How Trump brought the political media class to its knees

Patterson calls this the “game schema”—the long-standing tendency of the press to cover everything through the prism of conflict or palace intrigue. In the minds of journalists, there are no good actors in politics or government, only craven decisions motivated by greed or self-interest. It’s no surprise then, that the press becomes the boy who cried wolf when things actually go off the rails. “When every question is a potential trap and every response is ripped apart, the voters become inured to the press’s admonitions,” Patterson warned in his still-relevant book Out Of Order. “And when the media do make an allegation worthy of the public’s concern, people only half listen and half believe.”…

The posture of the political journalist has devolved from skepticism into outright cynicism at almost every turn, no matter which party is being scrutinized. This battlefield only helps Trump, because it turns everyone off to the process. And when the public loses interest, people in power have a field day. Journalists are left to do the hard work of holding elected officials accountability, and many of them they are doing their best. It would just be nice if we were talking about what happened last week, last month, last winter—and not just what happened in our mentions a few minutes ago when some other reporter tweeted “WOW!” with a finger emoji pointing to Trump’s latest distraction.