Donald Trump: Political Figure or Pop Icon?

Jul 21, 2015

From Texas Standard

Some say the crowded contest for the 2016 GOP presidential nod is more spectacle than substance. While there are plenty of candidates to cover, the lion’s share of the spotlight has fallen on someone who’s never even held elected office: Donald Trump.

Huffington Post editors say that Trump's run is more entertainment than politics, so they recently announced that there will be no more Trump in the politics section. Instead, they say, news about Trump and his campaign will go straight to the entertainment section.

Ryan Grimm, Washington bureau chief for the Huffington Post, says the online publication has always been a mix of high- and low-brow news. 

As Trump’s campaign has gained traction, a decision had to be made about where to put the coverage. Though staff decided that Trump's candidacy doesn't merit political coverage, they knew it called for coverage of some nature.

“He is a pop-culture phenomenon, without question, and not something that we would ignore,” Grimm says.

So the publication will be moving its Trump coverage to its entertainment section, where “it more appropriately belongs.”

The Huffington Post‘s goal is to transparently separate coverage of those they deem serious candidates from their less-serious counterparts. Typically, Grimm says, media outlets would make these judgments, but subtly and without comment.

“They send signals about who’s serious and who’s not serious,” he says.

Even though most in the media do not consider Trump a dependable candidate, Grimm says they are a bit baffled at how to handle the coverage.

When Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders entered the race, many did not consider him to be a serious contender either. But while Sanders' campaign coverage has been political, the Trump candidacy has been handled more like entertainment because that's how the media has always covered him. Whereas Sanders has been a politician, Trump has been an entertainer. So the Huffington Post is “treating him the same way that he’s always been treated.”

“He’s a one-of-a-kind person,” Grimm says. “So this is a one-of-a-kind policy.”