People with selective memory (i.e., most of us) don’t seem to recall that the press was in a similar panic when John McCain announced Sarah Palin as his running mate -- particularly as they surged ahead of Barack Obama in the polls. They couldn’t explain it and actually seemed angry that something might conflict so strongly with their preferred narrative.
It wasn’t until the economy started to collapse at virtually the same time that McCain said that the economy was not his strong suit, that McCain/Palin fell apart.
Cable news reporters on CNN and MSNBC were almost giddy after Donald Trump’s comments about John McCain. They thought this was finally the thing that would hurt him. They simply didn’t understand. Donald Trump is acting like he’s still running "The Apprentice." I almost expected him to say, “John McCain is a hero because he was captured. I like people who aren’t captured. John, you’re fired.”
While MSNBC was trashing Trump and Fox News was sort of defending him, CNN, always terrified it might offend someone, was walking back its story, reluctantly acknowledging that if you watch the full exchange, Trump never actually said McCain was not a war hero.
One problem is that cable news reporters have no idea how to deal with Donald Trump.
They are used to lying about what a politician they don’t like says or taking something out of context for a quick sound byte. Then, they just move on because the politician has no real platform to constantly respond to misquotes.
Ideological politicians need to stay on message. Trump is different. He has no real ideology, so he can attack the left and right with equal gusto having no general platform he needs to defend.
Cameras will cluster wherever Trump shows up. And he will come out every time there’s something he doesn’t like and say, wait a minute, you’re lying, I never said that.
Ordinarily, Democrats running for office stay away from the conservative bias of Fox News, while Republicans stay away from the liberal bias of MSNBC. Donald Trump doesn’t care. He says whatever he wants no matter who is interviewing him, and when he gets the typical biased question he just replies: “you’re being silly,” or “Come on, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
As Trump makes one reporter after another look like biased amateurs, they remain clueless as their networks re-run the interviews throughout the week. Then they seem perplexed when his poll numbers rise.
While he likely won’t win the nomination, he will continue to be a force. He may actually be good for the Republican party. Unlike in 2012, we won’t see a series of marginal candidates one after the other take the lead for a month and drive independents away from the GOP. The mainstream GOP candidates can distance themselves from Trump, not get the negative press they otherwise would have received, and then proclaim, OK, the summer replacement series is over, here’s Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and one or two others. Pick one.
How many people will watch a 10-candidate Republican debate in the first week of August? With Trump involved, probably three or four times as many who otherwise might. While the Donald may trump cable news, ratings trump everything when you have 24 hours a day of airtime to fill.