Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has been no stranger to controversy since the start of his campaign.
The businessman turned reality star has made numerous headlines in recent weeks for his disparaging remarks about immigrants, Democrats and GOP leaders. Trump’s outrageous statements have provoked the ire of many, and yet, he continues to rise in the polls.
As news editors across the country look for new ways to keep people engaged in the election, media watchers question whether Trump deserves such a wide platform to share his contentious views.
Kelly McBride is a media ethicist with Poynter, and she tells Take Two, while Trump’s antics make for good headlines, many journalists fail to give his comments proper context.
“There’s an entertainment factor to it that’s not very helpful to the coverage. That said, I don’t think that a good option is to ignore him either, because some of the stuff he’s saying is downright dangerous.”
She points to Trump’s recent comments about undocumented Mexican immigrants.
“That plays to a dark part of our history and population in the country. And we know as journalists that, when we ignore those kinds of statements, we ignore deep dark problems with ourselves in America.”
McBride says journalists have a duty to call out candidates like Trump.
“When people make false statements that pander to fear and hatred, it is part of our role in democracy to demonstrate that those statements are false and put them into appropriate context.”
She says, while many people still think of Trump as a reality TV star, his comments must be taken seriously. McBride contends covering Trump like a celebrity allows him to make controversial and even incorrect statements that often go unchallenged.
“He’s not just a celebrity. He is also a legitimate candidate for the presidency at this point. So, to marginalize what he says as merely entertainment, makes it too trivial.”
Press the play button above to hear more from Poynter’s media ethicist.