Editor’s Note: Thought it would be interesting to go back almost four years and post this election 2016 article about how the media was already distorting the news after Trump became the duly elected President of the United States. The mainstream media, left/liberal or otherwise, always has a political agenda (not a journalistic one) to serve their corporate/elite masters. These media distortions, and their pursuit of “fake news”, aligns only with their preordained narrative. This has left the mainstream media with no credibility whatsoever.
By Tom Basile
It’s been a little more than a month since an election that was the kind of seismic event in our politics that only happens once a century. It sent shock waves through the national political establishment and pretty much any other group of prognosticators that had been banking on an easy Clinton win. No one felt the sting more than the mainstream media. The morning after the election, anchors and columnists were making a collective stammering Act of Contrition about just how “wrong” they were about the election – and the electorate.
But in the month since, the so-called mainstream media have, as if in coordinated fashion, executed a transparent strategy to bludgeon the president-elect at every turn. Republicans, Conservatives, Independents and the majority of Americans who actually want to give Donald Trump a chance to lead will likely see through this anti-Trump propaganda campaign, but perhaps a review of their strategy is instructive at this point.
Media outlets have again shown they are doubling down on the same strategy that has driven their own approval ratings close to – dare I say – Congressional territory. That’s right. Survey after survey finds the same media that has made beating up conservatives, Republicans and religious institutions an industry has seen their tactics boomerang on them. Even actor Denzel Washington blasted the media last week saying that, “One of the effects of “too much information is the need to be first, not even to be true anymore.”
Hope for better isn’t a strategy and change isn’t coming. Here’s the anti-Trump plan of attack in all its banality. Some of these elements will have a shelf life. Some will be part of a prolonged effort. The strategy has several key components that have quickly taken shape over the last few weeks.
First, they are advancing a strategy of attempting to tie the president-elect and his team to the so-called “alt-right” and neo-Nazi, white supremacist lunatics. Despite Trump and his transition team issuing multiple statements denouncing the activities of a number of groups, the media still provided hours of coverage to small pockets of hate groups that used the election as a recruiting tool.
A sub-component to this was advancing a message that the country was in turmoil in the days after the election because of widespread protests against the newly-elected president. Even Fox News put a graphic on the screen that proclaimed there was “Anarchy in America.” Again, more sensationalized information that only bares a faint resemblance to the truth.
Yes, there were protests in a number of cities as well as sit-ins and cry-ins on college campuses filled with whiny young people who have little grasp on the realities of life. But to suggest that there is widespread discontent and a surge in the size, number and strength of hate groups in this country who are supposedly empowered by the Trump campaign or aligned with the president-elect is nonsense. Incidents that qualify as hate crimes, like racist graffiti did spike after the election, but a real, honest analysis of these events will show that a sustained, coordinated grassroots movement against American pluralistic values and racial tolerance is not developing.
This is what happens when you try to stretch 10 minutes of news into 24 hours of coverage.
Third, the press have pushed several key messages to delegitamize the president-elect. Let’s take them in order. First, the media is aggressively driving the narrative that Trump didn’t win the popular vote. This part of the playbook was dusted off from George W. Bush’s 2000 election. Of course the big brains in the media never mention to their readers and viewers the simple fact that the Electoral College – whatever you might think about it – dictates the strategy of national elections. If you ran a popular vote strategy, you’d run a completely different campaign in terms of allocation of time and resources. The game is not winning the popular vote, like it or not.
Further, there is no evidence that had the campaigns executed a popular vote strategy that Clinton would have won. Actually to the contrary, given the marked enthusiasm deficit on the Democrat side, Trump would likely have mobilized more voters from his states than Clinton would have in hers. Also, keep in mind that Clinton did have a robust turnout operation in key urban and suburban districts where she needed to perform well with her base. She still under-performed in those places that also would have been critical to a popular vote victory.
The press has weaved the issue into the coverage repeatedly using the phony recounts in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as an excuse to mention the popular vote margin. Naturally, they’ve spent little time acknowledging that Hillary Clinton lost or under-performed President Obama in almost every single demographic group that mattered – including women.
The second way they are seeking to delegitamize Trump is pushing the notion that something called “fake news” was actually the reason why Trump won the election. The “fake news” claim is perhaps the most offensive, but naturally many in the media have been tone deaf about it. “Fake news” is real. It is generated by websites, aggregators and email list-serves that blast out stories on social media and other online platforms of dubious credibility. We’ve all seen them. They specialize in click-bait for folks who feed off of red meat politics. Headlines like “Obama to ban Pledge of Allegiance,” or “Clinton Accused of Being Pedophile,” are the kinds of stories that drive traffic to these sites.
The mainstream news media would like people to believe that so many people actually thought enough of these stories were credible that the impact threw the election to Donald Trump.
Denial is a terrible thing. Even more so, what is highlighted by this strategy is their elitism and continuing disdain for the average person. Sure I often accuse politicians of all political stripes of underestimating the intelligence of the average voter, but this line of attack against the legitimacy of the election takes the cake. Whenever you read a “real news” story about “fake news” remember, the editors who decided to create space in news cycle for that piece think millions of Americans are just to dumb to realize when something is so outrageous, it can’t be all true. This attitude on the part of the media is, of course, an extension of their general political philosophy that suggests people are too stupid to make their own decisions about how big their soda should be or how much salt to use in their food. These are the same folks who believe that the government is the solution to all problems domestically and can do no right when it comes to foreign or military policy.
Finally, in recent days the idea that Russia, through electronic espionage and “fake news,” helped tip the scales in Trump’s favor is the latest method of not only de-legitimizing Trump but also suggesting that Trump is in some way a Manchurian Candidate who will be controlled by Vladimir Putin. No one should ever put anything past Putin, particularly after the Obama foreign policy has allowed his power and influence to grow unchecked. But to suggest that Clinton would have won, but for this alleged interference is as credible as, well, fake news.
Oh wait – I forgot the new charge that Trump’s appointment of former generals to several cabinet and senior posts is evidence of his desire to abrogate civilian leadership of the country and institute a full-scale militarization of the federal government. That was a new one over the last few days.
Then of course, are the photos and video clips intentionally curated and placed by editors in mainstream reporting that show Trump making silly, mean or grotesque faces. The media did this to Bush constantly. Back then the word in news rooms was to make him look as stupid and confused as possible in photos and video.
So a month after the feigned apologies for getting it all wrong, the media has telegraphed clearly their strategy for the next four years. Perhaps we should thank them for being so transparent. Like Democrats during the campaign who chose to talk more about transgender bathrooms than job creation for the middle class, the media that stretches to such lengths to hurt the incoming president may well continue to lose public support. For ordinary Americans just looking for real, balanced news and analysis, it looks like we’ll be out in the cold again.