The Amazing Disappearing Election

By Ethan Zuckerman

Over the past six months, it has seemed like every news story is about the coronavirus, or President Donald Trump’s failed response to it. It’s been a challenge for even crucial issues like racial justice and police violence to break into the media agenda for more than a few days at a time.

Although the events of 2020 present unique challenges to the media—and to humanity as a whole—the narrowing of the media agenda, a phenomenon I call “agenda compression,” dates back to the 2016 election. Former CBS President Les Moonves famously observed of Trump’s candidacy: "It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS.” News networks rode the twists and turns of Trump’s candidacy to record ratings and ad sales, and the spotlight has not turned away from Trump for a second since he won the presidency.

Related Content