Earlier this year, a Harvard University study proved something most Americans already knew: The media created Donald Trump.
The former reality TV star was once polling low, but then the cable news networks began covering him endlessly, and lo and behold, the bigoted presidential candidate grabbed the limelight and has refused to let it go ever since.
Former CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien, on Sunday, returned to her old stomping grounds to explain this phenomenon and criticize the media for giving disturbing amount of airtime to Trump and his white supremacist surrogates.
“If you look at Hillary Clinton’s speech where she basically pointed out that what Donald Trump has done — actually quite well — has normalized white supremacy,” O’Brien told CNN host Brian Stelter. “I think she made a very good argument, almost like a lawyer. Here is ways in which he has actually worked to normalize conversations that many people find hateful.”
Eviscerating the over-coverage of Trump’s presidential campaign, the broadcaster said the trend has lost all context and grown inescapable — which is fair, considering the bulk of reporting Trump receives for both his bigotry and absurdity.
“I’ve seen on-air, white supremacists being interviewed because they are Trump delegates,” O’Brien noted. “And they do a five minute segment, the first minute or so talking about what they believe as white supremacists. So you have normalized that.”
“And then Donald Trump will say, ‘Hillary Clinton, she’s a bigot.’ And it’s covered, the journalist part comes in, ‘They trade barbs. He said she’s a bigot and she points out that he might be appealing to racists,’” O’Brien elaborated. “It only becomes ‘he said, she said.’ When in actuality, the fact that Donald Trump said she’s a bigot without the long laundry list of evidence, which if you looked at Hillary Clinton’s speech, she actually did have a lot of really good factual evidence that we would all agree that are things that have happened and do exist. They are treated as if they are equal.”
She demanded media networks ask themselves if the GOP candidate is “softening the ground for people who are white supremacists, who are white nationalists, who would self-identify that way, to feel comfortable with their views being brought into the national discourse to the point where they can do a five-minute interview happily on national television?”
“And the answer is yes, clearly,” O’Brien continued. “And there is lots of evidence of that.”
She also noted that since hate speech appeals to a very interested, very angry audience, cable news outlets are profiting off it. O’Brien accused journalists of thinking of ways to rile the viewers, noting they use other “contortions to try to make it seem fair.”
Networks such as CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News have played an undoubtedly a crucial role in allowing Trump to spread his chauvinism by giving him billions worth of free coverage. Considering where the election is headed, it might have been a permanently detrimental choice.
Watch Soledad O’Brien’s complete segment in the video above.