The FBI’s search of former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence continues to reverberate across America’s airwaves and front pages. Federal officials are tight-lipped about what prompted the raid and what it uncovered, leaving media outlets and political operatives to fill the void with a mix of anonymous reports, educated guesses, and incendiary misinformation.
Peter Loge is an associate professor of media and public affairs at the George Washington University and the director of the Project on Ethics in Political Communication. Here are Professor Loge’s thoughts on the nature of coverage and commentary about the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago:
“Journalists and viewers hate an information vacuum. People tend to fill explanatory vacuums with whatever is handy, whether it is accurate or not.
Absent complete information, journalists often speculate or invite others to speculate. We are seeing stories about what the FBI investigation could mean for elections or candidates, talking heads and commentators speculating about motives and outcomes, candidates giving whatever explanation will generate the most donations or online fury.
The more declarative the speculation, the more coverage it gets and money it raises. Accuracy matters less than attention.”