The problem is real news, not fake news

Love this post from Yglesias.  Yes, fake news is a problem, but I almost feel like “real” news has been using it as a scapegoat to largely ignore their own, far more important, failings in the recent election:

Clinton’s campaign did have a real news problem, but the problem was with the real news coverage — coverage that dwelled overwhelmingly on a bullshit email server scandal, devoted far fewer resources to investigating Trump’s shady foundation than Clinton’s lifesaving one, largely ignored Trump’s financial conflicts of interest, and almost entirely avoided discussion of the policy stakes in the campaign.

Trump ended the campaign as he began it — unpopular and viewed as unqualified by a majority of voters, with no amount of fake news stories to puff him up succeeding in moving the needle. But Clinton, who began the 2016 cycle with reasonably high favorable numbers, saw them crater under a torrent of email stories with 45 percent of voters telling exit pollsters they were bothered “a lot” by her decision to forgo a state.gov email address, of which 86 percent voted for Trump.

Whether journalists want to be proud or ashamed of the work done by mainstream press during the campaign is up to them, but it was perfectly normal stories in normal outlets that moved the needle in a major way — fake news was a total sideshow…

Clinton’s campaign did have a real news problem, but the problem was with the real news coverage — coverage that dwelled overwhelmingly on a bullshit email server scandal, devoted far fewer resources to investigating Trump’s shady foundation than Clinton’s lifesaving one, largely ignored Trump’s financial conflicts of interest, and almost entirely avoided discussion of the policy stakes in the campaign.

Trump ended the campaign as he began it — unpopular and viewed as unqualified by a majority of voters, with no amount of fake news stories to puff him up succeeding in moving the needle. But Clinton, who began the 2016 cycle with reasonably high favorable numbers, saw them crater under a torrent of email stories with 45 percent of voters telling exit pollsters they were bothered “a lot” by her decision to forgo a state.gov email address, of which 86 percent voted for Trump.

Whether journalists want to be proud or ashamed of the work done by mainstream press during the campaign is up to them, but it was perfectly normal stories in normal outlets that moved the needle in a major way — fake news was a total sideshow…

The sum total of this media coverage — real stories based on editorial decisions about how to weight and present real facts — was to give the public the impression that two similarly ethically flawed candidates were running against each other in an election with low policy stakes. The reporters and editors responsible for that coverage can reasonably (if a bit absurdly) consider themselves proud of the work that led the public to that conclusion, or they can consider themselves ashamed of it. But the idea that voters were moved by fake stories about the pope rather than all-too-real ones about email servers is a preposterous evasion. [emphasis mine]

Yes, 1000 times, yes.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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