Don’t blame the election on fake news. Blame it on the media.
December 8, 2017 9:37 PM   Subscribe

The Columbia Journalism Review did an analysis of election 2016 election coverage and found "the various Clinton-related email scandals—her use of a private email server while secretary of state, as well as the DNC and John Podesta hacks—accounted for more sentences than all of Trump’s scandals combined (65,000 vs. 40,000) and more than twice as many as were devoted to all of her policy positions." Meanwhile"the breathlessly repeated numbers on fake news are not as large as they have been made to seem when compared to the volume of information to which online users are exposed."

From the CJR piece:

"For example, a New York Times story reported that Facebook identified more than 3,000 ads purchased by fake accounts traced to Russian sources, which generated over $100,000 in advertising revenue. But Facebook’s advertising revenue in the fourth quarter of 2016 was $8.8 billion, or $96 million per day. All together, the fake ads accounted for roughly 0.1 percent of Facebook’s daily advertising revenue. The 2016 BuzzFeed report that received so much attention claimed that the top 20 fake news stories on Facebook “generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments” between August 1 and Election Day. Again, this sounds like a large number until it’s put into perspective: Facebook had well over 1.5 billion active monthly users in 2016. If each user took only a single action per day on average (likely an underestimate), then throughout those 100 days prior to the election, the 20 stories in BuzzFeed’s study would have accounted for only 0.006 percent of user actions."

"Roughly four times as many Clinton-related sentences that described scandals as opposed to policies, whereas Trump-related sentences were one-and-a-half times as likely to be about policy as scandal. Given the sheer number of scandals in which Trump was implicated—sexual assault; the Trump Foundation; Trump University; redlining in his real-estate developments; insulting a Gold Star family; numerous instances of racist, misogynist, and otherwise offensive speech—it is striking that the media devoted more attention to his policies than to his personal failings. Even more striking, the various Clinton-related email scandals—her use of a private email server while secretary of state, as well as the DNC and John Podesta hacks—accounted for more sentences than all of Trump’s scandals combined (65,000 vs. 40,000) and more than twice as many as were devoted to all of her policy positions."

"In just six days, The New York Times ran as many cover stories about Hillary Clinton’s emails as they did about all policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election."

Jill Filopivich points out how prominent Glenn Thrush, Mark Halperin, Charlie Rose, and Matt Lauer were in covering the election and notes that "a pervasive theme of all of these men’s coverage of Mrs. Clinton was that she was dishonest and unlikable. These recent harassment allegations suggest that perhaps the problem wasn’t that Mrs. Clinton was untruthful or inherently hard to connect with, but that these particular men hold deep biases against women who seek power instead of sticking to acquiescent sex-object status."
posted by mrmurbles (35 comments total) 66 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have a lot to say, but also kind of want to curl up and die. The number of times I argued with men on the right AND the left that their disdain of Clinton was fueled by garden variety sexism made me lose faith in men. I remember the sheer disappointment as a good liberal friend who often managed to be far left of me, telling me that he “just didn’t like her” and called her “shrill”. I called him on it, and he had admitted how it did sound just like something someone with that biased sexism would say. He said he’d have to think on it. And he still voted 3rd Party.

America, your sexism got us the disaster show that is Trump. Good fucking job. Thank you again, America, for reminding me how much you really hate me.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 10:18 PM on December 8, 2017 [116 favorites]


The press is the de facto government.

-- My dad, when he was a politician.
posted by klanawa at 10:20 PM on December 8, 2017 [5 favorites]


It was shocking how much catastrophizing I saw everywhere over the email story, which was a ho hum garden variety failure of government infosec. The first thing any competent computer security professional learns is that throwing up too many roadblocks to usability results in your clients breaking all of your rules just to make their own lives easier. That's ALL this story was. From the beginning. No more, no less.

(It should be noted that the press had a similar grudge against Al Gore, which unfairly treated him as stiff and egotistical while Bush was just a folksy guy you'd love to have a beer with while playing bocce ball in the campaign airplane aisles. Fuck the media.)
posted by xyzzy at 10:38 PM on December 8, 2017 [52 favorites]


This is a great first post (might want to add a firstpost tag ;).)

It's difficult to process that it all needs to be addressed: political funding, the media bias, the ascendency of far-right extremism, and on top of that, the everyday sexism we're stewing in.
posted by Start with Dessert at 10:45 PM on December 8, 2017 [8 favorites]


A horse race is better ratings, so Trump got propped up. He's always been good for the network's bottom line, and his campaign was their biggest cash in yet.

