1. Ugliest moment of election night: Trump’s assembled chanting “Lock her up!” as the electoral victory approached.
2. Anti-Trump bias made the entire journalism profession and punditry class incompetent, forming an almost impenetrable echo chamber that assured its smug occupants and Democrats that Hillary Clinton literally couldn’t lose. “Bias makes you stupid” is a frequent refrain here, and I cannot think of a more powerful example.
In a terrific if rueful article in Slate, Jim Newell writes of how the whole Democratic establishment convinced itself that Hillary couldn’t lose:
I think of the lawmakers, the consultants, the operatives, and—yes—the center-left media, and how everything said over the past few years leading up to this night was bullshit…Think of how wrong the entire national media conversation was—and yes, I contributed my fair share—about how the Republicans were being torn apart as a party. I prewrote a piece Tuesday afternoon, to be published in the event of the expected Clinton win, pushing back against both myself and other members of the media, arguing that Democrats and Republicans were both in existential trouble and that, in the short-term context of a decaying political system, Republicans might even have the edge…This was wrong. Republicans don’t have a slight edge over Democrats in a decaying political system. Republicans are ascendant.
The whole point of experts and analysts is that they use facts and objectivity to cut through rationalizations and bias. If they can’t or won’t do that, they are useless. They are frauds. Here’s the Washington Post’s media columnist, Margaret Sullivan, who proves elsewhere in the essay, even as she writes about bias, that she is still a partisan to her core:
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. …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….We just kept checking our favorite prognosticating sites and feeling reassured, even though everyone knows that poll results are not votes.
The news media anti-Trump bias might have even lost Hillary the election, not just by outraging the public–it was so, so blatant–but by deceiving the Democrats. Clinton didn’t bother to campaign in Wisconsin, so convinced was she that voters there would blindly follow the party, as usual. The state was one of the big victories for Trump.
Yes, bias has made U.S. journalism incompetent, stupid, self-satisfied and useless. It will take more than one fiasco to reform it—if it can be reformed. I hope it can because democracy doesn’t function well with an untrustworthy newsmedia,
3. Nate Silver’s famed 538 website was embarrassed by Trump’s win after predicting the odds on a Clinton victory as about 2-1 and a final vote total near 300 for Hillary. He was still closer than anyone else, and right before the election was attacked in Vox and the Huffington Post for not showing how certain a Clinton victory would be. Wrote cocky partisan analyst Ryan Grim in the Huffington Post, accusing Silver of cooking the results (and receiving several obscene tweets in response by Silver, who weights the polls according to reliability ):
“We’ll have to wait and see what happens. Maybe Silver will be right come Election Day ― Trump will win Florida, and we’ll all be in for a very long night. Or our forecast will be right, she’ll win nationally by 5 or 6, and we can all turn in early. If he’s right, though, it was just a good guess ― a fortunate “trend line adjustment” ― not a mathematical forecast. If you want to put your faith in the numbers, you can relax. She’s got this.”
Yeah, she’s had it, all right.
4. Part of ethical broadcast journalism is professionalism: you cannot allow personal feelings to interfere with your job. Apparently they don’t teach that any more in journalism school, and news shows don’t require it, or even recognize its importance. Martha Raddatz, who moderated a presidential debate, was so emotionally committed to Clinton being elected that she choked-up discussing the military oversight by a President Trump. Worse, arguably, was Rachel Maddow, serving as an anchor for MSNBC election coverage. She told her viewers…
“You’re awake by the way. You’re not having a terrible, terrible dream. Also you’re not dead and you haven’t gone to hell. This is your life now, this is our election now, this is us, this is our country – it’s real.”
No bias there! How can viewers trust such a reporter to give honest and objective analysis when she is that hostile to a news figure?
5. I was waiting for the “Hillary lost because she’s a woman” excuse, and it arrived via a usually professional and reliable pundit, NPR’s Cokie Roberts. Roberts, appearing as an election analyst on ABC, attributed Trump’s win in part to “a strong sentiment about not having a woman president,” saying that there’s significant “hostility” to the idea, and that some of Trump’s upset “has to be attributed to the fact that Trump is running against a woman.” Yeah, that’s how Trump smoked 13 Republicans running against him in the primaries too: all those women. To really test this theory, Trump would have to run against a woman who was not corrupt, dishonest, venal, incompetent and venal.
I did not want Trump as my President, but I have to say that I will not mind having a President who can’t fall back on claiming prejudice every time he receives criticism. I don’t think there’s a “billionaire card” or a “narcissist card.” Is there?