The Media Must Be Held Responsible for the Rise of Trump

In many ways, Trump's rise is like that child raised by permissive parents--anything and everything that he wants, he'll get, and when he doesn't, he throws a temper tantrum so annoying and immature that we give in anyway just to shut him up. There couldn't be a clearer example of this than Trump's pathetic tweet to Ted Cruz, threatening to expose the dirt on his wife. Many thought it was in response to an ad featuring Melanie Trump, but it's more than that: Trump's ego was hurt by his loss in Utah. I mean, come on, the guy stated: "I've said that perhaps if Ivanka weren't my daughter, I'd be dating her," so Melanie in a provocative pose isn't going to hurt his feelings too much.

Let's be honest, there is no "too far" for Trump. The man can say and do whatever he wants and get away with it. Incite violence, call Mexicans rapists, tell everyone his daughter has the best body, offer to pay legal fees for his violent supporters (and the list goes on and on), and there are no consequences for him. In fact, each time he does some stunt like this, his poll numbers rise.

Now, everyone from the Obama administration to George W. Bush, Senator Marco Rubio, former House Speaker John A. Boehner, and the entire GOP have been cited as the person or entity responsible for Trump's rise. However, that's only part of the story; it is only one of Donald's parents, so to speak. The second? The media.

When Donald Trump first announced his presidential run, the media hopped on it because it was opportunity to poke fun at the absurdity of the situation. Donald's face was everywhere. In time, this has evolved into a deadly but mutually beneficial relationship. As Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times eloquently put it:

"There is always a mutually beneficial relationship between candidates and news organizations during presidential years. But in my lifetime it's never seemed so singularly focused on a single candidacy. And the financial stakes have never been so intertwined with the journalistic and political stakes."

Examples of this are abound. Fox News had its highest debate ratings ever several weeks ago and in no small part to good ol' Donald. And when Donald didn't participate, Fox News ratings plummeted NBC managed to get an interview with Trump, and as the Huffington Post reported, MSNBC played the interview on loop 51 times, resulting in the highest ratings in over a year. And normally staunchly liberal comedy show, Saturday Night Live nabbed its highest ratings in years when they had Donald Trump host the show last year.

Trump is undoubtedly correct when he says that he is a ratings machine.

But it's not just the media's sick gorging of Trump that's the problem; it's their blatant hypocrisy that inevitably follows. Fox News, for instance, uses Trump for their ratings and then turns around and says how absurd we are for giving this man so much attention, or worse, spends hours after the debates dedicated to Trump's childish and illogical comments and responses instead of focusing on the important issues the American people care about.

Saturday Night Live is no different and in many ways is a sadder example. Knowing that Donald called Mexicans rapists, knowing about his blatant sexist comments, they had him host anyways (this was before inciting all the violence at rallies and the banning of Muslims). As I watched I wondered how Horatio Sanz felt seeing the show he dedicated many comedic years to turn around and use Trump for ratings. I wondered how the female cast members felt having to interact with him knowing the comments he had made. Nothing was funny about that episode, and Trump was never challenged on his beliefs or statements that he had made while hosting. The only satire of Trump has come in the following episodes, after they had achieved the ratings they needed--cowardly satire is worse than no satire at all.

And that wasn't the only time a liberal show used Trump for ratings. Take the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where the night prior to Trump's appearance he hammered Ted Cruz on Reagan's policies and gay marriage. However, Trump's appearance on the show was underwhelming for fans and critics who wanted to see Colbert take it to Trump. Unfortunately, he either didn't want to or couldn't go toe-to-toe with Trump, often settling for softball questions instead of the hard-hitting ones we've grown accustomed to. It was only after did we see Stephen do an amazing bit of Trump versus Trump in a fictional debate moderated by Stephen himself that highlighted the often conflicting and hypocritical statements that fly out of Trump's mouth.

Hypocrisy is all around, it seems, when it comes to Trump and the media. On one hand it blames the GOP or Obama for the rise of Trump while on the other it fails to take responsibility for its own involvement. If the GOP or Obama administration is the father, then the media is surely the mother of Trump's rise, as it continuously reinforces, through cowardly behavior, Trump's ideology as a leader, a man anti-establishment, and a man who tells it like it is, by repeatedly interviewing him and then berating him when he leaves the room. Both parents must take responsibility. No more hiding.

In the end, there is only one sure way to correct a child raised by permissive parents--show him that he can't always get what he wants. And the next time he throws a temper tantrum, we should do what all children with egos hate--to be ignored. But perhaps it is too late for that now. Who knows? It's worth a shot.

Matthew Moffitt is a novelist, freelance writer, and social justice advocate. You can see much of his work here on the Huffington Post or the comedy website Cracked.com. His first novel, MOON TO JOSHUA, comes out soon for EDGE science fiction and fantasy. Follow him on twitter @miso_matthew for more details.