The Democratic presidential candidates have been spending a lot of time in front of podcasters’ microphones. Now, as President Trump gears up his reelection campaign amid an impeachment investigation, he too is taking advantage of the medium to reach voters. In one of his first ever podcast appearances, the President sat down for an interview for an episode of The Dan Bongino Show on Westwood One Podcast Network.
“I have no choice because the media is so corrupt,” Trump said. “It's really not something I'm doing for anybody. I guess I'm doing it for the people to get the word out because the [New York] Times and The Washington Post and every network is, as far as I'm concerned, they're corrupt. So we get the word out at least.” During the interview, President Trump discussed issues including the impeachment investigation, changes to Obamacare, and the economy, among other topics.
The episode also marked a change for Bongino, by making him an interviewer. Earlier shows have all featured his commentaries on current events. “We're going to try to do it weekly,” he told listeners. Bongino is a former Secret Service Agent, former NYPD officer, and frequent Fox News guest.
With tens of millions of dollars already raised to fund paid advertising, the Trump campaign team may not be as in need of free podcast plugs as the Democratic contenders. They’ve been using the medium as a low-cost way to increase their name recognition and show a more complete range of their personality. For instance, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) turned up on the season two opener of the iHeartPodcast Network’s The Ron Burgundy Podcast, demonstrating her sense of humor amidst policy nuggets.
GOP consultant Mark Harris told Campaigns & Elections she believes podcast appearances by candidates need to be more about policy talking points to connect with voters who may be listening due to the more personal nature of the format. “It’s more akin to the traditional coffee klatch,” he said.
A mid-year tally of podcast appearances by the 2020 presidential candidates shows that the Democratic contenders are readily embracing the platform, with more than 1,200 appearances on podcasts through the end of July. Some have been on hundreds of shows, leading one analyst to call it the “hidden primary” of the 2020 race.