of the Iowa fundraiser you said you had raised six million dollars," he said. "Clearly you had not. Your critics say you tend to exaggerate, you have a problem with the truth--is this a prime example?

Trump responded to the question with a few sentences, but was far from done with the subject. A few minutes later, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee called the reporter a sleaze, and lambasted the news media for several minutes, singling out political journalists specifically.

"I'm going to continue to attack the press," Trump said. "Look, I find the press to be dishonest. I find the political press to be unbelievably dishonest."

Dave Andersen, assistant professor of political science at Iowa State University, says this type of diatribe doesn't hurt Trump.

"Trump continues to show that he just understands the media perhaps better than how the media understands themselves," he says.

How does he do it?

"He reduces all of his statements to a short, very catchy kind of jingle that will get play over the media, whether it's radio or TV or internet, and people tune into it," Andersen says. "He is not running a presidential candidacy so much as he is running a reality TV show and people love reality TV."

Given the public's appetite for neatly packaged and understood drama, Andersen isn't sure there's a way for the media to "fight back," so to speak. 

"He understand that they take these big, complex questions and they have to distil it into short stories that are catchy. And he skips the complicated part, and he goes right to the catchy part. And there's really no way out of that," Andersen says.

In this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Andersen and with Tim Hagle, associate professor of political science at the University of Iowa, about the press coverage of the 2016 election.