WASHINGTON – There’s little doubt the mainstream media tried to elect Hillary Clinton as president.
But they got Donald Trump.
The power of the press is legendary and enormous. So, how did that happen?
There is a growing body of evidence to support the theory that the mainstream media played a crucial role in electing Trump precisely by bashing him.
That’s because of an apparently sizeable backlash over their transparent and full support of Clinton, and a propensity to demonize Trump.
As the 2016 presidential race is autopsied, hindsight analysis from a number of sources indicates the major media were their own worst enemy.
Additionally, Trump found a way to turn the tables on the media by harnessing the power of mass communication for himself, in the form of social media.
In effect, he became his own media.
Perhaps the best investigative reporter in the business, Sharyl Attkisson, has turned the camera around to focus on her own profession to try to figure out: Just how did the major media get the 2016 election so wrong? And can they recover their credibility?
She shared with WND a sneak preview of her nationally syndicated Sunday show, Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson, in which the Emmy-Award winning reporter notes, “Trump was elected in spite of much the media being against him. Partly, perhaps, because of it.”
Attkisson points out how Trump turned the tables on the media by simply declaring them blatantly dishonest, which triggered such rallying cries at his campaign stops as “CNN sucks.”
Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz told her, “There was a level, a fundamental level of distrust toward the press,” and, “I think there was a stain on our credibility because we have not really come to grips with the underlying forces that caused us to completely and totally miss this election.”
Attkisson went on to point out how the emails published by Wikileaks and obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests didn’t just damage Clinton, they also eroded media credibility.
“They show an unseemly coziness between the news media and political operatives coordinating in ways the public was never meant to see,” she observed.
Attkisson will review on Sunday how collusion between the Clinton campaign and some of the biggest brand-names in journalism were laid bare for the world to see.
She details how reporters and contributors from the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, CNBC, Politico and the Atlantic worked hand-in-hand with Clinton staffers to deliver the campaign’s message as though it were actual news.
As WND reported on Friday, Trump’s stunning victory shocked some members of the mainstream, including reporters at the New York Times, the Washington Post and CBS, into admitting their profession has a liberal bias every bit as pervasive, and sometimes nasty, as conservatives have long claimed.
An article by Will Rahn, political correspondent and managing director, politics, for CBS News Digital, was remarkably scathing.
Titled “The Unbearable Smugness of the Press”, Rahn reflected, “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.”
“More than that and more importantly, we also missed the story, after having spent months mocking the people who had a better sense of what was going on.”
Rahn not only admitted that much of the public hates the mainstream media, he asserted they had good reason to do so.
“The audience for our glib analysis and contempt for much of the electorate, it turned out, was rather limited. This was particularly true when it came to voters, the ones who turned out by the millions to deliver not only a rebuke to the political system but also the people who cover it. Trump knew what he was doing when he invited his crowds to jeer and hiss the reporters covering him. They hate us, and have for some time.”
But, even while some members of the media admit they got it wrong, they still seem to have not learned their lesson.
That appeared to be evidenced in a story from AFP ostensibly outlining “How Trump bypassed hostile media to deliver his message.”
The point of the stort seemed to be, because of Trump’s use of social media to take his message directly to voters without using the mainstream media, “fact-checking by traditional media — which revealed Trump’s massive penchant for exaggeration and falsehood — had less impact than might have been expected.”
In other words, according to the article, the problem wasn’t media bias and a backlash, it was Trump’s alleged lies.
The article conceded that “the mainstream media (was) almost uniformly hostile toward” Trump.
But it maintained that Trump’s large presence on social media, and the immense number of followers spreading his message, allowed him to keep “momentum even as major news organizations unearthed embarrassing episodes about his past, including on his finances and sexual conduct.”
The article quoted Gabriel Kahn of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School as saying Trump’s use of social media allowed him to “construct an alternate narrative, I would say an alternate reality.”
And, “In this way, you have untruths and falsehoods that transit through our media ecosystem and become a tidal wave.”
That seems to suggest at least some of the media do not see the problem as their incessant calling Trump a liar, but that they did not do it enough, or, at least, effectively enough.
The AFP analysis also portrayed Trump supporters as not savvy enough to recognize obviously fake news stories on Facebook, such as “Hillary Clinton Calling for Civil War If Trump Is Elected.”
The article cited New York Magazine editor Max Read as arguing that the dissemination of such fake news was a key factor in Trump’s win.
But, other analysts believe, if the media continues to blame the consumers rather than the producers of its product, it may be in for an even greater fall from grace.
Kurtz indicated to Attkisson that he was hopeful.
“I think the media can certainly do better in the next campaign, do better at not bringing our own sort of bubble mentality, our own biases and ruling out or writing off candidates before any voting has actually started.”
But, he warned, “If we don’t do better next time, the remaining credibility that the news business has, is going to shrink even further.”