It used to be that newspapers made a pretense of being fair and equitable in the coverage of candidates for the same office — except, of course, for fringe candidates.
In this age in which ratings and polls are paramount that apparently is no longer the case.
Both Donald Trump and Marco Rubio were stumping for the Republican presidential nomination in Las Vegas Thursday, but the morning paper gave the bulk of ink and display to Trump, leaving Rubio as a mere afterthought.
Trump — a television personality who bankrupted at least four businesses and has yet to articulate a clear or consistent stance on much of anything — warranted a photo and headline above the banner on the front page referring to story and photo on the cover of the B section that took up half the page, as well as being being the topic of two columns. U.S. Sen. Rubio was relegated to 2B with a smaller photo and a shorter story.
The Sun insert in morning Review-Journal carried nothing, of course, but online there is a dominant photo and headline on Trump’s appearance on the Strip along with a refer line to story on Rubio in Summerlin.
Much of the R-J news story was devoted to Trump bragging about his own popularity and snide comments about other candidates and the media. It prominently mentioned the crowd estimate of 1,600 and ending with a toss way line noting Rubio also was in town Thursday.
The only quote from the candidate in the Rubio piece was: “Never in my lifetime has the political class been more out of touch with reality than it is right now. … If we keep electing the same kind of people, nothing is going to change.” The story estimated the crowd was 500, but a Rubio email piece today places the crow at 1,200. Frankly, I doubt the community center room has that capacity.
The latest polls show Rubio in fourth place with less than 10 percent and Trump in the lead with more than 20 percent.
Though Rubio trails Trump in the polls perhaps the more telling number was the campaign contribution report that came out Thursday but was not mentioned in the paper. Rubio gathered in only $6 million, half of what Ted Cruz collected. Trump brags about self-funding.
But perhaps it is a little early to be effectively declaring the winner in print.
A 2011 New York Times series recounted what has happened to early front-runners in past elections. Here are a few examples:
Here is how the R-J displayed the Rubio story: