Why Does the Media Fail Time After Time?

The press isn’t what it makes out to be. It doesn’t observe the political game objectively from the sidelines; it hands out points to the participants.

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Reporters surround Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump after the second official Republican presidential debate of the 2016 election campaign, September 16, 2015.Credit: Reuters

The American media the dominant liberal media with all its great reporters and commentators failed completely to predict the result of the U.S. presidential election. The same thing happened in Israel less than two years ago.

During both campaigns the main media outlets forecast a victory for the camp they belonged to and whose values they believed in. They predicted a loss for the camp whose values they opposed, even despised.

In both cases, journalists came down against the other camp's candidate Benjamin Netanyahu here and Donald Trump there in order to depict each man as a liar, racist and disaster. At the same time, they extolled their camp's stale leader Isaac Herzog here and Hillary Clinton there.

True, the media said, these candidates may be a bit bland, but they’re worthy. But why? Have Herzog or Clinton ever done anything that’s etched in our memory? No. So why are they worthy? Because they’re “ours,” because they were meant to lead. After all, the father of one and the husband of the other have been presidents.

This way of thinking led reporters to slant the polling in favor of the candidate their hearts desired something that turned out to be a terrible error. The media predicted what it hoped would happen, which is malfeasance; after all, its role is to report and analyze what’s happening in reality.

But the media isn’t what it makes out to be. It doesn’t observe the political game objectively from the sidelines; it hands out points to the participants. The media is an active player, even a decisive one.

In Israel, the model for leading the people in the “right” direction is: We will prove to the masses that their leader is psychotic and his wife is a drunk. Then the people will sober up and vote for our candidate. Then comes the redemption.

But this model not only doesn’t work, the opposite is true. The more the media tries to deal with the leader’s “abnormal” personality, the more his electorate grows.

This model doesn’t work, or is counterproductive, for two reasons. First, the obsessive reporting about the leader’s character flaws tells his voters that they too are flawed, or “deplorable” in Clinton’s words. So why should you vote based on the advice of someone who deplores you?

Second, the media is part of the ruling class, and its denials and disavowals will do it no good. These are privileged people who make a good living and have the greatest freedom, rights and platform of anyone in the world. So voters who are less well off, less privileged and less connected those the media calls “the people” rise up against the media’s pontificating.

This is especially true concerning everything the media says about these people and their “incorrect” choices. They then do the exact opposite.

So maybe the media should stop being so obsessive about leaders’ personal characteristics and propose a better way to run the country. Or maybe the media doesn’t have such a proposal. Maybe it doesn’t have anything to offer other than what the leader has and simply wants one of its own in power? Can that be?

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