Public trust in pretty much everything is at record lows. Traditional institutions that we have revered and depended upon for security and stability are now just as often seen as part of the problem as part of the solution. This sentiment cuts across all age, income, educational achievement, and ideological cohorts. The objects of scorn and vilification are just as likely to include both political parties and mainstream candidates as they are Congress, Church hierarchy, the Boy Scouts of America, the United Way, and (even) pollsters.

But the mainstream media has really taken a nosedive in both public reverence and trust. The trend happened long before Brian Williams-gate, Today Show backstabbing, and the general celebritization of media personalities. This is a phenomenon as much to do with technological changes, free access to a wider variety and more personally agreeable forms of news information, more immediacy and choice in timing of delivery, and greater opportunities for interaction - as it does with the decline of trust in traditional forms of media. This is also an era of non- and anti-heroes. Long gone are the Cronkites, Huntleys, Brinkleys, Brokaws, and Charlie Gibsons - journalists with long experience in the field and well-established trust. Newspapers cut costs by letting go their iconic gumshoes and trusted sources of both coverage and opinion rather than pay for their seniority. Instead the reporter carries his or her own camera, writes a blog, is disembodied from content, and is in competition from social media like Twitter and Facebook.

Some of it is just the era in which we live. Polls by both Zogby and Pew note how little trust exists for the media. Not so long ago, a chance to be on NBC's Meet the Press or CBS' Face the Nation was seen as central to reaching large and influential groups of voters and opinion leaders. Today, candidates (and products) have their own way to shape messages and images so, while the Big Interview is hardly unimportant, it is no longer central to a candidate.

But more dramatically is how the tables have turned on subject and object. Watching the Sunday shows evolve has made it clear who is now in charge and who is the foil. Not so long ago, the late Tim Russert put guests through the ringer with very tough questions and relentless (but never disrespectful) challenges. A guest had little to worry about because he or she knew that the opposing side or candidate would receive the same treatment when it was their turn. Mr. Russert was fair and surviving his show was something to brag about.

But today the tables have turned. The candidate is the molder and shaper of the news. Whether the guest is Donald Trump, Lindsey Graham (and it usually is), Ted Cruz, John Kasich, or Bernie Sanders - they are driving the interview. They interrupt the questioner, challenge the nature of the question, argue with the basis of the information used to pose the question, perform the moral equivalent of throwing the chairs and tipping over the tables, then answering the way they want. Just this past Sunday, NBC's Chuck Todd who has been a key Washington fixture for two decades was schooled by no less than Messrs. Trump, Kasich, and Sanders as they chose to ignore his questions and follow their own inner direction. Essential to the shtick of the Trump campaign is his browbeating of Anderson Cooper of CNN, Katy Tur and Mario Diaz-Balart of NBC News, and the Des Moines Register. Even President Barack Obama scores best when he fields interviews on offbeat shows aimed at target audiences and crushes a mainstream network correspondent, the generally very savvy CBS White House reporter for asking a stupid question at a recent news conference. I cannot recall anyone coming to the defense of Major Garrett after his poorly phrased query.

As for Mr. Obama's would-be successor, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she has not only been mum to the press for the most part, but has literally cordoned them off by rope at some events. This has become an important press issue, but not really one for the public.

The political system is broken and so is the traditional media. Ratings figures are most unkind. On their best nights, over 320 million Americans are NOT watching Bill O'Reilly or Jon Stewart. To be sure, these popular hosts have the capacity to use social media, share soundbites, and get their faces and content out to millions of people in other ways, but from the candidates' point of view, it is more about plotting and executing the "Neo-Campaign" - they are now running against the mainstream media as much as they are vowing to change Washington, DC..