Politics

The Mainstream Media Frenzy Post-Debate

Once again, the punditry rushes to proclaim Trump's demise

After the first presidential debate on Monday night, a feeding frenzy commenced.

Anti-Trump journalists and pundits let loose on social media and television. Some of the bashing of the GOP nominee was over the top; more of it, wishful thinking.

Interestingly enough, Slate’s own readers seemed to think Donald Trump had it. In a survey on that site of who won the contest, Trump topped Clinton 55 to 45 percent.

Sidestepping predictions of doom from pundits in the media has become something of a hallmark of Trump’s presidential bid.

But a past mountain of disproved Trump-demise predictions didn’t stop the media frenzy Tuesday.

“Trump’s Debate Performance Was the Worst Ever,” declared a headline on Howard Fineman’s story on The Huffington Post.

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“Republican nominee Donald Trump turned in the worst — and I mean worst — debate performance in modern times. It was so bad that in a normal year, it would disqualify him from getting anywhere near the White House,” wrote Fineman, a longtime journalist and a liberal pundit on MSNBC.

Fineman must have been shocked to learn Trump walloped Clinton 66 to 34 percent in a poll of who won the debate posted on the website of MSNBC’s business-oriented sister station CNBC.

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Excited liberals and lefties said Trump was “devastated.”

To no one’s surprise, Salon led the way in declaring Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton the winner.

“Hillary dominates — and Donald Trump gave the worst debate performance of any candidate ever,” the headline read. “So the Trump campaign wasn’t kidding — he didn’t prepare, and the result was total devastation.”

“At the First Presidential Debate, Hillary Proves She’s Got This,” read the headline on a column from Michelle Goldberg on Slate.

Interestingly enough, Slate’s own readers seemed to think Donald Trump had it. In a survey on that site of who won the contest, Trump topped Clinton 55 to 45 percent.

Heather Digby Parton wrote: “The simple fact is that Hillary Clinton dominated him. The debate was all her thrusting and him parrying over and over again. By the end he was visibly slumping and seemed confused. And since being a ‘winner’ is so central to his candidacy and his personality, the loss is even more devastating.”

Talking heads expressed a common theme: The presidential race is already over. It doesn’t seem to matter that the last debate will be Oct. 19. And then there will be another 20 days before the election.

Joe Trippi, the usually fair-minded liberal pundit, said the election is basically decided. No chance for Trump.

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Much more pervasive than the “race is over” refrain was the notion that Trump had shown himself to be a constant liar. Despite Clinton’s dodge on her email problems, and her own long-documented trouble with truth, The Huffington Post said Trump lied about his opposition to the Iraq War in 2003.

“Donald Trump Lies About His Iraq War Support, Wishes Someone Would Call Sean Hannity,” read The Huffington Post headline.

“Donald Trump insisted that he really was against the Iraq War, saying during Monday night’s presidential debate that a Fox News personality could vouch for him,” wrote Arthur Delaney of The Huffington Post.

It must be embarrassing for The Huffington Post that Fox News prominently backed Trump up Tuesday, running a top story on their website that suggested Trump had indeed expressed doubts about the war on Jan. 28, 2003, on Neil Cavuto’s show, weeks before the invasion. But apparently a half-hearted “I guess so” on Howard Stern weeks later counts more to the folks in the media.

Back to Joe Trippi. Trippi helped manage Gary Hart’s 1988 Democratic campaign, but is best known for managing Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign. Dean, the former national chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a former Vermont governor, is now a pundit for MSNBC and CNN. Famous for his “scream” after losing Iowa in 2004, Dean let loose another kind of scream Monday night.

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Brian Stelter, CNN’s media analyst, has basically morphed into a Clinton cheerleader. He used the term “mic drop” to describe a Clinton retort.

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CBS News was among many media outlets that enjoyed Clinton’s smug retort to Trump about her preparation for the debate.

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The media and the Democrats have an attitude toward the GOP nominee that they cannot hide. Their disdain for Trump has bubbled over into condescension for American voters, and they will be stunned and confused should Trump defy their expectations and win the White House on Nov. 8.

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“In any ordinary election year, by any rational measure, you would say that Hillary Clinton trounced Donald Trump in their first debate,” wrote Richard Wolff of The Guardian. “The more important question is whether the majority of voters in November are in anything like a rational mood.”

The media seemed uninterested in Clinton’s failure to live up to her own campaign’s debate previews and offer a compelling justification for her candidacy. Amid criticism that her campaign had become consumed by its anti-Trump messaging, Clinton’s inner circle promised the former secretary of state would make the case for why she should be president instead of just relying on arguments about why Trump shouldn’t be.

But Clinton and her campaign went fully negative on Trump during and after the debate.

In short, Clinton failed to reach the bar set by her campaign in the expectations game — but the media skipped past all that, because there was a Trump pig pile to join.

meet the author

Political reporter, LifeZette. Indiana University journalism grad. Boston U. business grad. Former Indiana, Alabama statehouse reporter, Daytona Beach editorial writer.

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