The media wants a close race
These days are often compared to the end of Nixon but the big difference was the media used to be fair and balanced and Republicans did put country before party. Today the media, as you so well point out, is all about the ratings and because of that we might have to endure another four years of this madness. The polls look good for Biden but the scary thing is that the Republicans will use dirty tricks and voter suppression to cheat their way to keeping power. Will the media report these stories and take back their role as referee of our democracy or ignore it because the ratings might be better? Unfortunately we know the answer.
This is where the right wing is so much smarter than the left.
First, they work the refs. By making the accusations, they get more favorable coverage. You know it, I know it, and the average three-year-old in Masillon, Ohio, knows it.
Second, they do it because it works. It worked when Nixon sicced his goons on the press, and then the press got cold feet on Iran-Contra because they didn't want to be seen as taking down only republican presidents when, of course, any president who did that would deserve to be taken down (perhaps they forgot their role, which should be heralded, in reporting on Vietnam and how it pretty well destroyed LBJ).
Third, set aside the partisanship. The argument goes to something that sports announcers say about their broadcasts. If they're local, it's best for their team to win, but to face a challenge. If they're national, it's better for the race to go down to the wire. Same principle applies here. What sells? A closer race.
"Covering the 2020 campaign, the press should make sure they don't put their thumb on the scale for Trump in hopes of marketing a close race." Marketing a close race, that's why I don't think news should be for profit.
Chris Cillizza was one of the biggest purveyors of misinformation in the coverage of the Hillary email pseudo-scandal. He didn’t even understand the basics of the story, mistaking the fact that Powell’s people had told him that although Powell had used his personal email account for day to day State Department business he had used a separate system for communicating classified information. Cillizza was so ignorant about the subject that he interpreted this to mean that Powell used his State.gov email account for that. Anyone reporting on this subject should have known state.gov is not a secure server and was never approved for transmitting classified information. Officials like Powell and Clinton always used a SCIF for classified communication.
But then Cillizza has made it clear that he doesn’t care about giving people the facts:
“My job is to assess not the rightness of each argument but to deal in the real world of campaign politics in which perception often (if not always) trumps reality. I deal in the world as voters believe it is, not as I (or anyone else) thinks it should be. ”
Trump gets media ratings and clicks, period. Also, the oddsmakers right now have Trump 10 percentage points over Biden.
Isn't it exactly the same plan the media ran in 2016? There is no difference here. It is just that Biden is a less controversial choice than Clinton was, so it was easier. I do believe the media grudges run long and deep, don't you? Did the DC press (many who went onto become movers and shakers at corporate news) ever get over their animosity towards the Clintons after getting kicked out of the West Wing? Watergate and the NYT? Part of problem is how wrong NYT got it with Watergate (did the DC and East Coast political bureau ever get over the outsiders from Arkansas winning over their folks?) It is going to be a lot harder to drag Biden through the mud with his popularity but of course they want a neck and neck race. To this day I hear how Clinton ran a campaign only against Trump, not a campaign of issues. That was the media's doing. Will they do it again? It looks like it.