The award season is in full swing. It started with the Emmys last fall, we just endured the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards — and the Oscars will soon be upon us as Hollywood celebrates itself once again.
In a year in which fake news has been the subject of endless discussion, I thought it might be a good time to announce our 1st Annual Fake News Award winners among the mainstream media.
My poll was not scientific, and was made up of people I know from all walks of life: my poker buddies, my small church group, an innkeeper, a beekeeper, a dog sitter, a baby sitter, a pipe fitter, two long haul truckers, a long distance runner, a short order cook, and a short-form Snapchat director (my 11-year-old daughter).
And also — my yoga instructor, doctor, and accountant were included, as was a Marine drill instructor, a marine biologist, an acupuncturist, an ex-con, and a trial lawyer.
Which makes the chances of this poll being accurate about as likely as any of the professional pollsters’ findings this past election cycle.
And now to the top seven nominees.
1.) ‘Donald Trump Has No Path to 270’
We saw it every night on every major news network from the early fall to election night, Nov. 8, 2016. There were those big electronic national maps, with some news analyst working the map trying to put together a path to victory for Donald Trump. Over and over again, the experts couldn’t do it and came to the same conclusion: Trump had no path to 270 electoral votes. They stated it as fact. And repeated it so often, you’d think they were organizing their own homegrown voter suppression effort. The real news story was very different. As the night turned into morning after that fateful Election Day, we learned that it was Hillary Clinton who “had no path to 270.” Or 250. Or even 240.
Where were the reports of white working class Americans living on the edge? Where was the impact of President Obama’s war on coal?
2.) ‘The Economy Is Great’
This narrative was pushed hard by the mainstream media to burnish President Obama’s legacy, and to help the Democrat’s chances of winning the presidential election as well. This, too, was a whopper of a fake news story, because looming in many parts of this country were deep economic dislocations national reporters would have found if they’d bothered to look. For millions of blue-collar and middle-class Americans, stagnant wages, rising health care costs, and college costs were putting the American Dream not only on hold, but out of reach. Many Americans were benefiting from the 21st century economy and global trade, but many more weren’t, and those who weren’t were mad. Very mad. And looking for change.
This very big news story — the American white working class uprising — was missed by people who call themselves news people.
Donald Trump saw it all by himself. He didn’t need data analysts, pollsters, or a network to figure it out.
3.) ‘Donald Trump Engaged in Serial Sexual Assaults’
It was only weeks before the election, and suddenly, out of nowhere — there they were. Woman after woman came forward to tell her story of how Donald trump abused, groped, and bullied her. Why didn’t these serious accusations surface during the primaries? Why did we stop hearing about the stories soon after they emerged? Sexual assault is a serious thing, and if any of those claims were true, why didn’t the media push on this story? It would be quite a story, a sitting president of the United States being a serial sexual abuser.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for that fake news story to reemerge. We all know why.
4.) ‘Donald Trump Will Get Hammered by Female Voters’
This could be viewed as a natural downstream product of fake news story #3. Interview after interview with women on the street by the MSM — Republican and Democrat voters alike — led to the same mantra: Donald Trump would lose the woman vote by insurmountable margins because women overwhelmingly thought he was a nasty, sexist man. The real news? Donald Trump received 62 percent of white women voters without college degrees, and 45 percent of college-educated white female voters. The media elites are still scratching their heads, saying to themselves, “What the heck were those women thinking?”
Maybe they should have talked to more women — or maybe they should have been better listeners.
5.) ‘The Markets Will Tank If Donald Trump Is Elected’
For several hours after the elections, this fake news story peddled by the MSM came true. The experts were giddy as the markets tumbled in overnight trading on election night. But as one day passed, and then another, the market kept rising. And rising.
By the end of last week, large-cap stocks had risen nearly 11 percent above their pre-election low, as investors bet that Trump’s plans to cut taxes and slash regulations would unleash corporate profits — and America’s animal spirits. That ranks as the market’s best Election Day to Inauguration Day move on record, edging out the rallies enjoyed in the wake of the elections of Presidents William McKinley and Calvin Coolidge.
That’s the real news no MSM pundit predicted. Though most media types didn’t like Trump’s economic plan, and generally don’t like pro–business and pro–market candidates, the American people — and investors across the country — did. The markets have delivered $1.4 trillion in new stock market wealth since Trump’s big win. That’s a heck of a real news story!
6.) ‘Trump Lost the Popular Vote’
After the reality set in that all of the news professionals had missed the biggest news story of the year, they did everything they could to marginalize Trump’s victory and prop up their own bona fides. To accomplish both goals, the MSM trotted out their favorite post-election fake news story: Trump lost the popular vote. Here’s why that’s fake news. Saying Trump lost the popular vote is like saying an NFL team scored less points, but really won the game because they had more total yardage. No coach, player or sports analyst would ever say such a thing — because they know how stupid it sounds.
That’s not how football games are scored! Presidential elections are scored by electoral votes, and that’s how Trump organized his campaign strategy. If he wanted more popular votes, he would have campaigned in places where there were lots of popular votes to gain — namely, in big blue cities like New York City and Los Angeles, where surely there were some votes to be had. But that’s not the way the game they were playing is scored. He and Hillary Clinton knew that, and so does the media. So the next time you hear the MSM talk about the popular vote, know that they’re hauling out one of their fake news favorites. And they know it.
7.) ‘Racism Accounted for Trump’s Victory’
This may be the ugliest of all of the MSM’s fake news stories. When Van Jones called the Trump victory a “whitelash,” he was saying what many media elites were thinking, but didn’t have the guts to say. White working-class Americans watched the MSM report endlessly over the past year about the Black Lives Matter movement, and do endless storytelling — hours upon hours on CNN, especially — about how illegal immigrants lived in the “shadows” of American society.
Where were the reports of white working-class Americans living on the edge? Where were the stories from Appalachia, and the impact of President Obama’s war on coal? Where were the stories of our hollowed-out white working class in small towns across this country?
Those stories deserved coverage, too, and if the media had bothered to do some fact-gathering, maybe they would have seen the Trump win coming. The fake news story about racism will continue to persist. But the real story is this: White working-class voters, many of them union Democrats, voted for Trump not because they were racists, but because they were tired of being ignored by the media and the political elites. They were desperate for change. Trump was the change they were looking for.
These are my unofficial top fake news stories of the year. Feel free to vote for your top story of the year. If I’ve missed one — and I’m sure I did — I’d love to hear yours.
One thing is certain: As the media continues to pass off their never-ending punditry and prognosticating as journalism, we’re certain to have an even better year of fake news coming our way. If past performance is any indication of the future, next year’s 2nd Annual Fake News Awards will be even more entertaining than the first.
Send your ideas for top fake news stories of the year to [email protected]
Lee Habeeb is VP of content for Salem Radio Network and host of “Our American Stories.” He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife, Valerie, and his daughter, Reagan.