I wish this point was made more often, but I can understand why the media (TV, cable news, tabloids, radio, all of it) would avoid the subject. They spent 40 years helping Trump build his brand. They made him. He owes everything to them, and they are directly responsible for his electoral victory. This wasn't just a temporary suspension of accountable journalism. The water carrying goes back decades.
posted by Beholder at 11:06 PM on December 8, 2017 [26 favorites]


A horse race is better ratings, so Trump got propped up. He's always been good for the network's bottom line, and his campaign was their biggest cash in yet.

Yes. The media (for the most part all of it, left, right, partisan, attempted nonpartisan) is awful at any self-reflection or taking responsibility for what they do.

Trump was good at exploiting the media's weaknesses, but they fell for his every trick, again and again. Unlike his opponents, he *never* had a policy narrative, or cared about policy, or would talk about policy, or even has his surrogates do it. But that really didn't matter to the media; policy discussions are 'boring'. What's super interesting is calling someone "low energy", and making up crazy nicknames for all of your opponents. And the media dutifully reinforced all of this name calling by 'reporting' on it.

If the media was doing its job, Trump would have never gotten the nomination.

So, the media blames 'fake news', 'low information voters' (although that's not dwelled upon too much; how did they become 'low information'?), Fox News (who wears their agenda on their sleeve, bless their hearts), the Russians; but never themselves.

And no, this isn't new: the invasion of Iraq, the invasion of Panama, the invasion of Granada; none of these would have been possible without the press failing to do its very job (oh, and there are so many more invasions to list here).

This one is a bit more interesting because the press got played by folks that weren't already in power. Trump isn't a brilliant man, but his media instincts are very effective. The Onion has probably discussed this a bit, the 'funny' thing about the media getting played by Trump is that they realize real-time that it is occurring. They know he is 'distracting' them and setting their agenda with his antics.

But the ratings are good.

Even if we figure out how to prevent some overt meddling by the Russians (and wow, do we ever meddle in other countries internal politics - but that's another discussion), figure out how to spot/prevent/fix 'fake news' (absolute fabrications by non-media entities pretending to be the media), we won't be in a position to prevent a repeat of a Trump situation until we fix the media.

And that's a story the media just won't cover.
posted by el io at 11:50 PM on December 8, 2017 [31 favorites]


How do you even disentangle Trump's scandal's from his policies? Presumably you count 'build a wall along the Mexican border' as a policy topic, but the coverage I recall was pretty much 'It's incredibly dishonest to claim Mexico will pay for it, that it would even help US unemployment, is basically racist to boot, and Mexican immigration has become net negative anyways.'

Same with the 'tax cuts will get us 4 percent growth and pay for themselves' horseshit theory that tanked Kansas, the 'defunding the EPA will bring back coal jobs' pitch when natural gas is clearly the major threat, or the 'trade deficits mean we're losing at trade' confusion. The policies are a scandal. If Clinton had said she'd institute a $20/hr minimum wage and was going to make China pay for it, I imagine there'd be a shift in the coverage portfolio.
posted by pwnguin at 12:11 AM on December 9, 2017 [3 favorites]


Yeah, this. Nice work by Faris and coworkers to analyze the data.

I don't think the 'mainstream' media are deliberately pointing at flat-out faked news in order to divert attention from their much higher-volume failures, I think they're just pointing at what's juicier to talk about. But it has that effect of diverting attention.
posted by away for regrooving at 12:18 AM on December 9, 2017 [1 favorite]


> we won't be in a position to prevent a repeat of a Trump situation until we fix the media.
But to fix the media you'll have to challenge the maxim of shareholder value maximization as the sole purpose of the corporation. You'll have to think the unthinkable.
posted by runcifex at 12:19 AM on December 9, 2017 [13 favorites]


> The policies are a scandal.
For Trump and his base, the arguments are flipped. Trump's scandals are his policy.
posted by runcifex at 12:21 AM on December 9, 2017 [4 favorites]


The hilarious bit is that they're still doing it. Part of the reason the tax bill managed to get rammed through is that the media couldn't hold off on breathlessly reporting the latest Mueller developments and idiot tweets and rehashing Moore yet again despite a lack of new news in such volume that there was any oxygen left over for the tax bill to penetrate the psyche of those who aren't plugged in.

And the amount of horse race bullshit that continues to air and be printed is nothing short of astonishing when the failures are so clear.

