The president of the United States was accused, credibly and in detail, of sexual assault by a prominent journalist. One might on its face consider this to be major news. Not on a par in terms of either substantive or prurient interests with, say, compliance with email server management best practices, but a pretty big deal. Had the husband of the most recent Democratic candidate faced similar accusations we can be very confident that it would have dominated several news cycles.
And yet, other than Marty Barron no elite editor treated it as a major story, and the New York Times made it a story in the Books section:
A new report of sexual assault committed by President Donald Trump has come to light, but several major newspapers didn’t find the story important enough to place on their front pages.
On June 21, journalist and advice columnist E. Jean Carroll wrote in The Cut that 23 years ago, Trump assaulted her in a department store dressing room. According to Carroll, Trump “lunge[d] at me, pushe[d] me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly, and [put] his mouth against my lips.” She wrote that he then pulled down her tights and assaulted her. Carroll told two close friends at the time, both of whom “still remember the incident clearly and confirmed their accounts to New York.”
The next day, several major newspapers failed to report the story on their front pages, even though it is horrific, detailed, and extremely similar to the accounts of numerous other women. It also echoes comments Trump has made in the past, saying in 2005, “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”
OK, but what about the teevee?
Two days later, the hosts of the most popular Sunday morning talk shows in the U.S. had opportunity to ask their guests ― often a mix of high-profile Republicans and Democrats ― about Carroll’s horrifying claim and whether to hold the president accountable.
But the allegation went largely undiscussed by major TV networks on Sunday morning, clearing the path for yet another sexual assault allegation against the president to slip into the void.
Obviously, the reasons for this bizarre decision-making are complex, but it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that this is at least part of it:
An important thing to know about television coverage of the 2020 campaign is that it is objectively in the interests (both in terms of ratings and of their taxes) of all the relevant decision-makers to see Trump win. https://t.co/sCms2YpDN4— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) June 23, 2019