What’s the media obsession with Donald Trump? Ratings.

September 11, 2015
Category: Uncategorized
Tom Cawthon / Poynter

Tom Cawthon / Poynter

The media keeps covering Trump because that’s what people are watching said political analyst Ana Navarro.

On Thursday night, Ana Navarro, the political commentator on CNN and ABC’s “The View,” joined Tampa Bay Times Political Editor Adam Smith for a community conversation at The Poynter Institute. The discussion that was centered around the upcoming elections touched on candidates ranging from Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders, immigration as an agenda item in the elections and the importance of the millennial vote.

Navarro, who is a Republican political strategist, has been an advisor for Jeb Bush and is a close friend of Marco Rubio.

“Donald Trump is very, very rich – as he has told us many, many times. But he is also very, very cheap,” said Navarro. “He hasn’t spent one dime on paid media. But he is at it all the time.” It also has to do with availability, she mentions. No other person is that easily available for a phone in on a Sunday. In addition, when he is on the air, “the ratings are through the roof.”

Donald Trump has thrown a kink in this that nobody expected. You are not running against a normal person. You are running against an entertainer. Somebody for whom rules don’t matter and rules don’t apply. Donald Trump defies gravity. He has already done ten different things that should have sunk him. And instead, he is floating and continuing going up.

With the media choosing to focus on the quick, entertaining story, Navarro was asked if policy issues would ever be more emphasized. Although she acknowledged that policy issues are something that should be discussed more often, she said the entertainment factor will never totally go away.

“We are at a crux where reality TV entertainment meets politics. That’s part of why it is so weird.” Topics such as policy don’t make for good television. “A discussion about tax policy and growth is wonkish and hard to have sound bytes about.”

Tom Cawthon / Poynter

Tom Cawthon / Poynter

How does one turn into a political pundit for TV?

“You do a lot of free TV before you get paid.”

There is no one given path to go from not being on TV to actually being on the screen, she said. You have to keep all your doors open and be welcoming towards opportunities. In her case, Navarro did a lot of surrogate speaking and campaign work for John McCain and Marco Rubio. She continued to get invitations to be on TV even after the campaigns were over.

“It is fine with getting your hair and make up made and all that. But I was like ‘Show me the money.’