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OPINION

TV Networks Make Waves for Trump

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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The fascination of the news media with Donald Trump is ironic, to say the least. For people who have long lamented the domination of Big Money in politics, these reporters are presenting Mr. Big Money himself with a ticker tape parade of free media.
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It could be considered hypocritical, too. Big Money is a bad thing -- unless they're the ones making it. Fox's 24 million viewers for their debate proved Trump's market value; ever since that debate, it's been all media, all the time for him.

One might have assumed that other candidates would have gotten more attention after the debate, but the Trump trend has only intensified. A new study of evening news by the Media Research Center reveals that in the two weeks leading up the debate, Trump drew 26 minutes and 40 seconds of evening news coverage -- compared to 22 minutes and 16 seconds for the entire rest of the GOP field.

But in the two weeks following the debate, Trump drew almost 70 minutes of coverage, which is almost 2.5 times as much as the rest of the field (27 minutes, 38 seconds) combined. You can't say this doesn't affect the polls. Voters relying on TV news would think there was only one serious contender in the race.

Consider this anecdote: On August 17, the day Trump went to jury duty, the evening newscasts gave him almost five minutes of coverage, more than any of his rivals not named Bush received in the two weeks after the debate. And he was off the campaign trail!

Then reporters declare mischievously that Trump is "dominating the national conversation" and depriving the other Republicans of "oxygen," as if they had absolutely nothing to do with that, which they alone control.

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The coverage of Trump hasn't been positive, and it no doubt reflects a partisan glee within the liberal media, as explained by former Newsweek writer Jonathan Alter on MSNBC. "They're getting what they deserve. They have created 'Trumpenstein.' It's their own Frankenstein monster."

In the minds of liberal journalists, one can't seriously question the liberal tilt toward greater and greater leniency on illegal immigration. To them, it is self-evidently racist and politically disastrous. Yet the more they say this, the stronger he gets.

This Trump trend has also led to the Republican race getting far more TV attention. In the first six months of 2015, the parties were close to even in coverage, despite the one-sided Democrat race -- 191 minutes for the GOP, 151 for the Democrats. But since July 1, Trump's ascent has led to a much greater disparity: 222 minutes for the Republicans, just 70 for the Democrats.

For the leftists pushing "campaign finance reform," it looks really bleak. In these four weeks, while Trump drew almost 97 minutes of televised attention, Bernie Sanders -- that socialist dragon-slayer of Big Money Domination -- drew less than four.

Hillary Clinton was granted 64 minutes of coverage. But what's amazing about the Democratic side is how these same networks have put on Trump over and over again on their weekday and Sunday interview shows in the morning, while Clinton appears nowhere ... and no one finds that a remarkably odd way for Clinton to (not) campaign for president.

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By contrast, eight years ago, a Media Research Center study found Hillary Clinton (and her campaign aides) were granted the most morning-show interview air time with 89 minutes. The closest Republican, Mitt Romney, had 40.

No one seems to think that Clinton looks weak and cowardly. Perhaps her latest fiasco of a press conference, with bad jokes about wiping her e-mail server with a cloth, makes Democrats think it's wise for her to steer clear of the press. But it's hard to imagine her tackling Trump when she can't even take on her foundation donor, George Stephanopoulos.

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