Bill Maher Says the Media is Compelled to Cover Trump Obsessively Because it's now Beholden to Finance

Comedian Bill Maher attributed exhaustive and obsessive coverage of President Donald Trump by the media to changes in the news industry which mean that it is now beholden to money, not considerations of editorial responsibility.  

On Real Time with Bill Maher, his guest Barbra Streisand questioned why the media continued covering Trump. "I have one question," she said. "Why do we allow the media to keep showing him on TV? Why are we covering his rallies?"

"Because there's money in it," Maher responded. "The media used to be a loss leader; they didn’t care if covering the news made money. And now it has to report to the stockroom like everybody else." 

GettyImages-137030895 Host Bill Maher speaks on stage at the Cinema For Peace event. Michael Buckner/Getty Images For J/P Haitian Relief Organization and Cinema For Peace

Trump has repeatedly criticized the media, maligning critical coverage as "fake news." While the President's supporters have picked up on the rhetoric to attack and malign coverage that does not fit their views, many others across the political spectrum have expressed another frustration  -- that the industry that has grown obsessed with online and television ratings, and that it strengthens Trump by engaging with his sensational and divisive rhetoric to boost its bottom line. 

Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz echoed Streisand's sentiments in August. "If something newsworthy happens at a Trump rally, by all means report it," the Democratic senator tweeted. "But at this point there is literally no justification for covering it like it’s continuous breaking news."

New Yorker media critic Ken Auletta also offered critical comments about the amount of attention Trump receives. "CNN has for years claimed that its brand was ‘we cover the world’, and in fact you have more reporters around the world than any other television network, certainly in the U.S.," he said. "But yet, if you watch CNN from four o’clock to eleven o’clock at night, it’s the all Trump network."

"I mean, I get more news about the Middle East on [Fox News anchor] Bret Baier at six o’clock than I do at CNN," he said. 

A study 2016 study from the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy said that the "overwhelmingly negative" coverage of Trump's campaign helped his message.

"When everything and everybody is portrayed as deeply flawed, there’s no sense making distinctions on that score, which works to the advantage of those who are more deeply flawed," the study said. "The real bias of the press is not that it’s liberal. Its bias is a decided preference for the negative."

Axios' Jim VandeHei described social media as fueling the issue. Together with content from news publishers that is tailored to meet readers' existing biases, it helps pump "endless partisan, emotional garbage into our faces all day, every day," he said. 

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