Thursday, November 10, 2016


I learn from Jim Rutenberg of The New York Times that people are beating up on the media again, and the media feels it deserves the beating:
The country’s major news organizations, as surprised as anybody by Donald J. Trump’s ascension to the presidency, faced a question from their audiences on Wednesday that was laced with a sense of betrayal and anger: How did you get it so wrong?

The question came in letters. (“To editors and writers of The NYT,” one reader wrote, “you were so wrong for so long. You misled your readers and were blinded by your own journalistic bigotry.”) It came in Facebook posts. (“You were in a bubble and weren’t paying attention to your fellow Americans,” the filmmaker Michael Moore wrote in a post shared more than 100,000 times.)...

The NBC anchor Tom Brokaw ... lament[ed] that for all its efforts at advancing diversity, the news media was still “pretty confined” to “the Eastern Seaboard.”
Times executive editor Dean Baquet accepts that criticism:
... in an interview in his office, [Baquet] said, “If I have a mea culpa for journalists and journalism, it’s that we’ve got to do a much better job of being on the road, out in the country, talking to different kinds of people than the people we talk to -- especially if you happen to be a New York-based news organization -- and remind ourselves that New York is not the real world.”
Margaret Sullivan, the former public editor of the Times who now writes for The Washington Post, made the same argument yesterday:
To put it bluntly, the media missed the story. In the end, a huge number of American voters wanted something different. And although these voters shouted and screamed it, most journalists just weren’t listening. They didn’t get it.

They didn’t get that the huge, enthusiastic crowds at Donald Trump’s rallies would really translate into that many votes. They couldn’t believe that the America they knew could embrace someone who mocked a disabled man, bragged about sexually assaulting women, and spouted misogyny, racism and anti-Semitism.

It would be too horrible. So, therefore, according to some kind of magical thinking, it couldn’t happen.

Journalists -- college-educated, urban and, for the most part, liberal -- are more likely than ever before to live and work in New York City and Washington, D.C., or on the West Coast. And although we touched down in the big red states for a few days, or interviewed some coal miners or unemployed autoworkers in the Rust Belt, we didn’t take them seriously. Or not seriously enough.
I don't know what stories Baquet and Sullivan were reading, but I felt there were stories about rural Trump voters -- who are they? what do they want? -- practically every day in the mainstream media.

I frequently take shots at the press, but a narrative is being constructed that's going to hurt non-media liberals as well. According to the narrative, the media didn't show white working-class voters enough respect, the media is liberal, therefore what's harming the white working class is liberalism.

A big part of the problem, Rutenberg says, is that elite journalists in their elite bubble thought Hillary Clinton was going to win. Look, I like taking shots at the press as much as the next guy, but I'm going to be a press defender here: The media thought Clinton was going to win because polls and polling averages that had accurately predicted winners in the past said she was going to win.

I think the problem with polling this year was that it didn't reflect the possibility of changes in voting likelihood. It didn't take account of the fact that working-class white conservatives who don't meet "likely voter" criteria really were more motivated this time, or that previous regular voters -- maybe some who regularly vote Democratic but aren't very politically engaged -- might have decided that the choice of candidates this year was too dispiriting. It also didn't acknowledge that some Democrats, primarily non-white Democrats, were being prevented or discouraged from voting by voter ID laws, polling-place closings, and so on.

We could apply 20/20 hindsight and say that maybe every poll needs to come with some asterisks: Here are the top-line results, and here's what the numbers would look like if this or that newsworthy development shifts the vote. But pollsters didn't know that, or didn't know that it was a thing they should focus more deeply on, because their methods worked in the past. And thus journalists didn't know it, either. That's not elitism. That's not contempt for white people. We shouldn't let that narrative take hold.


Danp said...

It's not the media's job to understand and empathize with voters. It's their job to inform them. The primary issues the media discussed were not economic, but the economy is NOT the problem. The focus was on sex and emails. The media failed, but the voting population was despicable and shallow.

Bill Murray said...

Part of the issue with good reporting is the decline of the size of the newsroom. Media outlets don't have the resources to cover areas like they used to.

tony in san diego said...

I don't know what they are talking about. There were fewer voters this year than previously.

AllieG said...

Tom Brokaw hasn't met a regular voter since 1973. Talk about lack of self-awareness. Funny how there was no similar outbreak of mea culpas about coverage of the black community after Obama was elected.

Victor said...

And yet again, the 18th Century concern for slave-holding states came back and bit us in the ass!
Thanks, Electoral College!!!

Now, can we get rid of this Electoral College at the same time as t-RUMP is being sued for his "University?"
Of course not!
THe EC will continue after all, it gave conservatives W and now t-RUMP! - and all law suits againt t-RUMP U will be quashed by AG Guliani

I'll 'see you in the GULag!'
(That's my moniker on almost all other sites).