It doesn't help that most people who actually care are getting the information, so it isn't obvious as it's happening that the important stuff isn't making it into print. There was as much great reporting as ever in 2016. The problem is more with the editorial decision to avoid coverage of actual issues and our own difficulty in policing this shit in real time since few people who are the most prolific consumers of news and/or care enough to complain take print editions any more. (Allowing blatantly sexist writing to run without comment is another obvious problem, but that isn't the topic at hand in this specific post)
posted by wierdo at 12:28 AM on December 9, 2017 [7 favorites]


Hm, limiting the scope to written material may be a big limitation. Their data set is "stories about the election discovered by searching the Media Cloud archive and spidering the open web" and "stories about the election discovered by harvesting urls from tweets relevant to the election".

Did the researchers' poor grad students watch videos and analyze their sentences, where videos were the main payload of a URL? There's no mention of that. How many people read the texts, versus how many watched video clips? Facebook would know for their site... We know there's sure a lot of video-watching these days, and the conventional wisdom is they're highly effective at influencing people's attitudes. And bigger exposure than Internet video clips, there's a huge amount of hours going to TV and radio shows that 'cover' the election as hybrid news/opinion, current topics with attitude, ranting heads, etc. That's the majority of Fox when I randomly sample from it in airports, and I can't say it's not a majority of CNN likewise. That's the soul of right-wing talk radio. People soak in this all day.

I can hardly blame the researchers for not transcribing every word of Rush Limbaugh and coding every image from ugly videos, but if they could sample this, I wonder what effect it would have on the conclusions. My fallible intuition is that it would increase the fraction of objective non-facts we see affecting people, versus affecting them with skewed coverage levels of true facts and true quotations of misleading utterances.
posted by away for regrooving at 12:53 AM on December 9, 2017 [3 favorites]


Even if we figure out how to prevent some overt meddling by the Russians (and wow, do we ever meddle in other countries internal politics - but that's another discussion)

Let's just admit that the Cold War continues, except now we all eat at the same fast food restaurants, and watch the same TV shows, and use the same cell phones. Cultural lines blur, but everyone still wants a bigger slice of the resource pie. From a geopolitical standpoint, Trump's electoral victory is Karma.
posted by Beholder at 1:31 AM on December 9, 2017 [1 favorite]


Therein lies the rub. The media was largely responsible for the current POTUS who then attacks what critical reporting exists of himself as fake news. We're trapped between the devil and the deep; if one argues that the media are correct in their political analysis then the bad press HRC got is legitimized. If one argues that the media disproportionately sensationalized Clinton's blunders, then Trump's idiocy can be minimized by the deplorables as well. The truth may be much more nuanced, but subtlety doesn't sell, unfortunately.
posted by dazed_one at 1:46 AM on December 9, 2017 [6 favorites]


I do think the content editors for the NYTimes and Washington Post are either absolutely terrible at their job or evil. Headlines change all day, seemingly testing whether different more deceptive or opinionated headlines drove more traffic. Articles are updated without any notes that they were changed. It has become almost impossible to determine if a headline is an editorial or news reporting. There’s no obvious feed to track developing stories or simply see what stories were posted or updated most recently. Every single statement or move by a politician is immediately examined for motivation, not for effect. The reporting on developing bills is fucking terrifying. No newspaper appears to have legal analysis reporters so every report on a bill is “politician A said the bill does this but lobbyist B says it does this!” with zero reference to the language of the laws of fact based reporting. If they do feature actual analysis it will be segregated in its own article and not discussed in the main news articles.

Fortunately for us these papers, the NYTimes especially, refuse to do even the slightest bit of soul searching (see the Nazi puff piece two weeks ago). They either are so egotistical they can’t see how shitty they are or they don’t care because it’s by design. The elimination of all the ombudsman positions is just the icing on the “we don’t give a fuck what you think” cake.
posted by cyphill at 6:31 AM on December 9, 2017 [7 favorites]


> Headlines change all day, seemingly testing whether different more deceptive or opinionated headlines drove more traffic.
This is called A/B testing.
> They either are so egotistical they can’t see how shitty they are or they don’t care because it’s by design.
It's both. To paraphrase Upton Sinclair, it is difficult to get them to understand something, when their income cash flow depends on not understanding it.
posted by runcifex at 6:49 AM on December 9, 2017 [8 favorites]


Fortunately for us these papers, the NYTimes especially, refuse to do even the slightest bit of soul searching (see the Nazi puff piece two weeks ago). They either are so egotistical they can’t see how shitty they are or they don’t care because it’s by design. The elimination of all the ombudsman positions is just the icing on the “we don’t give a fuck what you think” cake.

