Local

In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
Donald Trump

Coronavirus Has Changed the Presidential Race. It's Affected How It's Covered, Too.

“It’s a real challenge for the journalists trying to balance their responsibility to cover the presidency but also to be something of a filter when it comes to campaign news,” says one veteran political reporter

NBC Universal, Inc.

Minutes into President Donald Trump’s official Rose Garden announcement Tuesday on China and Hong Kong, the event took a sharp turn: his remarks turned to his presidential opponent Joe Biden.

“Joe Biden‘s entire career has been a gift to the Chinese communist party,” Trump claimed, one of many attacks leveled at his political opponent in what has traditionally been a place for reserved for non-political comments.  

“It just quickly devolved into almost a repackaging of the campaign rally he didn’t have last weekend in New Hampshire,” former Boston Globe reporter Glen Johnson said of the event.

Johnson, who has covered five presidential races, said, “It’s a real challenge for the journalists trying to balance their responsibility to cover the presidency but also to be something of a filter when it comes to campaign news.”

Trump went on to say, “If we’d listened to Joe Biden, hundreds of thousands of additional lives would’ve been lost.“

President Trump's rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, has been postponed, with the campaign citing concerns over the weather.

Northeastern University professor Dan Kennedy said, “President Trump loves rallies. And now he can’t do them.”

Kennedy said that many media outlets feel they gave candidate Trump too much air time in 2016 -- because his often outrageous statements made for good ratings -- and are now committed to changing their behavior.

“You saw CNN and MSNBC and some others just say, this is a political event and they dumped out of it,” he said.

With town halls and house parties mostly off the table -- Joe Biden says he will not hold any rallies during the pandemic -- reporters and candidates will need to re-think the old election norms.  

“This is going to be a campaign that is conducted in the four corners of a television set for everybody. Whether it’s via Zoom or it’s live coverage," Johnson said. "So it’s going to have a very, very different feel."

Dan Kennedy agreed: “This is going to be unlike any campaign we’ve seen in our lifetime.”

Contact Us