Donald Trump’s love-hate relationship with the media is starting to look more like hate-hate.
The Republican presidential candidate unloaded Sunday on the rising tide of articles insisting that his campaign is imploding by accusing the “corrupt” media of showing bias in favor of Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“I am not only fighting Crooked Hillary; I am fighting the dishonest and corrupt media and her government protection process. People get it!” Mr. Trump said Sunday on Twitter.
During the crowded Republican primary race, Mr. Trump clearly benefited from heavy media coverage as television outlets focused on his ratings-grabbing campaign, exemplified by CBS CEO Les Moonves’ remark in February: “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.”
But since Mrs. Clinton’s jump in the polls after the Democratic National Convention last month, Mr. Trump has upped his attacks on the press, announcing that he is now running against the “crooked media” in addition to “crooked Hillary.” Whether it will prove a profitable strategy in a general election remains to be seen.
“[Y]ou have seen over the past couple of weeks, as Trump has been struggling, that he’s increasingly blamed the media,” Associated Press reporter Jill Colvin said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.” “In his speeches now, he dedicates long portions of his remarks to going after the media.”
Trump spokesman Jason Miller accused The New York Times and The Washington Post of writing “hit pieces,” while “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter defended the coverage.
“You call them ‘hit pieces’; I call them reporting,” said Mr. Stelter, a former New York Times reporter. “There’s a lot to write about the Donald Trump campaign. And you’re making it sound like there’s an equivalent amount to write about the Clinton campaign.”
While some analysts insist that there is a greater trove of material when it comes to Mr. Trump, who can be his own worst enemy with his off-the-cuff comments, others say the historically left-leaning press is simply more attuned to Trump gaffes. Mrs. Clinton’s email and Clinton Foundation woes, by contrast, have generated far fewer headlines and cable analyses.
Republican strategist Lisa Boothe said Sunday that the press “should be adept enough to cover [Mr. Trump], while simultaneously cover the stuff Hillary Clinton has.”
Last week, for example, Mr. Trump was hit with scathing coverage after saying Mrs. Clinton “co-founded” the Islamic State and that Second Amendment voters may be able to do something about Mrs. Clinton’s choice of judges as president, which Democrats blasted as a veiled assassination threat.
But Mrs. Clinton’s week was also eventful. On Wednesday, Judicial Watch released nearly 300 pages of State Department emails raising questions about whether she gave government access to top Clinton Foundation donors, while social media erupted after a video showed the Orlando nightclub terrorist’s father positioned behind Mrs. Clinton at a Florida campaign event.
“But there’s not an equal amount of fact-checking, there’s not an equal amount of criticism that’s being applied to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton,” Ms. Boothe said on Fox’s “MediaBuzz.”
She pointed to a Media Research Center report last week saying that television networks gave twice the coverage to the man who tried to climb the Trump Tower than they did to the latest Clinton emails.
Mr. Trump’s chief target Sunday was an article in The New York Times saying that “Mr. Trump’s advisers believe he is nearly out of time to right his campaign,” citing unidentified “associates” and “more than 20 Republicans who are close to Mr. Trump.”
“The failing @nytimes talks about anonymous sources and meetings that never happened,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter. “Their reporting is fiction. The media protects Hillary!”
The latest Time magazine cover story had an illustration of Mr. Trump with the headline “Meltdown,” while Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week” referred Sunday to the Republican presidential campaign’s “full summer slide.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, took umbrage with the coverage, accusing media outlets of blowing negative Trump stories out of proportion.
“You’ve had this whole morning talking about nothing but negative on the Trump campaign, so this is the kind of thing that does build on itself, and has I think made mountains out of molehills,” Mr. Sessions said on “This Week.”
Mr. Trump has drawn criticism by denying press credentials for several liberal-leaning publications, including The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Politico, Univision and BuzzFeed, according to CNN.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton has gone 253 days without holding a traditional press conference, despite referring to herself in March as the “most transparent public official in modern times.”
“Even in making statements like that — because of the gift that keeps on giving that is Donald Trump’s candidacy and the distraction he presents to the press on a daily basis — she’ll get a free pass despite the unintentional comedy of it all,” said The Hill’s media writer Joe Concha.