Why would they bother? NY Times subscriptions doubled in 2016.

They're the only ones to benefit from this shitstorm.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:16 AM on December 9, 2017 [1 favorite]


The number of times I argued with men on the right AND the left that their disdain of Clinton was fueled by garden variety sexism made me lose faith in men.

THIS. The creeping realization in 2016 that not only was sexism still alive and well (I already knew that), but that it was much, much worse and more deeply ingrained than I'd realized was absolutely stunning. Stunning. And not in a good way.
posted by triggerfinger at 8:06 AM on December 9, 2017 [31 favorites]


I totally contend that the one key player that put Trump into the running was, take a beat, CNN.

That the "liberal" network's obsession with heavy rotation of what was essentially a meme about Trump brought the cultural awareness from a joke candidacy to something that triggered early primary protest votes. Then the OMG factor just kept the ball rolling. If they had just hung up on the early call in's from Trump, his effort would have withered.
posted by sammyo at 8:59 AM on December 9, 2017 [2 favorites]


The creeping realization in 2016 that not only was sexism still alive and well (I already knew that), but that it was much, much worse and more deeply ingrained than I'd realized was absolutely stunning. Stunning. And not in a good way.

I have pointed out before, if you examine the election result cross tabs you will see that Clinton lost ground compared to Obama with white men, African American men, and Hispanic men. With women she held her own or did better than Obama. It's pretty clear what happened. And men like Glenn Thrush, Mark Halperin, Charlie Rose, and Matt Lauer, who drove the narrative, were a part of that. The email obsession was just the convenient vehicle for their sexism.
posted by JackFlash at 9:32 AM on December 9, 2017 [37 favorites]


I fear we will collectively forget how blatantly unfair the media were in the last election. Let Trump call in all the time and don’t challenge him? Sure, great ratings. Did Clinton misspeak on something, anything? Scold her repeatedly and don’t forget to preface all coverage with “Her emails, her emails, her emails!!!”

Hope all y’all enjoy your fucking good ratings.
posted by sfkiddo at 9:56 AM on December 9, 2017 [5 favorites]


And the so-called liberal media was laughing about their self-interest even at the time. CBS head said this in February 2016: Les Moonves: Trump's run is 'damn good for CBS'

Donald Trump’s candidacy might not be making America great, CBS Chairman Les Moonves
said Monday, but it’s great for his company.

"It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS," Moonves said at the Morgan
Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco, according to The
Hollywood Reporter — perfectly distilling what media critics have long suspected was
motivating the round-the-clock coverage of Trump's presidential bid.

"Most of the ads are not about issues. They're sort of like the debates," Moonves said,
noting, "[t]here's a lot of money in the marketplace."

The 2016 campaign is a "circus," he remarked, but "Donald's place in this election is a good
thing."

"Man, who would have expected the ride we're all having right now? ... The money's rolling
in and this is fun," Moonves went on. "I've never seen anything like this, and this going to be
a very good year for us. Sorry. It's a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep
going.”
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 10:40 AM on December 9, 2017 [8 favorites]


"Did the researchers' poor grad students watch videos and analyze their sentences, where videos were the main payload of a URL?"

There is no mention of video media in this article, let alone 'non-mainstream' media, which is fine, that's not the analysis they are doing (have to have some scope to a study).

It's a different critique that outside of the focus of videos, television news very often does not contain news. By 'news', I mean new information, or specifically, actual reporting. It seems to me the vast majority of 'news' is analysis, or worse, sets of talking heads arguing among themselves. This 'content' is nearly free to produce, creates drama, and is pretty close to 'noise'. It leads to a large majority of 'low information voters', even if they consider themselves well informed. I mean, if you watch an hour or two of 'news' every day, why wouldn't you think you are informed?

But as this article points out, even if you gravitate towards 'hard news' you will try to desperately suss out actual discussions of policies. Which means that even if you read the NYTimes, Washington Post, etc, you will probably not be given any meaningful understanding of any policy positions, let alone an analysis of the potential impact of those policies.

So whats the impact of new organizations (a term I use loosely, but putting quotes around 'news' all the time seems a bit much) not reporting on the policies of either candidates? The public is much less inclined to understand that Clinton *had* policies, where Trump really had none. This is a pretty dramatic situation. The other Republican candidates (which I disagree with philosophically, and on most every policy issue) actually *had* policies as well - but this didn't matter during the primary.

