There’s a dirty little secret between Donald Trump and the media that at this point isn’t much of a secret. A symbiosis exists between us; we use him and he uses us. Now that his presidency is mercifully taking its last gasp, can we quit him and return to a modicum of sanity and normalcy? Starting in January, can we string together a few Trump-free news cycles? More to the point: can we quit taking his bait? Or are we doomed to cover Trump’s antics as a sort of shadow presidency?
Doing so will be tempting. Even as Trump has sought to undermine the media as “fake news” and “enemies of the people,” we have laughed all the way to the bank. This was true almost from the beginning. “It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS,” admitted Les Moonves, the network’s CEO, during the 2016 presidential campaign. “Sorry. It's a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going.”
Keep going he did. Moonves wasn’t afraid to drag our dirty little secret into the light. Trump is great for the media. He’s great for ratings. He’s entertaining. Even people who hate him can’t help but watch him. Rubbernecking exists because we can’t take our eyes off of a horrific crash. If it bleeds, it leads. You know the story.