Any previous campaign in Trump’s circumstances — bad polls nationally, behind in multiple must-win states, coming after four years of low favorability ratings and steady off-year and midterm losses for the party he leads — would be facing coverage that would be the political equivalent of a hospital vigil for a very sick patient…

In Trump’s case, however, many journalists (including the two of us on this story) emerged from the 2016 race wondering if Trump is the political equivalent of Hannibal Lecter. Sure, he’s in captivity now, but an escape may be imminent — in which case he’ll be eating pundit predictions with fava beans and a nice Chianti.

“You’re not seeing as much overt coverage of desperation quite in the same way as in the past,” said Rick Berke, a former chief political reporter for the New York Times who now is top editor of the health publication STAT. “People, after four years ago, feel like they were burned and want to leave open the possibility that he could do it again. So I think reporters are second-guessing themselves and each other in how they cover this race, and they’re being extra-cautious, and it’s understandable because they’re a little bit spooked.”