Donald Trump is a media organization

[Commentary] While Donald Trump might represent an alien being to political reporters, his modus operandi is unsettlingly familiar to those who have covered corporate media. Trump’s behavior is not that of a “normal” president, or even a regular politician per se, but of a loud, competitive, digitally attuned, populist media organization.

For Trump, the medium is not just the message, it is the office, too. His chief of strategy Steve Bannon was most recently editor in chief at Breitbart, and will essentially be editor in chief to Trump as president. Jared Kushner, the son-in-law with Trump’s ear, owned The New York Observer. Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire who put Gawker out of business by backing the multimillion-dollar lawsuit brought by Hulk Hogan, is also in the trusted inner circle of supporters. Rupert Murdoch apparently talks to Trump two or three times a week—an extraordinary level of access to an incoming president by a media owner, if true. To cover him, and his presidency, we need to understand the platform on which he stands as not just a vector but a political ideology.

[Emily Bell is Director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School.]


Donald Trump is a media organization