This week we’ve seen a flurry of media activity that, up until the start of this election, wouldn’t have been noteworthy at all. Three days in a row, the likely Republican presidential nominee was… challenged by a journalist.
Yep, that’s it. Welcome to 2016.
On Monday, #NeverTrump-er and conservative Wisconsin radio host Charlie Sykes held Trump’s feet to the fire on his bullying and complete lack of policy knowledge.
On Wednesday, Chris Matthews wouldn’t let Trump snake out of a question about punishing women for having abortions, even though it was clear mid-interrogation that Trump didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.
Good. These aren’t “gotcha” questions. They’re questions. Anyone who wants to lead the free world should have to answer them.
I’m not asking for much. All I want is for the national media, rather than asking Donald Trump about the controversies he purposefully creates to divert their attention, to ask him about him. Ask him questions he hasn’t heard before. Ask him policy questions to which you know he doesn’t know the answer, but that you would expect any other presidential candidate to answer easily.
It’s no secret why this hasn’t happened: Donald Trump is a money machine for media outlets. Personalities like the Morning Joe bunch don’t want to lose access to Trump’s campaign, so they let him call in to their show, or lob him softball questions at a specially-programmed town hall.
Or they simply let him have the floor, like when Fox and Friends asked, “Were you right?” in response to the Brussels bombings. Trump had previously called Brussels a “disaster.”
Donald Trump calls everything a disaster.
If there’s a single quote that explains this entire election cycle, it’s from CBS Chairman Les Moonves, about all of the free media his company gave Donald Trump:
“It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.”
The news networks can hide behind a false sense of neutrality — Look at how many millions of his supporters agree with building an impossible wall! — but to do so ignores their responsibility to report for the sake of the public good, instead of just for the… public.
When you really listen to them, it’s crystal clear: If Trump goes down, so does our bottom line.
Enough is enough. The overlap between “Questions presidents need to know how to answer” and “Questions we haven’t asked Donald Trump” is incredibly large, and perhaps larger for Trump than any major candidate in recent history. We need to ask them — and demand a straight answer.
Better to ask those questions now than find out how Trump answers them with his finger on the gold-plated nuclear button. It’s a beautiful button, really. The best.
Photo: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event in Tucson, Arizona March 19, 2015. REUTERS/Sam Mircovich