Reliable Is as Reliable Does

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 7.55.05 PMWhen your news channel has been riding the Trump train at full throttle, goosing the ratings by overdosing on The Donald at every opportunity, sooner or later somebody is going to question the over-coverage. So what better tactic than for CNN itself to address that issue in another very special one-hour all-Trump edition of Reliable Sources? That’s what’s been announced for Sunday:

Special hour tomorrow: examining “The Disconnect.” Did news outlets miss Trump’s rise & dismiss Trump’s supporters?

The news media disconnect came in two phases. First was before the announcement; this is when characters like Lawrence O’Donnell repeated his long-standing prediction that “Donald Trump will never run for President.” When that proved wrong the prediction was amended to he won’t file, he won’t disclose his finances, etc. Michael Luciano was no Nostradamus either:

All of this explains why Trump will never run…he would be rebuked by voters in spectacular fashion because he is so transparently self-aggrandizing that he could never successfully fake wanting what’s best for America.

So dearly were these fantasies held at MSNBC that even after Trump announced his run, well into the campaign, there sat O’Donnell, joined by his ideological doppelganger Rachel Maddow, to insist Trump still isn’t really running! Their theory: he is deliberately sabotaging his own campaign so that he’ll fall in the polls, bow out, go back to his day job and bask in the publicity. (There must be something in the water at 30 Rock.)

The Cable Gamer doesn’t know if Brian Stelter will address any of those media misfires on Reliable Sources, but flashbacks like this might spice up the hour:

HABERMAN: People do want to read about Trump.  That doesn’t mean they’re going to vote for him…

COPPINS:   Right…I think the key distinction, I think that’s true. And the key distinction is that he thinks that this somehow gets him credibility. The fact is, everybody pointing and laughing at him doesn’t necessarily make him a more credible political figure.

STELTER: Well, entertainers are there to be pointed at and to be laughed at.

COPPINS: Right.

STELTER: Does the press have more of a responsibility to almost surround the stories with a warning label that say we know this guy isn’t serious?

(LAUGHTER)

…STELTER:  Well, thank you all for being here and having a very meta conversation with me about not covering Donald Trump.

Watch this segment and note the laughter, head-nodding, and bubble agreement where no one steps outside the conventional wisdom box. Instead they go even further off base by speculating that Trump will avoid the press!

It doesn’t look like Reliable Sources will revisit this bit of prescient punditry on Sunday’s show: Haberman and Coppins are not on the guest list. That’s too bad; a little self-reflection never hurts. Perhaps Mr. Stelter will salute those who didn’t fall into the “disconnect” trap and saw things more clearly:

I’ve been saying from the beginning that the never-in-doubt pundits were completely underestimating Donald Trump and his ability to blow up the presidential race.

Even as he climbed to the top of the Republican polls, even as organized journalism struggled for a way to explain his appeal, I’ve argued that he touches a nerve with tough talk about the much-loathed political and media establishment.

The Cable Gamer could be wrong, but she doesn’t think it likely this guy will be singled out for praise on Reliable Sources.

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