It may be because we don't worry that much about criminals who are morons. This guy built his plan around stealing a cop's gun, which might have worked if he'd had a plan for dealing with the cop. As it was, he apparently believed that (a) he'd be able to get a cop's gun away from him while the cop was free to fight back, and (b) that he'd be able to do so in such a way that he'd still have time to get some shots off. Clearly, this is not a professional we're talking about. The Post article makes a similar point: perhaps we don't think this guy was a serious threat.
Instapundit suggests it's because some wish the attempt had succeeded. Jazz Shaw at Hot Air points out how obviously different the narrative would be if another politician had been the target.
Can you imagine the coverage we’d be seeing if someone had attempted to shoot Hillary Clinton? The same could be said if it had happened with Barack Obama in the summer of 2008. Questions would be debated on air for weeks on end about the evil lurking in the hearts of men and why someone would be so desperate to prevent the election of the first black or female president. But when someone plots for more than a year to kill Trump, travels across the country to find an opportunity and then launches his attempt, it creates barely a ripple in the media pond.I'm going to give another reading. I think it's because seeing Trump as vulnerable to violence might create sympathy for him.
And what of the fact that Sandford is an illegal alien?
Brexit polling shows that the "Leave" camp suffered a significant hit when a neo-Nazi killed a British politician on the "Remain" side. This is, in point of fact, completely irrational. Whatever your reasons for thinking Britain should stay or go aren't in any way touched by the fact that some psychopath happens to kill an innocent third party: it is the sort of act that shouldn't have any impact at all on your political judgment on this entirely unrelated question.
But humans aren't fully rational beings, and sympathy plays a huge role for some people in deciding what they take to be right and wrong. The thought that you might be on the side of a neo-Nazi, or have been against that nice young woman who was brutally killed, will sway some voters. The fact that the "Leave" camp is really mostly not neo-Nazis, or that the "Remain" camp has some deeply anti-democratic ideas and imperils the future of British common law and self government, is lost at least for a while in the emotional imagery.
In the case of Trump particularly, the narrative building around him is that he's an entirely unsympathetic character. It's not hard to build that narrative, since large parts of it are true. He's disrespectful, heedless of the truth, careless with his language, and apparently shameless. But he is human, and therefore he is vulnerable. If people came to see him that way -- if he actually got shot, for example -- it would pierce that image and make him a more sympathetic character.
If that happens, people might become more inclined to do what Byron York did last week: give Trump's proposals a sympathetic hearing. That can only happen if you are inclined to think well enough of the guy to look past what he actually said (which is often careless and poorly constructed) and try to find the best possible interpretation of his point. Still, when York did it, he found a core to the argument that isn't absurd, and in fact is pretty well-supported by the evidence.
My guess is that the press understands this at some level, and -- being almost exclusively Democrats -- the last thing they want is people giving Trump a sympathetic hearing. Play him as a strongman -- he's happy to play with you -- and he looks unsympathetic in the extreme. Play him as a vulnerable human being, and people might take a second look at what he's saying. If they do so in the spirit of sympathy, they might find what York found. And then he might win.