In the run-up to the 2016 election, throughout the election cycle itself, and now a little over 60 days into the new administration – the media has been a lot about Trump, a lot of the time.
The heavy presidential and political coverage is not unwarranted. This past week alone, Trump’s unsubstantiated wiretapping claims, FBI Director James Comey’s public hearing on current investigations into campaign collusion with Russia and the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch have kept the news cycle plenty full. Policy-centric topics, like the Republican healthcare bill and Trump’s proposed budget plan, have also been getting extremely heavy coverage.
As the news cycle fills with domestic news, it’s easy for international stories and stories outside of Washington to fall by the wayside. Notable and ongoing international stories — like the Syrian Civil War, the hostile dynamics in Turkey and the Philippines and important elections within the European Union — have not gotten the same wall-to-wall coverage that the President gets.
Even following an attack outside London’s Parliament that killed four on March 22, the news continued to focus on President Trump.
Some mainstream news outlets didn’t have the attack as their main story, leaving the headline on the side even while updates about the attack were coming in late Wednesday night.
Not much follow-up coverage came in the days after the attack. For the rest of the week, Trump and domestic politics continued to dominate the headlines, especially over the weekend when the Republican replacement for Obamacare was pulled before even reaching the House floor for a vote.
Dr. Lee Huebner, professor at the School of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University and former CEO of The International Herald Tribune (now, The International New York Times), said that this phenomenon is not unique to the Trump administration.
“The coverage is understandable and warranted, but important international coverage has long been slighted by the US media,” Huebner said. “This is a familiar pattern.”
As Trump continues to dominate the news, some like GWU professor Dr. Robert Entman have said that domestic politics still need to be the focus – just on different and more pertinent areas.
“While Trump continues producing distracting controversies, Congress and executive agencies are implementing policies that are often at odds with what polls suggest the American people want government to do,” Entman said. “If media focused more on what government is actually doing rather than what the president is saying, the country would be better off.”
Trump has certainly brought a spotlight to Washington that no other modern president has, but not the policy-based and constructive type of attention. Recently, celebrity gossip and lifestyle magazines turn the first family into reality stars as the Trumps are followed by paparazzi and adorn the covers of tabloid magazines. Even the notorious Los Angeles paparazzo have been migrating to the Beltway to cover the First Family.
Across the globe, things are happening that are completely unrelated to Trump and U.S. government. Over the weekend, as the Republican healthcare bill was pulled, hundreds were arrested after a protest in Belarus, the Islamic State claimed an attack in Bangladesh and a mudslide destroyed a village in Peru.
Even the international and world sections of some news media outlets are still dominated by stories related to Trump or the American government.
The most recent international issue that caught American media attention was the Syrian Civil War and the fight against the Islamic State. Just several months ago, the country was bubbling with talk about Syria, as various stories went viral – including the video of the young boy covered in rubble in Aleppo.
Syria is rarely on the front pages, even as the war rages on today. In fact, the war is getting even more complicated as the U.S. is expected to soon provide arms to Arab and Kurdish forces in Syria to fight the final battle for Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State.
As the world keeps turning, American media continues to focus on Trump.