It's hard to imagine that Trump would have ever won the Republican primary if every question just circled back to policies and the reporters simply did not report on slogans and meaningless positions that didn't translate to policies.

Circling back to a current race, what if the media started asking Moore 'so, you say you are against abortion, what specific legislation are you going to introduce to reflect those views, and how will you do it in a way that isn't going to be ruled unconstitutional', and similarly grilled him on all of his positions - 'how will this position translate into legislation and actual policy'. If that was scrutinized carefully enough perhaps his army of single-issue voters would realize that him being anti-abortion doesn't really mean jack shit as a senator. But I have yet to see a news article regarding any policy positions or potential legislation that Moore would champion. Instead there are countless articles about notations next to a yearbook entry; this reporting isn't going to change anyones minds, or even inform anyone in a meaningful way.

My critiques don't aren't really aimed at individual reporters - said reporters do a relatively competent job at the NYT/Washpost/etc, but they are assigned to stories that are essentially *noise* (don't get me wrong, the original reporting on Moore that was done was fine investigative work).
posted by el io at 12:46 PM on December 9, 2017 [8 favorites]


Glad this got reported and published. In all the new horrors of fake news etc it's important to remember what a shit hole the old fashioned news was and is. I appreciate the explicit foregrounding of male bias against Clinton in the Times opinion piece too.

I think that this type of garbage election coverage, meaningless and breathless and repetitive fixation on irrelevant details instead of, for example, educating the public on the politicians actual voting records or economic incentives, is a big reason why so much of the public is completely fed up with traditional politics, which in my opinion is a significant reason why so many people on the right voted Trump, and so many on the left who previously were happy with more centrist candidates went for Sanders. (It's up to one's personal politics whether there are positive aspects to this shift.) In any case, elections are covered by the media as meaningless and that helps make them more meaningless and the public sees this.
posted by latkes at 1:15 PM on December 9, 2017 [3 favorites]


Harvard did something similar to this after the election with the same results, but it was completely dismissed on both sides (with the detractors on the left coming from where you'd expect).

Why would they bother? NY Times subscriptions doubled in 2016.

I was one of those who went on a subscription-purchasing spree post-election, but the NYT was purposely not one of the papers I added. They've never been able to cover anyone named "Clinton" in a sane manner since the 1990s (see: the continued employment of Maureen Dowd). This was pretty well-recognized in the early-2000s, but by 2016 I think there was a large chunk of the population who saw "New York Times" and assumed they could count on its news editors to not be foaming at the mouth. They've got good information coming from the White House, courtesy of Haberman & Co, but the ongoing fuckups like "Nazis Like Muffins" leave me bowing at the altar of Our Lord And Savior Martin Baron.

I have a lot to say, but also kind of want to curl up and die.

Yeah I am going to try to restrain myself to reading the comments, because I am afraid if I start writing down my thoughts then I will start screaming until I pass out and then keep screaming in my dreams.
posted by schroedinger at 1:41 PM on December 9, 2017 [6 favorites]


I sure wish that The League of Women Voters had just half the influence it used to have. They used to host the debates instead of media companies for goodness sakes! Why did they fade away?
If you read about the kind of influence they used to have in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s in the above link you'd see their helpful influence. Men, media, money: the killers of any semblance of careful weighing of issues and careful treatment of subject matter [among many other things]. I understand that many if not all the prominent suffragettes [and of LoWV] were racists for many decades and I feel sick because of that. I just wish that whatever good they *did* bring had a chance to return. :'(
posted by RuvaBlue at 5:13 PM on December 9, 2017 [6 favorites]


Why did they fade away?
In 1988, the League of Women Voters withdrew its sponsorship of the presidential debates after the George H. W. Bush and Michael Dukakis campaigns secretly agreed to a "memorandum of understanding" that would decide which candidates could participate in the debates, which individuals would be panelists (and therefore able to ask questions), and the height of the lecterns. The League rejected the demands and released a statement saying that it was withdrawing support for the debates because "the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter."
Now a conspiracy between the two parties bipartisan nonprofit runs the debates.
posted by el io at 6:30 PM on December 9, 2017 [4 favorites]


Jill Filopivich points out how prominent Glenn Thrush, Mark Halperin, Charlie Rose, and Matt Lauer were in covering the election and notes that "a pervasive theme of all of these men’s coverage of Mrs. Clinton was that she was dishonest and unlikable. These recent harassment allegations suggest that perhaps the problem wasn’t that Mrs. Clinton was untruthful or inherently hard to connect with, but that these particular men hold deep biases against women who seek power instead of sticking to acquiescent sex-object status."

