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America, I apologize to you for Donald Trump

By Roland S. Martin, CNN Political Contributor
  • Roland Martin says media gave Trump credibility he didn't deserve
  • Trump was after publicity, Martin says, and he offered high ratings in return
  • Martin says it's time for Trump to be pushed off the news pages, out of prime airtime

Editor's note: Roland Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House." He is a commentator for TV One Cable network and host/managing editor of its Sunday morning news show, "Washington Watch with Roland Martin."

(CNN) -- America, as a nearly 20-year professional journalist, it is with the utmost sadness that I offer to you a heartfelt and sincere apology for my industry's creation and spectacle of the individual we all know, some love, and others despise, as Donald John Trump Sr.

For the last two decades, my beloved media industry has chronicled every crazy antic, sadistic statement, business announcement, marriage, divorce, birth announcement and the selling of multiple products as if our livelihood depended on showering gobs of ink and airtime on "The Donald."

We have afforded him the kind of respect normally reserved for people who have truly made a major difference in this world. Instead, the builder of gaudy buildings replete with the kind of extravagance that would make a Saudi oil titan blush, has demanded he be referred to as Mr. Trump.

When he walks into a room, heads turn, women faint, men quickly realize they are mere mortals compared to the indomitable Mr. Donald Trump. He is truly the most interesting man in the world (tongue planted firmly in cheek).

We have afforded him the kind of respect normally reserved for people who have truly made a major difference in this world.
--Roland S. Martin
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Yet with his most recent flirtation with running for the Republican nomination for president of the United States, we have finally pulled the curtain back from this wizard of the weird, and what has been revealed is a man so obsessed with the sound of his own voice that even when he is caught in a lie, he pretends it is absolute truth.

Fact? What fact? I will just dismiss that with the wave of the hand, or just call the press Obama lovers and that will settle that.

With his rampant lying about President Barack Obama's birth certificate, Trump dominated the airwaves, pushing aside any discussions about real issues of the day. With breathless promos, respected TV networks and their anchors, correspondents and reporters actually held interviews with Trump, seemingly giving him the benefit of the doubt as he continued to advance his lies.

Instead of starting every interview with the most important question, "Donald, why do you keep lying?" we fell for the okey-doke as if his joining of the birther movement somehow gave their wild, outlandish and untruthful view a dose of credibility.

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Magazines, newspapers and online sources also got in on the act, running a number of stories taking seriously his pronouncements of running for the presidency, even commissioning polls showing Republican voters held him in high regard. All based on the hyping of a lie?

All this created a firestorm of media attention, which culminated in the coverage of President Obama's news conference after releasing his long-form birth certificate. In addition, on that day, what did we see? A split screen of President Obama and Trump, beaming like a proud hunter who bagged his prey.

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Folks, the lavish attention paid to Trump, not only over the last few months, but also over the last two decades, has been pathetic and morbidly obese. And what no one in the media wants to own up to is the reason respected journalists actually would ask Trump about his opinion on domestic policy and world affairs is because he is an attention grabber -- a ratings magnet, or as Robert Traynham, host of Comcast's Roll Call TV, said on my TV One show, "Washington Watch," on Sunday: "He makes good copy."

And folks, therein is the real issue. Ask any real journalist, and they will laugh at the crazy things Donald Trump says. They will admit his only knowledge about foreign policy is the Miss Universe pageant, but because viewers and readers love to rubberneck at the scene of an accident, it is great to see the potential train wreck when he opens his mouth.

I have had producers tell me their show ratings go up when he's on. Forget the fact that what he says is a joke, news operations nationwide have allowed Trump to pimp them out as they run his outlandish comments. None of the major news organizations in this country is immune from doing this. NONE.

So why should any journalist be shocked that Trump would be so callous and ridiculous in joining the birther crowd? He knew we would eat it up, giving him tons of airtime to spew his garbage. But like crack addicts in need of a fix, we are willing to let Trump supply us with the hit we need to achieve that high, no matter how devastating it is to our system.

The destruction he left in his wake didn't matter. As long as we got what we wanted -- more ratings, newsstand sales and record page views -- and he got the attention he desired, everyone was happy.

America, for this, I am sorry. I am sorry that my media brothers and sisters failed in being honest with you. Even though we patted ourselves on the back for our tough interviews of him on the birther issue, that does not negate the many times respected journalists interviewed the gossip page mainstay about serious matters.

We fed the beast for years, and none of us should be shocked to see the beast go on a rampage. Again, America, I'm sorry.

Let's just hope that respectable news organizations will remember the last couple of months and leave Donald Trump and those like him in the celebrity news trash bin.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roland Martin.

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