Lack of substance: Media liberals say 'Trump Porn' is hurting them too

In the hyperpartisan media climate surrounding President Trump, I’ve detected a rare spot of agreement.

It’s certainly not in the way the president is being covered. In a new Axios/Survey Monkey poll, 87 percent of Republicans say the media are too critical of Trump, compared to 13 percent of Democrats. Forty percent of Dems—but just 4 percent of GOP respondents—say the media aren’t critical enough.

But if journalists are “obsessed” with the president, as Reince Priebus told me in a “Media Buzz” interview—”Trump is money for the media,” he said—there is a fallout that affects both the right and the left.

Kellyanne Conway and other White House officials have repeatedly told me in interviews that the media focus on Russia, Stormy, Twitter feuds and the like have drained attention from the serious issues facing the country.

In this view, the news business gives short shrift to taxes, immigration, health care and other matters important to everyday Americans because it’s easier to get clicks for scandal and sensationalism.

Leaving aside the question of whether Trump in part fuels these distractions—were we supposed to ignore Rudy Giuliani’s media blitz?—similar complaints are now being heard on the left. They make the parallel argument that their causes are being overshadowed by the “all Trump all the time” culture.

Liberal New York Times columnist Nick Kristof says the media are “collectively addicted” to Trump and “locked in a symbiotic relationship” because “he is part of our business model in 2018,” with the result that “other issues don’t get adequate attention …

“The nonstop scandals and outrages suck us in; they amount to Trump porn,” he writes. And while the president is “enormously important … there’s so much else happening as well. Some 65,000 Americans will die this year of drug overdoses, American life expectancy has fallen for two years in a row, guns claim a life every 15 minutes and the number of uninsured is rising again even as a child in the U.S. is 70 percent more likely to die before adulthood than one in other advanced nations. Those issues are rather more important than the question of whether Stormy Daniels slept with Trump.”

Kristof, who also mentions suffering in Myanmar and Syria, makes this confession:

“Progressive snobs like me bemoan Trump’s inattention to these global issues, but the truth is that we don’t pay attention, either. At cocktail parties, on cable television, at the dinner table, at the water cooler, all we talk about these days is Trump. So we complain about Trump being insular and parochial — but we’ve become insular and parochial as well. We’ve caught the contagion that we mock.”

Good for Kristof for looking beyond his self-described snobbery and accepting some of the blame.

Obviously, this president—any president—plays an important role in every foreign and domestic issue. But so much of today’s coverage is driven by palace intrigue and soap-opera plots. So Kristof is agreeing with many conservatives and White House aides who say the level of reporting and commentary in the Trump era is pretty bad, and the fault lies not in our stars but in ourselves.