Following disastrous defeats in the primary, the two largest remaining GOP challenges to a Donald Trump presidential nomination — that of Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich — both announced last week they had dropped out of the race.
The result? Something that several Republicans have been “dreading” for some time: a Trump candidacy.
So now that the dust is settling after it became apparent that Trump will likely take the GOP nomination, and amid warnings to the media from President Obama not to cover the upcoming campaign as they would a reality show, what was the response of US print media?
MediaMiser performed a media analysis of more than 100 of the top US print dailies for content on May 5 to gauge reaction on Trump’s presumptive nomination, and what we found was not good. And in fact, many articles that day pointed to what seems to be a depressed and divided Republican Party.
In fact, seven per cent of daily content that day referenced the “stages of grief” (mentioned in 7% of sources) that some Republicans are apparently experiencing.
The vast majority (80%) of content focused on what the concessions of Cruz and Kasich meant for the Republican Party, and potential next moves of Trump opponents within the party. Ten per cent of stories used the word “reluctance” to describe this dilemma, while “disaster” was also used often (20%). In some neutral coverage, “caution” came up several times (10%).
The stark mood among some Republicans was articulated by Fergus Cullen, former New Hampshire Republican Party chairman, who during a phone interview with the Concord Monitor explained that his poor cell reception was “the howling wind as I stand on my roof and look 40 feet down, wondering should I jump or not.”
Many major US state dailies focused on their own Republican representatives and whether they would back Trump. Several Republicans said that while they would not openly support Trump, they would still be “voting against” presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (20%).
Several dailies (15%) focused on the deafening silence from current Republican U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who did not comment following the results. Former Republican Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn summed it up when asked about his endorsement, simply commenting that “I’ll just be quiet.”
However, there was also positive coverage for Trump and his eventual nomination, as some dailies (10%) re-iterated the point that Ted Cruz was a significantly worse choice than Trump, with five per cent of them referencing former Republican Speaker of the House’s John Boehner’s comments that Cruz was “Lucifer”.
North Carolina’s Courier-Tribune quoted New York Congressman Peter King saying that the comparison “was unfair to Lucifer.”
So now that Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee, the media’s focus will turn to the still-simmering battle for the Democratic nomination, along with the upcoming Republican National Convention this summer (when, according to some reports, the question on everyone’s mind being after so much controversy and division will be “how will they save face?”).