Why won’t the press report on Trump scandals? Why do they focus only on Hillary?

by Grania Spingies

TL;DR: it’s not a conspiracy.

It’s a refrain I see in various places on the internet lately: the media simply blows up over every little scandal, fake or otherwise, that involves Hillary Clinton. I think most people would agree that it is reasonable for candidate for the Presidency to be held to a high standard of competency and ethics. A rational person, then, shouldn’t have problems with alleged issues that might show a candidate to be less than ideal. What people are complaining about now, however, is that it is being done unevenly, with Clinton raked over the coals for behavior that isn’t criminal—not a ringing endorsement, but the bar is low this election cycle—and Trump apparently getting the soft-focus treatment that diverts attention away from actual criminal behavior.

Yesterday Diana MacPherson pointed out an example in an article written by Wil Wheaton which asked the question: why have so few media outlets followed up on the news broken by the Washington Post on September 1st about Trump paying off the Florida Attorney General. Media Matters has an analysis of how it has taken a couple of days for the story to make headlines elsewhere. However there are several reasons why this might happen, and none of them point to an anti-Clinton agenda.

  1. This story was a new angle on old news – the original story broke in March so it is reasonable to assume that some of the delay was caused by reporters checking to ascertain what new facts had been uncovered.
  2. Whatever caused the delay, it has certainly been widely covered now. As cover-ups or diversions go, clearly the media didn’t get the memo to give Trump an easy ride:
    Even The Dallas Morning News has broken with its staunch 75 year run of GOP support and not only disavowed Trump but endorsed Hillary as the “only serious candidate”. With even Republican outlets publicly supporting Hillary, claims that there is a nebulous anti-Hillary bias look exceedingly dubious and shaky.
  3. Much of the left-wing media still doesn’t take Trump seriously as a Presidential candidate. To a degree, one can’t blame them, it’s not as if he has come up with a single credible policy position to underline his candidacy. But the media does enjoy their character hit-pieces, and there is only so much room for news about taxes and funds when you can get so much mileage out of Trump’s hair, his wives, his genitals and his hands.

Exhibit A – Here’s a deliberately clickbait-y tweet from The Daily Beast today (hardly a hive of conservative right-wingers, nor the gutter press)


Husband kisses wife. Will the horror never end?

The actual article itself is not nearly so carnie-horror show in its tone and content as the sub-editor’s headline, with the author somewhat sympathetic to Marples if not to Trump. The “gross” moment in question is in fact simply Trump comforting his wife during a very painful labor.


Here’s what The Daily Beast characterizes in that piece as “making out”:

In a candle-filled hospital room, Marla listened to her New Age music and used aromatherapy and massage to ride the waves of her contractions. Marla said she and Donald “did a lot of kissing while I was delivering.” Donald even cut the cord.

Out of a strong field of “gross” or newsworthy moments, this one doesn’t (or shouldn’t) even register.

There is plenty of outrage when right-wing outlets try to dredge up old ghosts of non-stories to try to attack Hillary Clinton—the Lewinsky debacle for one. People are rightly annoyed when Clinton is attacked by opponents wielding only irrelevant smear tactics. However this sort of story is par for the course when it comes to Trump.

The bottom line is this: Trump’s scandals are not ignored by the media, but they certainly can fade into the background since they are constantly drowned out by the frankly pointless jeering that passes for journalism these days, as well as constantly being replaced by fresh Trump scandals.

When the mainstream media reports on Clinton, perhaps it gets noticed more because most of the time the reader does not have to wade through several inches of gratuitous sniggering to get to see it. The media treats her as a legitimate candidate, perhaps the only viable candidate of the current election cycle.

The liberal media needs to rein in the light-weight Trump-sneering and start taking this very seriously. CNN’s most recent poll shows that Clinton’s lead from recent weeks has  reversed itself and the two candidates are now neck and neck. There will be very little to snigger about if, against all expectations, Trump manages to win the election in November.

That doesn’t mean that legitimate criticism of Clinton should be suppressed. If she is to be the next President of the United States, it is all the more critical that genuine problems are discussed openly. Claiming that Clinton is disproportionately targeted by the media is somewhat like claiming that Christians are persecuted for their faith in the United States.


  1. Darrin Carter
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 9:37 am | Permalink


  2. gregfromcos
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    “The bottom line is this: Trump’s scandals are not ignored by the media, but they certainly can fade into the background since they are constantly drowned out by the frankly pointless jeering that passes for journalism these days, as well as constantly being replaced by fresh Trump scandals.”

