Commentary

Out-Of-Touch News Media Was Totally Clueless

Most of the news media seemed to favor Hillary Clinton for president in this campaign, so when Donald Trump won, it came as a huge shock.

The best evidence of this is the widespread framing of Trump’s victory on the morning after as an “upset,” as if he had a snowball’s chance in hell of winning, and miracle of miracles, he came out on top. But as far as I could tell, the gap between Trump and Clinton in the days leading up to Election Day was relatively narrow, even if she was ahead in some polls by a few percentage points. An “upset”? Only if you assumed Clinton would win and then were stunned when she didn’t.

Yes, Trump won by a close margin. It was so close that it took until the wee hours of Wednesday morning for the TV networks to call it. Trump gave his acceptance speech (pictured above) at around 2:30 a.m.

It then took only several hours after that for the intelligentsia to mount their high horses and post columns that declared the outcome to be “an American tragedy” (David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker) and “the end of the romantic vision of America” (Paul Krugman on NYTimes.com). My goodness!

On CNN.com, one of the videos you could watch this morning was one titled “Emotional Van Jones: ‘How do I explain this to my children?’ ” Jones is a social activist -- an African-American who is seen regularly as a commentator on CNN. “It’s hard to be a parent tonight,” he said on CNN last night. He then indicated that he thinks Trump is a bully and a bigot whose victory in this presidential election is difficult to explain to his children.

My suggestion: Tell them we had an election and under our system, when the votes were tallied, Trump had enough of them to meet the requirements of the electoral college and thereby beat Clinton. Sure, there might be a lot more to it, but at the same time, that’s all there is to it.

Trump’s victory is a slap in the face to the many members of the media establishment who feel they know everything. They feel this way because the people they are in contact with the most are their own kind -- namely, other people in the news media. The media establishment today are “insiders,” just like the political class they cover. To many Americans, the media and political establishments are one and the same. I pointed this out in a TV Blog back in May.

You might say Trump's victory is as much a repudiation of know-it-all media types as it was the political establishment. Think about it: For months and months, we have had dozens of pundits and commentators on the news channels every day and night for hours on end making predictions, telling us what the electorate was like, and what “the American people” are thinking. The last thing the “experts” expected was a Trump win.

And yet here we are. Among other things, Trump's victory reveals that the so-called experts who chatter away so confidently on television every night about politics and social trends are in reality a bunch of know-nothings. They missed the boat on this one.

As for the Election Night coverage, at least no network projected a winner prematurely, although it was interesting throughout the evening to note the varying electoral-vote tallies from network to network.

For much of the evening, Fox News Channel seemed to have a higher electoral vote total for Trump than most of the other networks. For example, at around 11:20 p.m. Eastern time, Fox News had 222 electoral votes for Trump and 209 for Clinton. CBS had 197 for Clinton and 193 for Trump. On CNN, it was 197 for Clinton, and 187 for Trump. Over on NBC, it was 209 for Clinton and 187 for Trump.

The variations were due to decisions at each network to either call certain states for either candidate or hold off. In that regard, Fox News Channel seemed more eager than some of the other networks to call some states for Trump. However, none of the Fox projections for Trump turned out to be wrong, so you might conclude that maybe Fox had the most accurate apparatus available for making projections.

The challenge for all the networks was filling all the airtime between the hourly poll closings and the projections they were hopeful of making as various polls closed. Much of it seemed to be endless -- and largely impenetrable -- blathering about this or that county or the ethnic makeup of the electorate in various states, compared to four years ago.

Much of it was dull too. That may have been because many in the TV news media were as shell-shocked and subdued as the Clinton supporters seen on TV at the Javits Center in New York City as the realization sank in that their candidate might lose.

5 comments about "Out-Of-Touch News Media Was Totally Clueless".
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  1. Gary Holmes from Gary Holmes Communications LLC, November 9, 2016 at 1:08 p.m.

    Great column Adam.  Coiuldn't agree more.

  2. Christina Ricucci from Millenia 3 Communications, November 9, 2016 at 2:41 p.m.

    The shocked reactions from media "experts" have been ridiculously over the top. IMO the outcome of this election was going to be an "American tragedy" either way with two such hated candidates, little integrity in evidence on either side (the fact-checking columns for each candidate were terribly sad), and the atmosphere of divisiveness. I heard so many persons say that they were grappling with their conscience because there was no "lesser of two evils" to vote for in this election. All of that aside, though--yes, the most important point for parents to share with their children is that this is how our electoral process works, and like it or not, it worked in 2016, even if the parent's vote didn't help to bring it about. But then, those parents would have to actually understand how the system works in this country, and sadly, a huge number do not.

  3. Chuck Lantz from 2007ac.com, 2017ac.com network replied, November 9, 2016 at 6:41 p.m.

    "the fact-checking columns for each candidate were terribly sad"?

    That statement deserves a bit of fact-checking, too; ...

    According to all the fact-checking columns and sites I've seen, the consensus was that Clinton and Sanders were both around 24% on the "fibs told" chart, with Clinton actually very slightly more honest than Bernie, while Trump fibbed a bit more than 70% of the time.

    Not that it matters at this point, but I hope it's still important to at least try to keep the record straight

  4. John Motavalli from Freelance, November 9, 2016 at 3:05 p.m.

    Adam, an excellent column. You articulated the total and complete failure of the news media very well here. There should be a clean sweep of all the idiots running these operations know. If there job was to report the news, instead of trying to influence it, they couldn't have performed worse. 

  5. Michael Pursel from Pursel Advertising, November 10, 2016 at 12:26 p.m.

    Adam, an excellent recap. I have been reading your columns here and yes you have been a free thinker, and looked at both sides of this media issue. Thank You.  A copy should be sent to Bob Garfield.  The utter disdain he showed in his columns for anyone who calls themselves a conservative is exactly why Trump won.  The media elite, and I've been around them for over 35 years, KNOW that the little people are stupid, and only THEY can provide the true answers and viewpoint.  But in the late 80's this Rush guy came along.. Bob and his crew at first considered them a distraction, but no threat.  Look at where we are today. You wonder why the liberal nets and commentators have trouble keeping up with FOX and Talk Radio?  Because 1/2 the country if not more are reasonable, common sense people that have always seen through their bovine residue, but we have been busy working, paying taxes, and have let the Bob's of the world rule.  I guess this week the line in the sand was finally drawn.  Enough is Enough.  Let's watch and see what great things will be accomplished.

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