Politics

Seven Most Discrediting Media Screw-Ups of 2016

Notable mistakes from a year of astounding mainstream press bias and incompetence

The mainstream media was arguably the biggest loser of the 2016 presidential election. Time and again, the press engaged in unprecedented hackery in order to advance an agenda, and time and again they screwed up — big league.

The man responsible for causing most of the myriad unforced errors from the press corps was Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, now the president-elect. Trump drove the media crazy — crazy enough to make mistakes. They took their eye off the ball so much, they forgot what game they were playing.

“Outside of the Civil War and World War II, and including 9/11, this may be the most cataclysmic event the country has ever seen.”

The media became blinded by partisanship and lost sight of its primary function of serving as an impartial referee. The historic bias of the press drove them to make grand mistakes. They are the epic media screw-ups of 2016.

‘This Election is Over’
The problem with any journalist saying an election is over is twofold: One, it can affect turnout for one or both candidates. And two, it can easily be just plain in error amid the volatility of politics.

Trump was always in the running, and only a few journalists said so. Most bought into the hype, peddled by Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign, that Trump was down for good in early October, due to the first debate and an audiotape scandal.

“The math is grim for Donald J. Trump: His rival, Hillary Clinton, has a 90 percent chance of winning the election,” wrote The New York Times’ Michael Barbaro on Oct. 18.

The GOP and Trump were over a cliff “and into the political abyss,” said MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Oct. 12.

In Showtime’s political docu-series, “The Circus,” Bloomberg writers John Heilemann and Mark Halperin spend much of their season finale suggesting Trump will lose. Then, later in the show, election night comes.

By the time the Bloomberg duo visit Stephen Colbert at New York’s CBS studio, around 10:30 p.m. Nov. 8, everyone is shell-shocked.

“Outside of the Civil War and World War II, and including 9/11, this may be the most cataclysmic event the country has ever seen,” Halperin told a stunned Colbert.

Cheerleading for Hillary
Tim Graham of the conservative Media Research Center believes the many reporters getting exposed by WikiLeaks as sucking up to the Democrats is the biggest media blunder of 2016.

“Getting caught by WikiLeaks being obsequious butlers and maids to Team Hillary,” Graham said. “No wonder they think the Russians hacked the election. They ruined the media’s routine — gush on camera, gush behind the scenes.”

Examples include Politico’s chief political reporter Glenn Thrush, who, in a leaked April 2015 email, sent a message to Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta.

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“Because I have become a hack I will send u the whole section that pertains to u,” said Thrush. “Please don’t share or tell anyone I did this. Tell me if I [expletive] up anything.”

It’s unclear if Politico meted out any punishment to Thrush. But it is known he recently got a job offer from The New York Times. Surprised?

Trump’s Supporters Are Haters
Leading up to the election, the Left went to great lengths to smear the ordinary Americans who backed Trump’s candidacy.

The press peddled exaggerated and twisted stories to paint Trump supporters as not just haters, but racists and domestic terrorists.

The best example of this was the torching of a predominantly black church in Greenville, Mississippi, on Nov. 1. It became a viral story. On a church wall, graffiti read: “Vote Trump.”

Dr. Catherine Jones told the Clarion-Ledger that the arson happened because Trump was promoting hatred and division. Weeks later police arrested Andrew McClinton, 45, a black member of the church, for the crime. Police added politics was not his motivation.

Trump Has No Ground Game
Reporters and commentators were wrong about the GOP nominee’s ability to turn out his core supporters.

Despite repeated reporting by LifeZette and others on the growing seriousness of Trump’s ground game, the media couldn’t get off reporting that Democrat Hillary Clinton would be unchallenged in the field.

What readers of LifeZette knew was that Trump had outsourced his ground game to the Republican National Committee and the various state committees, such as ones in Ohio and Michigan. The sophisticated efforts put together by the party apparatus were buffeted tremendously by Trump’s relentless campaign schedule of rallies that kept enthusiasm high among his supporters in key states.

Latinos and Trump
The media eagerly reported Trump was looking at a Hispanic-vote apocalypse.

“Latino voting surge rattles Trump campaign,” a Politico headline blared on Nov. 6.

In the end, Trump did 2 points better than Republican Mitt Romney did in 2012: Trump got 29 percent of the Hispanic vote, almost a third of the bloc. More importantly, Hillary Clinton did 6 points worse than Obama.

Hispanic voters helped Trump win in key states where the vote was close.

Brexit
The proposed British exit from the European Union — or “Brexit” — was supposed to have little chance.

This was a blunder many in the U.S.-European media made. It was a case of not knowing or understanding conservative voters, who didn’t like what the United Kingdom’s membership in the E.U. had morphed into.

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On June 22, Bloomberg pollsters found 46.2 percent of Britons would vote to remain in the EU. Only 44.3 percent would vote to exit. The next day, almost 52 percent of British voters chose to exit the EU.

The Shy Tory
Despite seeing Britons defy pollsters and vote for Brexit in a shock upset, the U.S. media loathed the theory of the “shy Tory.” The shy Tory is a conservative voter who doesn’t tell pollsters who he or she is voting for, or misleads pollsters, out of fear of being labeled ignorant, unrefined or racist.

After Brexit, the “shy Trump” voter was a key theory the Trump campaign had as to why mainstream media polls consistently showed Clinton leading nationally and in swing states. For this, they were mocked.

Yet the media got it wrong. The shy Trump vote existed, and there were more of them than the media reported. They likely account for Trump’s margin of victory in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

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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