Joey Blau said...

The press did not really understand Trumpers' incoherent rage and made fun of them for their stupidity instead. Only when they attacked the press directly did they highlight the anger, and then mostly blamed trump for making them a target.

Vicki Hartley said...

It is easier than that: the white disaffected voters have am entirely different media universe. Not just Fox and the Internet. No one reports on the whole religious right news empire. My suspicion is that the hidden Hispanic and black vote came from there too. They would not vote for Romney or McCain, or even Trump without Pence

Jon Rudd said...

The trouble with the mainstream media is the same as the trouble with the leadership of the Democratic Party.
It's not liberalism.
It's what Thomas Frank has been arguing and it can be summarized in two words: Martha's Vineyard.

Feud Turgidson said...

Vicki H, on go scrooge with your "hidden" voters. What a total bogusity: the idea of "hidden" voters is as bushwas a copout as the Einstein EPR Paradox' "hidden varibles" horse poop.

Tony in SD gets it right: "fewer voters". FEWER VOTERS makes what we've got all complacent with accepting as libs lose the midterms, into a presidential year phenomen.

It's not JUST "fewer voters", of course, but I expect Tony means the FUSE, the TRIGGER, the BUTTON that sets off the entire democratic smothering contraption.

The contraption itself starts with the flawed ragged edges in our Constitution (eg. Wyoming & Delaware get 2 US senators, same as California & Texas - NOTHING's gonna go wrong there, nosirree, sixty million getting the same elected rep power as one million and a spavined mule, no potential for problems there) to an historical acceptance of 'natural' gerrymandering (t some extent unavoidable, but not nearly to the same extent as in the ox wagon era: we got INTERNET, folks, and phones, trains, planes, cars - no more ox wagon travel, no more having to walk a district - but NO UPDATES!), which is then put on a special diet of deliberate partisan-inspired creative district drawing, like a specially bred giant goose with an oversized gullet the better to stuff him to his eyeballs with the thickest-grained growth-hormone-laced mammal meat carved off super doped ungulates held blind captive & mouths permanently stuck in a feed bag.

And that STILL won't produce a President Don John the Grifter Dumpster Fire without active programmatic vote suppression of an identifiable dominant group, OR suppression of every voter who is NOT in a slight majority or relatively large minority group. Easy smeasy: white? I'll get in my trek van and spend a day driving out your ballots to deliver it personally to deliver 'em in person special just for you & the missus & kinfolk. NOT white? Prove his theorem by Ramanujan that has defied the best mathematicians on the planet for a century, wait around while we check your proof (sure hope we can find someone free or at all), if he gives in the okay, then, maybe next election, if you're still here and didn't DIE or something, of which moved away or died are our two automatic assumptions for bleaching all the nasty color out of our state voter registration data bases.

Weapon? Gerrymandering.
Ammo? Voter suppression.
Trigger? Lov turnout.

Lawrence said...

The polling models that worked in 2008 and 2012 got Florida, Pennsylvania, and the Great Lakes states wrong. I looked at 538 three times a day for the past eight months. Shame on me for thinking it was as accurate as the oil pressure gauge in my car. So why this result now and not four years ago?

Unknown said...

Trump bullied and insulted his way to the presidency. The GOP kept up a constant stream of hatred against Hillary and a lot of it stuck. She was a vulnerable candidate from the beginning.

CH said...

What Mr. Rudd said above.

GrrlGeek1972 said...

Look, the MSM media basically didn't cover Hillary Clinton at all except to keep snarking "emails emails emails" while truly failing to expose the Russian connection and all the seething corruption underlying the Trump empire. Seriously, any day he made it through a rally without frothing at the mouth he was 'presidential', while any day she had lint on her collar she was 'frumpy' or 'tired' or 'didn't smile enough' or 'smiled her smirky smile' or other such bullshit.

I'm sick and tired of mollycoddling people who insist on voting their fantasies. The coal jobs aren't coming back. The manufacturing jobs aren't coming back. And the GOP is lying when they tell you they care about anyone other than their donor class.

The Democrats, Hillary in particular, had policy statements that explained how displaced workers could be helped to find new, productive, sustainable jobs. With living wages and healthcare. And real child support and childcare for working parents.

Did we see any of this compare and contrast in the media? No, we did not.

The poor whites of Kentucky voted in a governor last year that promised to TAKE AWAY THEIR HEALTHCARE and they thought that was just peachy. And he is doing it. So to put the cherry on the sundae, they voted to flip their House from D to R, thereby insuring there is no check on the destruction of poor people.

So spare me the tiny violins for the whites with economic anxiety.

JustRuss said...

If mosts journalists are liberal, as Sullivan claims, why the hell were they so fixated on Hillary's emails?