Is the media to blame for Trump?

It’s become almost accepted wisdom that the news media have fanned the flame of Donald Trump, basking in his click-bait commentary and covering his every move as if he was a form of entertainment and not a candidate for president. President Obama said as much earlier this week. But Zeynep Tufekci, who studies social media and social movements, sees something else.

“Mr. Trump’s rise is actually a symptom of mass media’s growing weakness, especially in controlling the limits of what is acceptable to say,” says Tufekci, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina, in the New York Times.

She argues that journalists at major outlets used to serve as gatekeepers, determining what ideas and policies fell within an acceptable range for discussion. She says that’s no longer the case, as Trump and his followers, united on social media, have come to view the media as a joke. “We are in an era of rapidly weakening gatekeepers,” she says.

Tufekci says Trump supporters don’t trust the media or political parties. Instead, she says, they share personal narratives with each other in person and on social media that are a blend of falsehoods, facts, and racial resentment.

Trump doesn’t use polling to calibrate his message, as most campaigns do, Tufekci says. He uses Twitter to pick up and amplify messages that resonate. And he uses crowd response to his speeches, which often seem rambling, to refine his message. “He is not a bumbling celebrity,” says Tufekci. “He is a politician deeply in touch with his own, polarized base.”




A group of senators, led by Senate President Stan Rosenberg, make the case for the charter school legislation they unveiled yesterday. (CommonWealth) The bill appears to face long odds and seems unlikely to provide the fix that will head off a high-profile ballot question campaign this fall. (Boston Globe) A Globe editorial calls it a good effort, but says it falls short in ensuring the ability to provide more charter seats. The Herald also gives the plan a thumbs-down review.

The state retirement board moved to strip former Probation commissioner John O’Brien and his one-time deputy Elizabeth Tavares of their state pensions in light of their 2014 federal corruption convictions. (Boston Globe)

The state auditor tells Barnstable County to hire a lawyer to pursue rental arrangements with state agencies that are squatting on county land and not paying rent. (Cape Cod Times)

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority offers loans to Peabody and other communities to remove lead drinking water pipes. (Salem News)


How Beverly banded together to save the historic Cabot theater. (WBUR)

The developers of City Square in Worcester seek permission to tear down the landmark, crumbling Notre Dame des Canadiens Church. (Telegram & Gazette)

Some kind of incendiary devices were found in and around power lines in Tyngsboro. Officials were releasing few details. (The Sun)


The Enterprise has a rundown of what Brockton and surrounding communities would get in mitigation payments if a casino is approved in the city.


California lawmakers approve a $15 an hour minimum wage bill. (Time)

A Salem News editorial praises US Rep. Seth Moulton and calls him a lock to win reelection in November.


More questions about the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance’s status as a nonpartisan voter education group as a Republican state representative candidate claims in an email to have the organization’s endorsement. (Boston Globe)

The Boston Herald endorses Diana Hwang in the seven-way April 12 Democratic primary for the state Senate seat vacated by East Boston’s Anthony Petruccelli, saying she “personifies the ‘new’ Bostonians who are making their mark on our city and the region.” CommonWealth recently looked at Hwang and Lydia Edwards, the two minority women in the race who fit that bill.

Could Wisconsin be Donald Trump’s Waterloo? (Boston Globe)


An outspoken priest from Norwell who called on Cardinal Bernard Law to resign in the early days of the clergy sex abuse scandal has been defrocked by the Vatican for allegedly sexuallly abusing a minor. (Patriot Ledger)


Adrian Walker sings the praises of Beth Anderson, founder of Phoenix Charter Academy schools, which focus on dropouts and other high-risk populations. CommonWealth looked at Phoenix’s flagship Chelsea school in this story two years ago.

A report from Brown University finds that parents are sorely underrepresented on the boards of charter schools. (Standard-Times)


Gov. Charlie Baker tells biotech leaders that soaring drug costs are part of the public discontent with the establishment that is playing out in the presidential race. (Boston Globe)


A federal judge says Boston is wrong to regulate taxis while giving ride-hailing companies a free ride. The judge orders officials to come up with some regulations for the ride-hailing companies and explain why he shouldn’t issue an injunction. (CommonWealth)

Electronic tolling on the Massachusetts Turnpike starts this fall; there are some sections where drivers could get on and off without being assessed. (Masslive)

State inspectors are seeing an increase in the number of small bridges in need of repair. (State House News Service)


A massive landfill in Southbridge is nearly full, and a fight is brewing on whether it should be permitted to expand. (Telegram & Gazette)


The State Police have begun widely arming troopers with Tasers, which they say can reduce the use of lethal force in tense situations. (Boston Globe)

A new Boston police Opiate Response Squad aims to track down dealers but also connect users and their families with support and treatment services following overdoses. (Boston Herald)

A student at Salem State University apparently stopped taking his meds and stabbed an English professor nearly 30 times in a bathroom. (Eagle-Tribune)

A Western Mass. father says the Department of Children and Families is making him “jump through hoops” to regain custody of his 1-year-old son, who was taken by state officials after the boy was brought to a Westfield hospital and administered Narcan to reverse a possible opiate ingestion. The father says a preliminary urine test showed no drugs in the boy’s system. (Boston Herald)

An ACLU lawyer wants a federal court to unseal records that may show information on the government’s efforts to get at information in the iPhone of a reputed Boston gang leader. (Boston Globe)

The Republican-controlled legislature in Kansas is so outraged by recent decisions from the state’s high court that they are pushing a bill to allow impeaching justices who issue unpopular decisions. (New York Times)


The new owner of the Orange County Register fires the editor and 70 other workers. (Los Angeles Times)


Tom Keane has a nice essay on why Sunday’s start to the baseball season can’t come soon enough. (WBUR)