My shared shame: The media helped make Trump

“We all know it’s about ratings, and Trump delivers,” Sabato says. “You can’t take your eyes off him. When Trump is on, I stop what I’m doing and wait for the car crash.”

Sabato is particularly critical of Sunday morning news program hosts who have allowed Trump to “appear” by telephone, instead of in person.

Although many of us journalists have derided Trump, the truth is that he generally outsmarted us (with many exceptions, for there truly have been serious efforts to pin him down and to investigate Trump University and his various business failings). He manipulated television by offering outrageous statements that drew ever more cameras — without facing enough skeptical follow-up questions.

It’s not that we shouldn’t have covered Trump’s craziness, but that we should have aggressively provided context in the form of fact checks and robust examination of policy proposals. A candidate claiming that his business acumen will enable him to manage America deserved much more scrutiny of his bankruptcies and mediocre investing.