It is a truth universally acknowledged—well, acknowledged by everyone but the man himself—that Donald Trump is obsessed with the news media and its coverage of him.
Among US presidents, only Richard Nixon has hated the media more, or been more preoccupied with it. This is perhaps telling, given the mounting likelihood that Trump will follow in the disgraced former president’s footsteps, and is certainly not inconvenient, given the subject of this review.
But it’s also true that the media is obsessed with Trump. It’s obsessed for cynical reasons, such as ratings and subscription numbers, which Trump has predicted will lead to a sudden self-serving shift in tone as the next presidential election approaches. But it’s also obsessed for the simple, unavoidable fact that the man is a news-making machine. A study by Harvard’s Shorenstein Centre, which looked at media coverage of Trump’s first hundred days in office, found that he was “the topic of 41 per cent of all news stories—three times the amount of coverage received by previous presidents.” In December, the ABC interactive digital storytelling team tracked mentions of Trump in US cable news screen tickers over a nineteen-day period, and found that he was the topic of discussion more than 50 per cent of the time. He was tweeted about 901.8 million times last year, inspiring nearly ten times as many tweets as Barack Obama in his final year in office.