On Tuesday, November 8th, the world was shocked. CNN, The New York Times and countless other trusted media outlets got it wrong. Watching the numbers roll in as state after state flipped red on Google’s live feed, I was dumbfounded. No one, on either extreme of the political spectrum, could have seen those results coming.
I haven’t written about it until now because, quite honestly, I was simply confused. I had no idea the reasons behind Donald Trump’s surprise win and I had no intention of simply writing another passionate reactionary piece about the failure of our electoral system and the downfall of modern democracy as we know it.
The truth is, this isn’t an issue of good people versus bad, justice versus injustice, bigotry versus tolerance; the whole situation is a complicated mess of misinformation, lies, and embarrassingly soft media coverage.
An incredible piece recently published by The Guardian really brought some of those complexities to light. In the 10-minute video, a camera crew had the opportunity to speak with voters in one of the poorest counties in West Virginia (which went overwhelmingly red on election night). Abandoned by a coal industry that has since moved on with the times, the citizens of McDowell County were left with nothing but an empty husk of a once-booming industrial town and steadfast hope in the power of their vote. And Trump may as well have offered them their jobs back personally.
The truth is, the promises Trump made at his rallies will be excruciatingly difficult to deliver on, or simply downright impossible to achieve. But CNN wasn’t making sure the citizens of McDowell County were hearing that. Instead, mainstream media gave Trump nearly $2 billion in free exposure in this election cycle, all of which failed to properly scrutinize his empty promises and faulty campaign platforms.
The mainstream once again fell into the folly of journalistic objectivity. Jeff Jarvis of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism told the BBC that “equating the issue of Hillary Clinton’s email server with all of the criticisms of Donald Trump in the name of balance was misleading.” Corporate media pretended comparing the misuse of a private email server to multiple allegations of fraud and rape was apples to apples. Aggressive common sense reporting was nowhere to be found. And truth died in the process.
It was through these utter failures that corporate media continued to normalize Donald Trump as a legitimate candidate. And he’s ridden the lazy river straight to the White House.