    But the media has to learn to deal with that, otherwise they create false equivalencies by giving equal scandals unequal coverage.

  3. jay
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    I generally scan Google news, and pretty much can tell if a Trump headline is from the Washington post without looking at the byline.

    Some of the newest reports seem to indicate that Hillary had her server wiped after the Congressional hearing process had started. If that is true, it’s jail material (at least it is for 99% people)

    • Petrushka
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      It’s pretty much admitted that servers or backups were wiped after subpoenas were issued. I think it’s pretty unlikely that Hillary gave a direct order to do this, but the question remains, why is no one being prosecuted?

      And where are the cell phones? You don’t destroy a phone’s memory by hitting a phone with a hammer. Does anyone think that no one picks through the trash of government offices and government officials?

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 8, 2016 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        No one is being prosecuted for the precise reason that FBI director James Comey said no one would be prosecuted — there’s zero evidence that any documents or information were destroyed or withheld in an effort to cover up criminal conduct or to derail a governmental investigation.

        What “crime” are you suggesting someone should be prosecuted for?

    • Mark R.
      Posted September 9, 2016 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      Yet never a mention of the millions of emails deleted/destroyed by Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld et. al.?

  4. Posted September 8, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Scandal and raw dealing are expected if not altogether condoned in the private sector, while public servants are always held to a higher standard.

  5. Posted September 8, 2016 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    That reminds me, it’s time to renew my international passport.

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I would say that Trump is treated differently by the media in general. There are a few reporters out there who do proper articles on Trump but the TV media seems to have a different (lower)standard for Trump vs. Hilary. Even the average person seems to do the same when you see some of them interviewed.

    Today CNN was interviewing three military vets regarding Trumps statements yesterday evening. He had said the Generals have been reduced to rubble and he would fire many of them and get new ones. He also said that Putin was a better leader than Obama. The responses from these veterans seem to miss the point as they attempted to answer the reporter’s questions. They talked about the vets being tired of war that has been going on for so many years and other ideas but they did not seem to take the Trump statements on for what they were.

    Someone running as a candidate for president simply does not make statements like this. A bell should go off in your head…hey, this is almost like treason or at the very least, ignorant words from such a person. As Obama said yesterday when asked about such statements he simply said – The guy is not fit to be president and nearly every statement from him confirms that opinion.

  7. eric
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    The bottom line is this: Trump’s scandals are not ignored by the media, but they certainly can fade into the background since they are constantly drowned out by the frankly pointless jeering that passes for journalism these days, as well as constantly being replaced by fresh Trump scandals.

    I think that last part is really key. The problem is he makes so many gaffes that they only typically get covered for a short time before the media moves on to the next gaffe. If he makes fun of the handicapped on day one and says he wants to bomb Syria on day two, then his making fun of the handicapped won’t be in the news on day three because the news is almost always about the most recent thing. That’s not “not covering” his first gaffe, it’s just an attempt to keep up with them.

    This isn’t always true; the right-wing media have been on Benghazi for so long its literally a meme/joke. CNN has a reputation for covering airline crashes to absurd lengths. But these are bad media practices most of us wish would go away, so I don’t think we should be demanding the media dwell on Trump’s past idiocies or corrupt behavior like Fox did Benghazi or CNN did MalaysiaAir just because we want him to lose. Let’s take the high road here and ask for a reasonably short news cycle for all scandals (Dem or GOP), rather than a retributively long cycle on Trump.

  8. Historian
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    “Much of the left-wing media still doesn’t take Trump seriously as a Presidential candidate.”

    If you mean by “left-wing media” traditional liberal and Democratic leaning news organizations and pundits then I beg to differ. My perception is that they take Trump very seriously. Indeed, they are rightfully scared witless that a narcissistic, sociopathic, ignorant, demagogic, proto-fascist could actually win the election. The problem is that the mainstream media such as CNN feel compelled to treat Trump as if he was just another candidate in another ordinary election. In fact, this is not an ordinary election because of what the consequences would be should Trump win. In contrast to the incessant mainstream media harping on Hillary’s email, most news organizations have hardly pressed Trump on his failure to release his tax returns or his many dubious business ventures and his ties to Putin.

    Just last night on NBC and MSNBC there was a “Commander-In-Chief Forum” hosted by Matt Lauer. Clinton and Trump were each questioned separately for a half hour. Left leaning organizations have already panned Lauer for his hammering away at Clinton about the emails while letting Trump off the hook when Trump claimed he didn’t support the Iraq War (he did) and that he blamed Clinton for getting rid of Gaddafi in Libya (he supported it).

