The Media Learned Nothing From 2016

Still trying to stir controversy for clicks—insisting racism and sexism fueled Donald Trump's electoral win

BEDMINSTER TOWNSHIP, NJ - NOVEMBER 20: (L to R) Vice president-elect Mike Pence and president-elect Donald Trump leave the clubhouse following their meeting with Jonathan Gray, member of the Board of Directors at Blackstone, at Trump International Golf Club, November 20, 2016 in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence and President-elect Donald Trump. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The 2016 election was an embarrassment for the mainstream media. By and large, pundits, reporters and editors believed it to be a foregone conclusion that Hillary Clinton would win and become the first woman president.

I personally thought Clinton would win. Back in 2012, I was convinced that Mitt Romney would win because of the Tea Party uprising that gave Republicans back the House of Representatives, as well as the notion that the economy was not doing great under President Barack Obama and unemployment was still high. I thought there were enough people hurt and angry by the flailing Obama recovery that Romney would be the first person in two decades to defeat a sitting president.

Obviously, I was wrong. So when I heard or saw the complaints of Americans who supported Donald Trump in 2016, I thought there was no way there would be enough people in enough states that were angry enough to turn the election for Trump. I heard their concerns—the loss of jobs and stability and the feeling that coastal elites wrote them off—but I’ve seen the Left win time and time again despite such outrage. I didn’t believe the “silent majority” was a majority that would use their vote for change.

Obviously, I was wrong again. If I’ve learned anything in this election, it’s that the media is losing its grip on reality not just on a host of small issues but on nearly every issue. For years I thought I was still impervious to the so-called D.C. bubble, but apparently I have been sucked in.

While some members of the media discussed how badly the industry had read the electorate, many doubled down on the kinds of attacks that helped fuel Trump’s win. In 2016 more than previous presidential elections, the media—and Clinton—went after Trump’s supporters in what I guess was an attempt to shame them into voting against him. What they apparently never considered (or considered and disregarded) is that telling someone that what they believe is racist or sexist simply because they support a particular candidate that the media has deemed racist or sexist won’t change their vote.

No one who supported Trump because he spoke to the forgotten working class, who believed he would be able to bring back jobs and help their incomes rise, was going to accept that they were “deplorable” and their beliefs racist or sexist. None of these people saw the media insulting them and thought, Wait, it’s racist to want manufacturing jobs brought back to the U.S.? Well, I don’t want to be a racist, so I’ll vote for the woman who hasn’t said how she would help me.

And if the person were an actual racist or sexist, would they care if they were being called one?

Yet the media and the Clinton campaign tried repeatedly to brand anyone who supported Trump as two of the worst things imaginable. And they haven’t learned their lesson.

Liberal pundits and outlets continued to insist that Trump only won because racism is alive and well in America. The day after the election, Vox published articles titled “Donald Trump’s win tells people of color they aren’t welcome in America” and “Trump’s win is a reminder of the incredible, unbeatable power of racism.”

The Hill published an article titled “Racist America finding its voice in Trump election win.” The Guardian published one titled “How do I tell my daughter that America elected a racist, sexist bully?”

Twitter has been no better. On Sunday, one pundit claimed that if you look out you front door and see cows “you’re probably a racist.” I sure hope this man doesn’t eat anything grown or collected by these allegedly racist cow owners; otherwise, I’d be inclined to call him a hypocrite for supporting such alleged racism.

There were plenty of other tweets following these lines, insisting that Trump won because of racism or sexism and that the 60 million-plus people who voted for him were racist sexists. The problem for these accusations is that so many places that voted for Obama in 2008 and or 2012 flipped to Trump in 2016. Did these people suddenly become racist? Or, maybe, Obama didn’t deliver on his promises and they didn’t want four more years of his administration with Clinton.

It’s not just inaccuracy in accusing your fellow Americans of being vile; the media also continues to try and cause controversy by reporting every rumor surrounding Trump’s transition team in an effort to make appear as though it is in “chaos.” A selection of headlines over the past week:

“Trump Transition Chaos Claims Another Victim”

“Firings and Discord Put Trump Transition Team in a State of Disarray”

“Donald Trump’s Transition: Five Reasons Why Chaos Reigns on the Top Floor of Trump Tower”

The list goes on.

Some outlets—mostly right-leaning ones—are pointing out that it’s the media crying chaos, and that Trump’s transition is actually moving right along. NPR even published an article showing Trump’s pace of hiring is on track and actually ahead of many of his predecessors in naming staff. Trump has made four appointments so far. At this point in 2008, Obama had only named one, his chief of staff, but he did name Rahm Emanuel sooner than Trump named Reince Priebus. The only other recent president to have made four major appointments by this time after winning the election was George H.W. Bush.

Even former Obama adviser David Axelrod called the media out for its attempts to criticize Trump over staff appointments.

For Trump, it doesn’t matter who he picks for his administration, the media will criticize. Retired Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s choice for national security advisor, is a registered Democrat, but that hasn’t stopped the left from calling him anti-Islamic. Trump has also spoken to two female Democrats regarding the Department of Education, Eva Moskowitz (who declined to be a part of his administration) and Michelle Rhee. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also met with Trump, although it’s unclear whether she will be offered a cabinet position. I wonder what Democrats will say about her if she were to accept a position.

The media is still trying to bring Trump down. Its mischaracterizations and exaggerations helped win Trump the election, and if they keep this up, it might ensure he wins a second term. It’s going to be all too easy to point out how differently the press is treating Trump than it did Obama in 2008, when pretty much every article written about him after the election was about how wonderful and great he was (remember the fawning beach photos?).

Now the media is allegedly concerned with “fake news,” but without its own autopsy, the industry runs the danger of ensnaring itself in its own net.

Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.

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