The Times Struggles with Lessons from 2016 Election Debacle
Back in August, during the heat of the election, New York Times columnist Jim Rutenberg suggested that reporters could abandon their objectivity and engage in “oppositional” journalism, because then-candidate Donald Trump was “an abnormal and potentially dangerous candidate.” Now, as Trump’s inauguration approaches, Rutenberg writes that “what” the mainstream media “did right” during the election “has been less appreciated than it deserves.” The column is titled, “Lessons From 2016 for the News Media, as the Ground Shifts.”
“Faced with a precedent-shattering candidate who made false assertions at a rate none had seen before—one considerably higher than that of his opponent—reporters became more assertive in directly calling out falsehoods,” he writes. While Rutenberg is attempting to explain to the media the lessons of 2016, his lessons are not well-founded and are as partisan as those found in his column last summer.
Trump’s “false assertions” have generally been fairly minor and petty—or exaggerated by the media. For example, the linked Washington Post article claims that “anyone could find that the majority of Mexican immigrants are not, in fact, criminals and rapists.” But as James Simpson exposed in a special report for Accuracy in Media, illegal immigrants are committing disproportionately large numbers of crimes, including homicide and rape.
In contrast to Trump, Hillary Clinton’s lies are an attempt to cover for malfeasance, scandal, and corrupt conflicts of interest. She is the only U.S. secretary of state to have used a private, unsecure email server to conduct classified business for the Department of State. Yet she lied, repeatedly, about sending or receiving classified information through that server. She even lied about FBI Director James Comey’s email investigation in an interview she had with Fox News’ Chris Wallace—despite the fact that Comey’s comments were public and critical of her actions. And she lied when she suggested that what she did was no different than what Colin Powell did when he was secretary of state for George W. Bush.
In addition, Hillary Clinton’s connections to the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state reveal that she used her influence to benefit donors to the foundation time and again, raising the issue of pay-for-play, which her campaign vigorously denied. The Associated Press reported that “More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money—either personally or through companies or groups—to the Clinton Foundation.”
We have cited numerous examples of Hillary mixing her State Department business with donors and benefactors of both the Clinton Foundation, and the Clintons personally. Those include the Uranium One deal and the Skolkovo deal, both of which also benefitted Russia’s strategic interests. In arguing what the media did right, Rutenberg linked to a single New York Times article about the Uranium One deal, written a year and a half before the election, to show that the media had “dug into the interests of the Clinton Foundation’s foreign donors.” They didn’t dig very deep.
In addition, we have documented Hillary’s many lies about Benghazi, including who she blamed for the terrorist attack on the Special Mission Compound and CIA Annex that killed four Americans; what she told the family members when their loved ones’ bodies arrived back in the U.S.; what she knew about the flow of arms to al-Qaeda related groups in Libya, and whether or not she was aware of any of the hundreds of requests for additional security.
Trump must work to eliminate even the appearance of conflicts of interest. His supporters knew that they were voting for a businessman with vast holdings and interests worldwide, as Trump pointed out during his brief press availability with Don King on December 28, but it is nonetheless incumbent upon him to find a way to avoid profiting from decisions made by anyone in the U.S. government.
While The Washington Post’s analysis may have over-estimated the nature and quantity of Trump’s lies, the nefarious quality of Mrs. Clinton’s attempts at defensive cover-ups outweigh the caliber of any lies or inaccuracies from Trump.
In his lessons, Rutenberg continues to cite the “anger” of voters as a factor in Trump’s win. He writes that the mainstream media “generally failed to appreciate the power of the anger that ultimately decided the presidency.” In addition, he writes, the media were “overly hooked on polling that indicated a Hillary Clinton glide path, overly reliant on longtime sources…and too disconnected from too many workaday Americans.”
However, rather than ignore the alleged power of anger in this election, the media routinely sensationalized and emphasized the hate that Trump was supposedly fostering at every possible occasion. In fact, Politico reported the day before the election that “Trump stokes voter anger in final stretch,” describing Clinton in turn as giving “sunny platitudes.” A Daily Beast column stated that “Trump Will Go Away, but the Anger He’s Stirred Up Is Just Getting Started.” These are just a couple of the articles penned by a mainstream media obsessed with ensuring that Trump didn’t win.
“It’s our right and need to know about civic matters, fully, fairly and accurately, that is the public virtue in journalism and the sine qua non of democracy,” writes Patrick Maines, president of The Media Institute, for The Hill. “Although virtually all of the MSM violated this boundary in their frantic support of Clinton, some were worse than others.”
“But the very worst of the MSM in this regard were not the TV networks, broadcast or cable, but the two newspapers that dominate the news business, the New York Times and the Washington Post,” Maines asserts.
Rutenberg writes that the mainstream media “repeatedly underestimated Donald Trump, not to mention Bernie Sanders.” In reality, the mainstream media actively worked to stop both of these candidates. For example, a WikiLeaks email suggests that Donna Brazile, interim chair of the Democrat National Committee, leaked a CNN town hall question to Hillary Clinton and a question asked during the primary. “At the time of the debate and town hall, Brazile was a CNN contributor and vice chair of the Democratic National Committee,” reports Business Insider.
But the media complicity doesn’t end there. We have reported extensively on the corruption of the Democrat-Media Complex and how it assiduously worked to undermine Donald Trump and elevate presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“Of course, where one stands on press bias so often depends on where one sits politically,” writes Rutenberg. “Talk with a Clinton aide and you’ll inevitably hear that unfair news coverage was a big reason for her loss.”
The media’s double standard against Trump in this election became obvious to anyone who was paying attention. No amount of equivocation could have disguised how these powerful media manipulators worked hand-in-glove with Democrats in an attempt to swing this election.
Here are some lessons the media should learn. Report the news objectively, become less reliant on polls, confine your opinions and support for your candidates to the editorial and op-ed pages. Then the voters will decide on their own who to vote for, and the news media might gain some badly needed respect.
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