You hear it all the time, and perhaps you even sit and wonder as you watch TV: Do the networks take it easy on Donald Trump because they’re afraid he’ll cut off all access if they happen to anger him by being too tough with their questions? Last night on the MSNBC show “The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell,” reporter Tony Dokoupil seemed to spill the beans on the matter.
The main topic of the conversation between Dokoupil and O’Donnell was the April 5 GOP primary in Wisconsin and the interview Trump had given to Charlie Sykes, a radio host in Utah. In that interview, Sykes had basically called Trump childish and wondered aloud how a man as immature and unsteady as the real estate mogul could ever be trusted to run the most powerful nation in the world.
Dokoupil remarked that Sykes had a distinct advantage over most other news outlets: He did not have to worry about ticking off the Donald and being deep sixed for all future interviews. The Sykes interview was a one-time thing. It would never happen again, so Sykes had nothing to lose by being as rancorous as possible and letting Trump have it with both barrels. Dokoupil noted that Sykes had “pushed it as much as he could.” But what Dokoupil said next is what was most interesting. He told O’Donnell:
“[Sykes] does not even have to go back to Donald Trump ever again. People who are on the beat — people who work for our network — they have to keep that relationship going for a long, long time. Charlie did not have that burden. And as a result he has the luxury of being incredibly blistering.”
Ah, now we see! Dokoupil was basically admitting that reporters who have to cover Trump for the course of a campaign make sure to only pitch softballs to him so they will continue to be in his good graces. That sounds like the very antithesis of what is taught in every journalism school in this country.
O’Donnell attempted to gloss over what Dokoupil had just said, but the cat was already fully out of the bag. O’Donnell said:
“Well I don’t think the fact that you have to cover Donald Trump means that you then play softball with him so you guarantee he will speak to you another time. Once the mission of an interview is to get the next interview with the same person, we know how soft that interview’s going to be.”
Apparently Lawrence O’Donnell needs to either go back and read a transcript of what Dokoupil actually said, or he needs a hearing aid. We knew it, didn’t we? The questions are designed not to upset Trump. That way you get to ask him some other inane things down the road. That’s what they call journalism?
Here’s the segment from last night’s show:
This article was originally published by the same author at BipartisanReport.com.