Which would have had some credence to it, except Clinton won the popular vote, meaning that there was something else at play. I used to box, and the one thing you have to remember when fighting is to keep your guard up, and she didn't, losing key states that would have put her over the top. If you don't keep your guard up, even the most mediocre fighter is going to pummel an excellent fighter. It doesn't matter if the contest is chess, go, boxing, war, or a political campaign, if you think it's all about striking, and not protecting your interests, you are done.

You can't vote-shame people, but you can get votes if you promise them something tangible, like jobs. I saw she was going to lose a mile away, but people thought I was being naive. Bill Clinton managed to win with the odds against him by using the jobs card: it's the economy, stupid...are you better off now than you were four years ago, etc.

People didn't vote for Trump because Matt Lauer or Glenn Thrush covertly told them to vote for them, or because almost every newspaper editorial the nation endorsed Clinton. They were white noise.

The fact that point was never considered makes that CJR article flawed to the point of farce.

The news media's clout has collapsed, and they are still going by the old rules and order in a chaotic new world. They are no longer the gate-keepers because of social media, and their own arrogance in thinking the old rules were absolute, infinite, and eternal did them in.

That era is gone, and the election was a referendum on the press's clout, and they lost. I could write a book all about it...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 6:33 PM on December 9, 2017 [2 favorites]


You can't vote-shame people, but you can get votes if you promise them something tangible, like jobs. I saw she was going to lose a mile away, but people thought I was being naive. Bill Clinton managed to win with the odds against him by using the jobs card: it's the economy, stupid...are you better off now than you were four years ago, etc.

Funny you should say that because by far the single most-frequently-occuring word in Hillary Clinton's speeches was... jobs.

But how could you or anyone else possibly know that when the media covered her "scandals" 4 to 1 over her policy?

And of course the fact that she won the popular vote doesn't mean media was ineffective -- who knows by how much more she could have won by with fairer coverage?
posted by mrmurbles at 7:19 PM on December 9, 2017 [13 favorites]


But how could you or anyone else possibly know that when the media covered her "scandals" 4 to 1 over her policy?

Then don't leave it to the media, cover policy in political ads.
posted by edeezy at 7:26 PM on December 9, 2017 [1 favorite]


Trump was good at exploiting the media's weaknesses, but they fell for his every trick, again and again. Unlike his opponents, he *never* had a policy narrative, or cared about policy, or would talk about policy, or even has his surrogates do it.

Which was great for much of the media, because they didn't want to talk about it either. They perceive that policy stories turn readers off, and more importantly, they're hard and require actual expertise. Any lazy hack can write a horse race story full of he-said, she-said, and it's no coincidence that that's what we got.
posted by Gelatin at 7:32 AM on December 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


The Opinionator
All this adds up to the sort of categorical disaster that a good editor and steward of the most important opinion page in American letters should be capable of staving off. Fortunately for Brooks, he doesn’t have such an editor. He has James Bennet, a man whom former Times op-ed veteran Leah Finnegan has described (speaking of reality television) as “the Spencer Pratt of opinion journalism.” “This guy loves to troll, and position his writers as martyrs for their bad opinions,” writes Finnegan. “He also seems kinda bad at the basics of his job (writing and making sure facts are correct).”

So how did it come to this?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:00 AM on December 10, 2017


The Columbia Journalism Review did an analysis of election 2016 election coverage and found "the various Clinton-related email scandals—her use of a private email server while secretary of state, as well as the DNC and John Podesta hacks—accounted for more sentences than all of Trump’s scandals combined (65,000 vs. 40,000) and more than twice as many as were devoted to all of her policy positions."

No. Fucking. Kidding.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:49 PM on December 10, 2017 [2 favorites]


They were white noise.

Do you really believe people made their decision on who to support separate from what was in the media they consumed?
posted by schroedinger at 6:42 PM on December 10, 2017 [3 favorites]


Some people have this strange belief that most voters get their information other than from traditional news media of some sort or another. There's plenty of noise on social media, yes, but most of what gets shared and engaged with on Facebook is MSM stuff.

This idea that the Clinton campaign was incompetent is ridiculous, but isn't itself relevant so I'll refrain from going on a rant about why.
posted by wierdo at 12:58 AM on December 11, 2017 [3 favorites]


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