The Huffington Post most likely will continue to cover GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump in its entertainment section as an entertainer who is getting into politics, website senior politics editor Sam Stein said Wednesday.
"He is a businessman with a reality TV show," Stein, who was on the discussion panel on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," told the program, to much laughter from show hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. "This is not a pejorative — this is us acknowledging that we live in a political system in which entertainment is very good in the polls."
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Trump called the news site a "glorified blog" after it declared that his campaign would be covered "as part of our Entertainment section" because it "is a sideshow. We won't take the bait."
This week, the site doubled down on that stance, with two of its other top editors saying they are "more committed to the decision than ever," even though Trump is at the top of the polls.
"Over the last month, we've seen our central argument proven right: That Trump is nothing more than a sideshow and not a legitimate presidential contender with serious policy ideas for moving the country forward," HuffPost editorial director Danny Shea and Washington bureau chief Ryan Grim said in a statement to CNN.
Brzezinski said she has a problem with HuffPost taking such a stance, as it "reminds me of the FOX debate. It's like a news organization trying to control something and move it along in the direction that they believe is righteous."
But Stein reminded the panel to look at the site's decision as a "metacommentary," because the world is "vastly different than it was a while ago."
"Party bosses don't pick a presidential candidate, but we have the emergence of politics as entertainment," he said. "It's just a fact, and Donald Trump is better at it than anyone we've ever had before. And that doesn't mean it's pejorative to call him an entertainer. I think he himself has gone out there and said 'look at what I'm doing for the Fox News debates. The numbers are out of control. More viewers than ever.' He sees himself as an entertainer who is in politics.
And even though Ronald Reagan started his career as an actor, Stein said, he wouldn't have been considered for the entertainment section because he had already served two terms as governor of California before seeking the presidency.
Scarborough said he believes the decision is because of a feud between HuffPost owner Arianna Huffington and Trump, but that the coverage needs to change soon, because Trump "is not a sideshow" but is in first place.
Meanwhile, Stein said that Trump's more "serious, political, substantive issues" such as birthright citizenship won't be covered as an entertainment matter, but when it comes to Trump himself, he "is an entertainer in politics and we're covering him as such."
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