Has Donald Trump broken the media?

In this UpFront special, we discuss Donald Trump’s first year in office and the challenge of covering his presidency.

2017 has been a year of controversy and crisis, most notably for Donald Trump. From promoting US neo-Nazis to retweeting British neo-fascists and threatening a nuclear war with North Korea, there has never been a US president quite like Trump. His actions, statements and repeated attacks on the media have left many asking: how do you cover President Trump?

“When he attacks the media … one of the things he’s doing is to delegitimise any independent source of information that might criticise him, immunise himself against any of the bad stories that are coming,” says Charles Sykes, a former Conservative radio talk show host, and author of How the Right Lost its Mind.

“This is a fundamental challenge to American journalism, and I’m not sure they’ve figured out how to cope with that.” 

Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief at the Toronto Star, says: “We have many, sort of, glimmers of hope that show us that truth is not lost, that people still do care, and it’s not pointless to bring them facts.” 

“There’s a whole litany of things that Donald Trump has said he’d do, or promised to do, or said he would definitely do on his first day of office that just haven’t happened,” says Jane Coaston, Senior Politics Reporter at Vox.

“And because there’s always just this constant push of Tweet after Tweet after Tweet, it kind of gets lost in there. And so, I think that something that’s really important for the media to do is say, okay, you know, we need to be anchored in something that is not Donald Trump’s Twitter feed.”

Gwenda Blair, a long-time Trump biographer, says: “This guy’s comfort zone is chaos. And that gives him, in a way, ironically, a leg up, because almost everybody else is looking for calm, looking for some return to something approaching normal. And that leaves him the last guy standing, the strongest guy in the room. That’s the role he wants. So, he’s going to keep riling things up.” 

In this week’s UpFront special, Gwenda Blair, Daniel Dale, Jane Coaston and Charles Sykes review a year of Trump, and discuss the difficulties of holding him to account. 

Follow UpFront on Twitter @AJUpFront and Facebook.