    So, in my opinion, the real problem with the media is continually letting Trump get away with blatant lies, while never relenting about Hillary’s possible untruths. Trump’s bullying tactics, which he has honed to perfection, has worked beautifully on the media.

    • eric
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      This is not rocket science. The ‘why the kid gloves’ question can be answered in two words: future access.

      Why didn’t Lauer call out Trump on his lies? Because he or his network wants future access to Trump, both through November 8th as a nominee and potentially when he’s President. Both media people and organizations know that if they tick Trump off too badly, they’ll lose access in the short tem and that will impact their ratings. In the long term, they could gain the ire and vindictiveness of a POTUS, which would be a very bad thing. So they’re pulling their punches. Not everyone, of course, but most.

      • darrelle
        Posted September 8, 2016 at 11:16 am | Permalink

        You’re right, it isn’t rocket science. It’s pathetic.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted September 8, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink

        What you are saying is – journalism is reduced to a pathetic joke. If Lauer or any other journalist gives the candidate a pass so they will have good access, it’s compromised, junk journalism. I would hope that is not the reason for the poor job. I suspect the TV journalist are just parrots who continue to blow the same smoke. They are just poor journalist who are easily manipulated by their bosses and or the candidate. I think we call them talking heads.

  9. Zado
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Does no one else share my feeling that the operations of the Clinton Foundation are completely tangential to this election? I mean, really, I don’t care. By all means, hold politicians accountable for their fund-raising and fund-doling, but there are more important things — such as who will be the next Commander in Chief of the most powerful military in the world.

    If I found out that the Clinton Foundation was funding orphanages that harvested the organs of un-adoptable children in order to sell them on the transplant black market via a select network of surgeons that kicked back a percentage of their fees to the Clinton Foundation… I would still vote for Hillary before Trump.

    Let’s talk about the Clintons’ shadiness after the election.

  10. KD33
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Focusing on one Trump issue misses the point. Please see:


    Would like to see a discussion here about this.

  11. Steve Zeoli
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I agree there is no conspiracy, just the typical need for the media to appear unbiased. There are so many scandals and questions about Trump and every time the media report on them, they have to dredge up some negative thing about Hillary. So they constantly talk about emails and seem obsessed by them. When you talk about the same issue with one candidate over and over, while dancing from one scandal to another with the other candidate, it is easy to remember the former stories, while the latter fade into the noise of the campaign. It’s crappy journalism, but not a conspiracy.

  12. Posted September 8, 2016 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    My (outsider’s) opinion is that while Clinton receives the usual coverage for a politician in a democratic country, the media are trying to keep Trump in the shadow. My impression is that a lot of people in the media do not want Trump elected, and they think that the more Trump is talked about in the media, no matter how negative, the higher his approval rating.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

      Whereas my “insider’s” opinion (if just being a USian qualifies) is that the media can’t believe that the gift that is Trump has fallen into their laps. Someone who’s always good for yet another outrageous deed or statement–what more could the ever-ravenous news cycle ask for?

  13. John Walsh
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    I agree that there is no true conspiracy re: HRC…but there is what amounts to grossly unfair treatment of her that isn’t that certain unflattering issues concerning her are continually reported and rereported, but that they seem to get equal weight to the truly appalling record that Trump has and the crazy and outright lying things he says daily. On the one hand we have unsecured emails and her unwillingness to provide relevant information to the slimy Benghazi committee (which has been a complete witch hunt and total waste of money created for the sole reason of maligning first Obama and then her), as well as her contacts with her president husband’s by all accounts effective charitable organization.
    While on the other had we have Trump, a person with no qualifications to be a political leader who has made a long and bizarrely narcissistic career out of swindling people, promoting himself on TV, and being an all around vulgar bore. A person who has been found guilty of large scale racial discrimination, consistently maligned the first African Amercan president with proven lies, who despite 4 deferments pretends to be a pro-military tough guy but who actually dares to malign people like John McCain – not always particular favorite of mine but somebody who went in harm’s way for his country, a person who coddles white supremacists, and thinks dictators are admirable leaders. And I could go on and on. Just look at last night. More grilling about emails and markings in emails, while Trump sits there and lies and spouts nonsense and the media running the display calls him on next to nothing. If she pulled a fraction of the crap he pulls the media would shred her.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 10:49 pm | Permalink


  14. Alric
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    I think this article is confusing the explanation with the problem.

    At the “commander-in-chief” interviews last night Trump was not asked about:

    1. His climate change denialism
    2. His Taxes
    3. His previous racist behavior and comments
    4. His unbecoming and disastrous business practices.

