Tuesday, September 6, 2016

NPR Politics Podcast: Covering a Single-Minded Campaign

Sarah Lorenzo

The NPR politics team kept Trump talk at the center of its two shows this week, while premiering a new "Monday Mail" segment dedicated to answering listener questions, which they related to current, Trump-tied events with ease. 

Yet, it's clear the politics podcast's Trump-laden focus is in synch with many other mainstream media this campaign. Not only is Trump a sensationalist figure whose aptitude for drama creates interest with ease, he is clearly at the center of both parties' campaigns: his efforts to dominate the news are successful, and Clinton has stepped back to let him steal the spotlight. 

Hillary Clinton's Twitter page emphasizes an anti-
Trump message. (source: twitter.com/HillaryClinton)
Sam Sanders, a member of the podcast team, was the first to note this during the Thursday show: "This is now several weeks in a row that we have had a lot to talk about with Donald Trump, and then we get to Hillary Clinton, and it's like, where have you been," he said. "Clinton's had like two public events in two weeks. What is she doing? Or not doing?" 

Since radio doesn't come with dialogue tags, it's unclear whether Scott Detro or Dominico Montanaro then argued that Clinton's strategy of seclusion is deliberate, but one of the veteran reporters notes that Clinton's strategy might not work without an affirmative message. Although Clinton has many policy platforms, the speaker says, "It's hard for her to put together a crystallized vision of what a Clinton - Hillary Clinton - future would look like for the country."

The Politics Podcast rounded out its Clinton coverage with an original dive into the roots of the Clinton campaign, exposing the Trump-averse voting logic that exists not only in the GOP but fuels some Democrats' commitment to the Clinton campaign. Campaign reporter Asma Khalid shared her insight on anti-Trump reasoning she heard from many voters during her visit to North Carolina, including speculation that Clinton might benefit from an unusual "trickle up" voter effect, where voters may be inspired to visit the polls on election day out of fear that Donald Trump might win.

Finally, the team touched on the enduring coverage of Hillary Clinton's emails, which are still being released in batches by the FBI. The email coverage is yet another sign of a campaign with a limited scope: while the Trump campaign emphasizes its anti-immigration stance and topped the news again last week with its candidate's visit to Mexico, the Clinton campaign continues to focus on Trump's toxicity while coping with email mayhem and lingering criticism about Benghazi. Although Clinton may be fighting to push past email accusations that have weighed on her campaign for months, this election season is deeply rooted in issues of the past.

Despite the limited scope of the presidential campaign, the NPR team rounded out their podcast (and added even more comprehensive coverage in their new segment, "Monday Mail") with diverse listener questions that allowed the NPR reporters to dive into campaign history, technicalities, and even add analysis of how and when the Senate might hold supreme court nomination hearings.


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