Richard Connor: Trump’s media bashing could backfire

Hating is becoming the trademark of many of Donald Trump’s supporters.

That’s why they applauded his boycott of the Jan. 28 debate on Fox News. The Republican front-runner bolted because the network would not buckle to his demand that Megyn Kelly be removed from the panel of three questioners.

Trump and Kelly have been at odds since an earlier Fox debate when Trump thought she was picking on him. He criticized her in a number of ways that some saw as sexist, if not flat-out misogynistic.

Trump’s antics add great entertainment value to the GOP presidential race but they expose a central focus of his appeal to voters. Trump’s backers hate the media, hate it perhaps even more than they hate the federal government.

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The publisher of a major U.S. newspaper was asked how he describes his job and our business at a time when practically everyone thinks the press is teetering on the brink of extinction.

“I protect democracy,” he replied.

It’s a somewhat tongue-in-cheek answer but there is more truth to the statement than falsehood.

A free press is a cornerstone of our democracy – the Fourth Estate, if you will.

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Some in our business practice journalism fairly, or make every attempt to, while others do not. It’s the way it goes.

Eventually, amid all the questions about fairness, the truth usually seems to emerge, if only through trial and error. Our system is self-purging.

Avoiding the media is a bad signal for a would-be president to send to voters. The current president has not been transparent or particularly forthcoming with the press. In terms of open government, Barack Obama is one of the worst presidents in recent history. When it comes to transparency, he’s been a big disappointment to his party and to many of his supporters.

It borders on the insane to imagine that a President Trump would pick and choose which reporters and news organizations are allowed to ask him questions. Would he also pick and choose which U.S. citizens have a right to know what their government is doing?

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Those who love to hate the media might like that approach – until they realize that it undermines one of this nation’s great institutions and denies them vital information that citizens need to hold their government accountable in a free society.

Trump loyalists might cheer his decision to boycott the Fox debate, and skipping the debate might even boost his standing in some polls. Poking the media in its collective eye can be good politics, at least in the short run.

But ducking debates and shutting out reporters who ask tough questions could eventually be Trump’s undoing. Politicians unwilling to face the public and the press undermine democracy – and most voters are smart enough to know it.

Richard Connor is chairman of the parent company of Fort Worth Business, DRC Media. Contact him at