    Instead he was asked his opinion on political issues without any follow up questions.

    What the corporate media is doing is propping up Trump as a legitimate candidate to keep the election suspenseful, regardless of the facts.

    • colnago
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      What the corporate media is doing is propping up Trump as a legitimate candidate to keep the election suspenseful, regardless of the facts.

      A competitive race is what generates clicks and sells newspapers. A blowout election is a big yawn for the potential customers of the lame stream media and their Internet cousins.

    • colnago80
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Because blow out elections are bad for selling newspapers and generating clicks.

    • Ben
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

      I think you’ve explained it well. That tracks with what I’ve seen.

  15. colnago
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    What the corporate media is doing is propping up Trump as a legitimate candidate to keep the election suspenseful, regardless of the facts.

    That’s what sells newspapers. Not nearly as much interest in a blowout election, which this one should be.

  16. Bessemer Mucho
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    When Trump was just an ostentatious plutocrat developer or a ridiculous reality TV show host, those of us who find him offensive could just turn away. His run for POTUS seems to be a new method of thrusting his way forward into the consciousness of people who would rather not have to think about him. Many obtrusive boors follow this pattern, but Trump seems to have figured out how to take it as far as possible.

  17. rickflick
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Forget the media. What about the people? How can they make a rational choice between an experienced politician with baggage and a complete Jack Ass with a UPS truck’s worth? About half favor each at this point, which, of course, says more about the voters than the candidates. If Hillary’s indited for deleting emails, Trump’s a shoe in. If Trump murders his campaign manager, it’s goodbye to his infamous ‘brand’. Otherwise, it’s a tight race. Meanwhile I’m checking about getting Canadian citizenship. I think it helps that I was born in Toronto.

    • colnago80
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      If you were born in Toronto, you may have birthright Canadian citizenship. Something to look into.

      • rickflick
        Posted September 8, 2016 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

        That’s what I’m thinking.
        I’m half joking. I probably wouldn’t move because of a Trump presidency. But my heart would fly.

  18. Air
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    The Trump U /Bondi story was not ‘broken’ by the Washington Post on September 1. It has been widely reported by other legitimate sources since March.

  19. Diana MacPherson
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Just to make it clear I never said there was an anti-Clinton agenda and neither did the post I mentioned. The post by WW did talk about how media operates and its need for a “horse race”.

  20. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Why are conservatives so convinced the media is biased towards Clinton? (Especially CNN).

    (Glad to see Wil Wheaton doing good political commentary.)

  21. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 8, 2016 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    You’re right about this Marla Maples business being a complete non-story. Hell, to my mind, the delivery-room-smooching constitutes one of the few instances of socially redemptive conduct on Trump’s part — or would, if I could believe it. Count me skeptical, given the Nixonian-level awkwardness Trump displays on the stump with his lame stabs at public hugging and kissing. (And I say this as one who doesn’t do PDA himself, at least not on people outside the first degree of consanguinity.)

  22. Posted September 8, 2016 at 7:18 pm | Permalink


    This article settles the matter for me. Hillary is redeemable from the flaws she has and good enough to be a stateperson.
    Trump is irredeemable, reckless and wholly unsuited to be POTUS.
    These are the two you get to choose from. Neither wishing otherwise nor gnashing of teeth will change that fact. The RNC had a chance to scuttle Trump and they blew it.
    Nuff said.

    • Historian
      Posted September 8, 2016 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

      As a rule of thumb, you can never go wrong by taking everything Trump says as a lie. He will say anything that pops in his head if he believes it will give him a temporary advantage. The American press as well as his supporters fall for the con every time of taking him seriously. I find it laughable that the media spends so much time trying to dissect what Trump means at any given time. It means nothing, but the press treats his rantings as if it is worth the effort to discuss them. All it needs to do is quickly list his lies and then move on.

  23. Mike
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    From this side of the pond, I watched your primary elections in disbelief,, at the crap that the Candidates on the GOP side were coming out with and that same crap being lapped up by their supporters. So much so that the GOP Presidential Candidate is Trump, a truly ignorant man and a narcissistic megalomaniac to boot. He can’t win the Presidency can he ? well, we must never forget that the Germans elected Hitler.

  24. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Even The Dallas Morning News has broken with its staunch 75 year run of GOP support and not only disavowed Trump but endorsed Hillary as the “only serious candidate”.

    Woah – isn’t that pretty dangerous? Given the number of extreme right-wing wingnuts who seem to emanate from Texas, they’d better have some serious front-desk security. Shades of Charlie Hebdo. For both meanings of “shades”.

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