Ever since the election, a variety of journalists have written mea culpas apologizing for how their respective news outlets screwed up election coverage. “The mood in the Washington press corps is bleak, and deservedly so,” Will Rahn wrote at CBSnews.com. “It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that, with a few exceptions, we were all tacitly or explicitly #WithHer, which has led to a certain anguish in the face of Donald Trump’s victory.”
(Let me note here that I wrote a story trashing the media pre-election, before it was fashionable.)
Mea Culpas are definitely in order, though some of them don’t seem entirely sincere. Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., publisher of the New York Times, wrote a letter to readers in which he cluelessly wondered whether Donald Trump’s “sheer unconventionality lead us and other news outlets to underestimate his support among American voters?” No, Arthur, you underestimated his support because your overly-educated, upper class, East Coast elite staff didn’t understand what was happening in the country.
Meanwhile, Suzlberger promised the Times would “rededicate ourselves to… report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor, striving always to understand and reflect all political perspectives and life experiences in the stories that we bring to you. It is also to hold power to account, impartially and unflinchingly.”
Yeah, holding powerful people to account is what the Times is famous for these days. As I wondered last night on Twitter, now that the Clinton campaign doesn’t exist, who will its journalists clear their stories with?
Of course, most journalists, following in the footsteps of Hillary Clinton, aren’t apologizing for having completely misread the election, they’re doubling down on their own mistakes. Take the case of Newsweek‘s pitiful, deranged Kurt Eichenwald, who prior to the election trotted out a stream of stories straight from opposition research firms who worked — either directly or for wealthy pro-Democratic investors — for Hillary’s campaign.
Most of these stories were loopy propaganda tales that could never have passed scrutiny with any rigorous factcheck, or stories that contained information of little interest but that were hyped into “bombshells” by Newsweek and pro-Hillary news outlets and foisted on the public.
Eichenwald’s work had absolutely zero impact on the election — indeed one could argue that he and other Hillary stenographers pissed off readers already angry with the media and rallied votes for Trump — and now, post-election, he’s gone even further off the deep end. Just this week he regaled readers with a story about how he “almost assaulted a fan of my work,” which makes one wonder why his editor allowed the piece to run in Newsweek as opposed to calling for a squadron of medical personnel armed with Thorazine darts.
Equally bizarre tweets emanated from Eichenwald on election eve. So dumbly confident was he that his work had elected Hillary that he grandly announced, “Wife & I headed 4 french dinner. Next time I check in, will have a newly elected president. I urge everyone 2 get away from politics 2night.” Hours later, his dreams crushed, Eichenwald was back on Twitter. “I hate to say this but, against my investment advisor’s recommendation, I sold all stocks and went all cash months ago, just in case,” he wrote in one particularly weird Tweet. (The Dow Jones has climbed sharply as of late so Eichenwald should probably listen to his investment advisor next time instead of burying his cash and gold in the backyard like a common madman.)
The there’s Brian Beutler of the New Republic, who over the past week has written two pieces about the abysmal performance of journalism, “The Media Blew the Election. Now They’re Blowing the Transition to Trump” and “Shame on Us, the American Media. The press blew this election, with potentially horrifying consequences.”
But Beutler is not apologizing for having gotten so much wrong about the election (see more below), he’s still complaining that the press “blew” the election by being too hard on Hillary and too soft on her opponent. “Trump resembles the political leaders of the European far right, and his core supporters embrace him for that very reason; but this was generally not the way he was portrayed, and definitely not the way his supporters were portrayed,” he wrote.
In other words, Trump’s supporters crave fascism and are a bunch of racist goons and “deplorables,” as Hillary charged. As I always note, there are plenty of racists who backed Trump and those people should be denounced. But reducing all of his supporters to being crazed Hillbillies is just sure stupid.
Also, I’m still waiting for the press to recognize that liberal racism is a common problem too and that Hillary’s supporters included plenty of “deplorables” as well, it’s just that their racism (and sexism) is more invisible to reporters because so many of them share it.
Beutler peddled a load of similar garbage during the campaign and has clearly learned nothing since. Indeed, back in September he wrote a story saying that “Hillary’s ‘Deplorables’ Barb Wasn’t a Gaffe—But the Trump Campaign’s Response Was.”
Here are few other headlines from his campaign coverage:
“Republicans’ Worst Nightmare Isn’t What They Think It Is. Donald Trump might refuse to concede defeat. But he could do something much worse to the GOP.”
“Democrats Need to Get Ready to Run Washington. An unanticipated wave election could hand them the White House and both chambers of Congress. Are they prepared to govern?”
“Hillary Clinton to Panicked Republicans: You’re on Your Own. Clinton was once willing to draw a distinction between “normal” Republicans and Donald Trump. Not anymore.”