The Media Is (Mostly) Moving On to Trump-Biden


“The vibe now is very much that the general election starts today,” one political reporter instructed me Wednesday morning. Of course that’s not what Nikki Haley, recent off dropping to Donald Trump within the New Hampshire major, was telling supporters the evening earlier than. “This race is far from over,” she stated, vowing to combat on to South Carolina, her dwelling state and the location of a February 24 contest. “It’s over for Haley, although we’ll keep covering her,” stated the reporter. “It feels like we’re treating it as a much more competitive election than it is because we’re staffed to cover a competitive primary.”

News organizations are accustomed to overlaying at the very least one heated major race each 4 years, if not two when there isn’t an incumbent working for reelection. But this time round, Iowa was all however over earlier than it began, and New Hampshire was known as as quickly because the polls closed. I caught up this week with a number of political journalists and information executives as they contemplate the subsequent section of an unorthodox election season by which a lot of the general public seems to be tuning out politics, Super Tuesday in March is unlikely to be an element, and the presumptive Republican and Democratic nominees could by no means hit the controversy stage.

“We have time to play this out before committing the next set of resources, be it South Carolina or Super Tuesday,” one longtime community govt instructed me. “But I do think that everybody is starting to look toward the general, and you throw in the financial pressures that every corporate-owned media outlet has, and there’s almost going to be relief from the bean counters that Trump is doing so well—to be totally cynical about this.”

Despite Haley’s upbeat tone on Tuesday evening, she might all the time rapidly go the best way of Ron DeSantis. “We got our ticket punched out of Iowa,” DeSantis declared after ending a distant second within the caucuses, solely to drop out six days later and endorse Trump. “Logic tells you it’s probably over, but as a reporter, you don’t predetermine the outcome,” a second political reporter instructed me on their means dwelling from the Granite State. “She came within 10 points. She’s going to her home state. It’s a good story,” they stated, acknowledging that whereas it “still seems like a fait accompli that it’s gonna be Trump,” the “story will be: Can [Haley] consolidate all the anti-Trump elements? If she can, is it enough to make it actually competitive? I don’t think we can determinatively say one way or another yet.”

A 3rd political reporter stated they “honestly thought [Trump] would win by more” in New Hampshire, and that whereas it looks as if he’ll be the nominee, reporters know higher than to make the identical errors they did in 2016. “You can be realistic and see what’s happening in front of you while also being open to the assurances that there will be two or three major surprises along the way,” they stated. There’s additionally “capacity for surprises that aren’t even connected to voting,” a second longtime community govt famous, “especially when you have two old candidates” in addition to a number of main authorized instances towards the previous president.

“We have devoted a lot of resources to the legal front and we’re going to continue to do so,” the primary community govt stated. “The trials may replace the primaries: We may not have Super Tuesday, but we do have Jack Smith.

Republican Presidential candidate Nikki Haley speaks to journalists at Mary Anne’s Diner in Amherst, New Hampshire on Friday January 19, 2024.By Melina Mara/The Washington Post/Getty Images.

Even whereas not prematurely declaring Trump the winner, information organizations clearly have a watch towards November. “The general election has begun,” learn one Washington Post headline on Wednesday. “After Trump’s NH win, Biden gets the opponent he wants,” Politico declared. It’s not as if the media hasn’t been pointing to a probable Trump-Biden rematch for months. Trump remained the dominant front-runner as he sat out a sequence of seemingly pointless debates that, with out him, felt like overlaying “the junior varsity,” as one political reporter put it to me again in August. Yet Haley’s efficiency prompted donations and momentum, giving reporters one thing to chew on, till Iowa the place she got here in third, after which to take a position about in New Hampshire, the place she once more fell brief.

“Nikki Haley’s chances are diminishing and that’s a reality. And so we will adjust accordingly, but we’re not giving up on the story,” a 3rd community govt instructed me. “In fact, we’re trying to find new ways to tell the story of Nikki Haley, while still looking forward to Donald Trump as a general election candidate, and Joe Biden, and what that looks like together. We’re pushing on multiple tracks because you have to.” Their community, they famous, is “adding more resources internally to telling various parts of the 2024 story now that it’s shifting into the general election.”

This unconventional major season comes as many shops are reducing again or reassessing their technique or each. NBC News laid off dozens of staffers earlier this month. New CNN CEO Mark Thompson simply outlined his plan for bringing the community into the twenty first century. The Washington Post just lately purchased out 240 staff throughout departments amid monetary struggles. Earlier this week, The Los Angeles Times laid off at the very least 115 journalists—greater than 20% of its newsroom—and “decimated” the paper’s Washington bureau within the course of.

Some information retailers started planning for a brief race months in the past: This fall, Politico turned down a number of alternatives to companion with networks on numerous debates scheduled for early 2024, in accordance with a supply conversant in the matter. And as Semafor’s Max Tani reported, “CBS News planned to host a debate in February in Las Vegas, but decided in the fall to pull the plug before they had to commit to expensive logistics, fearing—accurately—the current reality on the ground.” Earlier this month, ABC News and CNN have been each compelled to cancel debates in New Hampshire after Haley stated she wouldn’t take part with out Trump. ABC reportedly misplaced thousands and thousands of {dollars} consequently, whereas CNN opted as a substitute to carry a city corridor—a relatively simpler format—with Haley on the actual date and time the ABC debate was imagined to happen.


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