There he was on each of the cable news networks: Donald Trump, once again the most fascinating man in the world. If you turned on CNN or MSNBC or Fox News on Monday afternoon, you could watch Trump as he flew from Florida to New York in his Trump-branded jet, and then as he rode in his motorcade to Trump Tower.
Fox News Channel’s live coverage carried the banner TRUMP LEAVING MAR-A-LAGO, HEADING FOR NYC. MSNBC’s said NOW: TRUMP HEADS TO PALM BEACH INTL. AIRPORT FOR FLIGHT. Later, on CNN, the banner read TRUMP IN NY; MOTORCADE EN ROUTE TO TRUMP TOWER before changing to SOON: TRUMP TO ARRIVE AT TRUMP TOWER AHEAD OF TOMORROW’S ARREST.
The history, of course, happened last week with the indictment of a former president. And it will happen Tuesday, when Trump is booked and arraigned. But today, the simple and unsurprising movement of a man from one place to another become an event in and of itself, with Trump’s SUV driving along the streets of West Palm Beach, and then his jet taking off, and then landing, and then another SUV making its way up the FDR Drive, a 21st Century version of O.J. Simpson’s ride in a white Ford Bronco. The similarities were enough that “O.J. Simpson” was trending on Twitter throughout the afternoon:
Mary Trump, the former president’s niece and fierce critic, panned the breathless coverage, saying “seriously, CNN? Do you need to show us Donald’s plane taking off? The media should have learned its lesson after its failed coverage of the 2016 election when empty podiums and planes idling on the tarmac were deemed newsworthy. Yet, here we are again and the media is making the same mistakes all over.”
Just before 3:30 ET, Fox News rolled its FOX NEWS
Capturing the bizarre intersection of the media’s fascination with Trump and Trump’s fascination with himself was the former president’s son Eric, who shared an image of the big screen TV on the Trump jet tuned to Fox News, on which was a live shot of—Trump’s jet.
Former Republican National Chairman Michael Steele—an MSNBC political analyst—noted that the minute-by-minute coverage of Trump’s trip up the East Coast came as the “actual POTUS” was traveling:
On CNN, Jake Tapper reacted to the criticism, saying “I know that media critics are taking issue with the way that a lot of news networks are covering this,” arguing that “this is unprecedented.” But obviously nothing that viewers were watching was “unprecedented” at all. Watching a jet land at LaGuardia—even a jet carrying a character as outsized as Donald Trump—is nothing new. What happens tomorrow—now that will indeed be newsworthy, but this?