Commentary: Huffington Post wrong to consign Trump to entertainment section

The Huffington Post has decided wrongly that Donald Trump’s campaign should be stuck closer to its coverage of the Kardashians, U2 or Taylor Swift than of Ted Cruz or Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky:

After watching and listening to Donald Trump since he announced his candidacy for president, we have decided we won't report on Trump's campaign as part of The Huffington Post's political coverage. Instead, we will cover his campaign as part of our Entertainment section. Our reason is simple: Trump's campaign is a sideshow. We won't take the bait. If you are interested in what The Donald has to say, you'll find it next to our stories on the Kardashians and The Bachelorette.

This is especially dubious in an era where the nexus of entertainment and politics is often quite obvious and growing.

One need only look at the dramatic fragmentation in media and how the Obama White House is trying to find niche audiences anywhere it can find them.

That means not just going on lots of late-night and soft afternoon talk shows. It means doing garage podcasts and giving "exclusive" interviews to YouTube stars.

You might think Trump is a buffoon. But he may have, for the moment at least, touched some nerve of dissatisfaction, perhaps partial explanation of his decent showing in some early Republican polls.

Something of the sort happened long ago with some guys who were actually professional actors and were similarly disparaged. They, too, could have been journalistically segregated long ago as not meeting some arbitrary test of seriousness and legitimacy.

You do remember Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, don’t you?

Yes, the current Trump appeal just might not just be a total function of his celebrity, or his notoriety. It’s possible that something may resonate right now, even if smart Vegas oddsmakers would bet on his ultimate political self-immolation.

And then there’s the imminent reality of his being on stage with many other Republican candidates at formal debates.

Since you won’t be able to censor in your coverage whatever he says — no matter how dumb — you’ll have to acknowledge his presence.

So does that mean you stick his debate comments in the features section? Or does one cover the debate in the news section, then return to segregating coverage of his actual campaign?

Yes, the media may now be consigned to a reportorial traffic jam, slowing down and shaking its collective head as it watches the wreck that can seem Donald Trump.

But it doesn’t mean you don’t acknowledge the wreck in a fashion that fits the relative support he’s generating.

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    James Warren

    New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S. News & World Report. Former chief media writer, The Poynter Institute.


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