How Will the Media Handle the “Trump-light Zone”?

Robert Schlesinger writes that we have now entered the “Trump-light Zone.”

Attention, establishment Republicans! Attention Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, John McCain and Kelly Ayotte; attention anyone running for office this cycle (or next) with “R” next to their name anywhere but in the deepest red districts. This is your final off-ramp before the cliff. Have a nice day…

So if you’re one of the aforementioned establishment Republicans who has been trying to ride the tiger and find a balance between exhilaration and survival – trying to skate by with inane promises to vote for but not endorse the candidate or decrying him a racist and then in the next breath reaffirming your endorsement of him for president – this is your last chance…

That point of no return? There’s a sign-post up ahead: Next stop, the Trump-light Zone. This is your final exit before then.

What struck me is that we have reached an interesting point in this 2016 presidential race. Trump’s hiring of Bannon and Conway isn’t just a signal to Republicans – it sends a message to all of us who have been watching this one closely. We’re not going to see anything new from Donald Trump. What we’ve been seeing is what we’ll continue to get.

The people who will be most impacted by that are the media. After all, there are only so many stories you can write about:

* Trump said something dumb/inflamatory
* a Trump spokesperson said something dumb/inflamatory
* another Republican defected from the fold
* here’s a new poll showing Clinton beating Trump…badly

OK, so you can continue to write about those things. But pretty soon people will get bored with it all and they won’t produce the eyeballs and clicks that you need.

It is impossible to predict what comes next. One thing that could shake things up would be a big national/global event outside the campaigns. But other than exaggerating a non-crisis into a crisis (which the media is certainly capable of doing), that’s not something that can be manufactured. The other possibility is that we’ll see something along the lines of what Jon Favreau predicted last week.

…the media will eventually grow tired of the “Trump’s finished” story line and move on to the much more clickable “Trump’s comeback” narrative. Any day now, some Quinnipiac poll that shows a tied race in Pennsylvania will force Democrats to lose control of their bladders. A Trump surge in a stray tracking poll will result in a CNN Breaking News Countdown Clock that will tick down the seconds to an emergency panel of 37 pundits. The sheer hysteria of the “How Could She Blow This?” pieces will dwarf the collective freak-out that followed President Obama’s first debate loss in 2012. It won’t be pretty.

Our 24/7 news media can’t handle a vacuum – especially not after the “rush” of months of Trumpmania. So it’s time for all of us to prepare ourselves…we’re about the enter the Trump-light Zone.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.