Trump thought he could win through sheer media dominance. In reality, it’s killing him.

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[Commentary] One of the most cherished assumptions about this race, one explicitly voiced by Donald Trump and even entertained by some neutral observers: Trump can win through sheer media dominance alone.

In a recent episode, Trump gained enormous amounts of media attention by publicly hallucinating about video of the cash transfer to Iran. But did he really gain anything from all that attention, other than widespread ridicule, at a time when his poll numbers are tanking? Press coverage tends to get harsher when a candidate gets weaker, and that’s what this episode brought. Trump himself has repeatedly said, in various ways, that his strategy is premised on sucking up all the media oxygen.

After Melania Trump’s convention speech was revealed as plagiarism, Trump said that all the publicity devoted to the speech was a positive, because “all press is good press.” Before that, Trump flatly stated that he had an advantage in the general election because “I have the loudspeaker.” But it’s becoming increasingly obvious that “the loudspeaker” is turning voters against Trump, perhaps to a point from which there will be no coming back. Trump’s ongoing battle with the Khan family drew enormous media scrutiny, but, given that it brought with it widespread media coverage of Republicans and military figures criticizing his conduct, all this attention has been simply awful for him. Indeed, the Clinton team is now explicitly premising its strategy on the idea that all the coverage has grown so lethal that its best play is to get out of the way and let it continue.

The idea that Trump’s media ubiquity is largely a positive for him is merely a subset of larger myths about this race — that everything he does is shrewdly calculated and a reflection of his ingenious media manipulation, or even worse, that he possesses some species of Magical Trumpian Political Powers that allow him to defy the conventional rules of politics. Trump could still win, of course. But as of now, all of this has been thoroughly discredited.

Trump thought he could win through sheer media dominance. In reality, it’s killing him.