The media: "Out of touch? Moi ?"
Now to the bulk of my thoughts tonight...
There is going to be a lot of reflection going on in the media in the next couple of days as to why they so misread the American election - just as they misread the Brexit vote. I am reluctant to move too far off topic but seeing as this blog concerns the promotion of dialogue and understanding, perhaps we should pause for a second and also review why the media got it all so totally wrong.
As the Washington Post writes:~
Trump won 88 percent of self-identified Republicans. ... He wound up garnering 60 percent of white men and 52 percent of white women, according to the exit polls. He even won college-educated whites! [Graeme: How astonished the Post seems at this] White evangelicals supported Trump by an 81 percent to 16 percent margin in the exit polls. Compare that to 2004, when George W. Bush pandered to this group by endorsing a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and still only got 78 percent among this group. ... The [Electoral] map turned out to be surprisingly close to what Mr. Trump had predicted over the last few months, with the GOP proving competitive in rust-belt and Midwest states where he said the Obama economy was failing."
The Establishment (I feel like a 1960's hippy using this term man) were so convinced that Mrs Clinton was going to win and were confidently predicting as much for ... oh, just about the entire race. In fact Mr Trump had been written off by them as soon as he even threw his hat in the ring to run for the Republican nominee.
He was a joke back then and his running was a publicity prank for his businesses. Nobody took him seriously even when he won that nomination with a record number of votes. And the media looked on, like 'Possums in the headlights, uncomprehending & bewildered.
They didn't notice that there were many normal people who couldn't bring themselves to vote for the earlier Republican Establishment offerings of the McCain and Romney RINOs - but they could vote for Trump because, with all his faults, they saw someone who seemed to genuinely share their concerns.
As I mentioned previously, Ann Coulter saw him winning the Presidency at the very start of his campaign. She was openly mocked for saying so. As much as so many find her political views unpalatable, perhaps we should consider listening a bit more openly to these sorts of voices in future? Might be useful.
However the media told us he was merely appealing to the great unwashed in the Republican ranks - the Tea Party racists and so on. The media firmly believed that the bulk of Americans won't buy his line. Just as so many academics, economists and even American Democratic and even (or especially) Republican establishment politicians thought.
Watching the 3 News Hub coverage yesterday Anchor after foreign correspondent after experienced journalist admitted they were Clinton supporters and had found it inconceivable that she should lose. And still the media looked on, uncomprehending, bewildered ... and stunned.
These are the same people who also firmly believed that the Brexit would not happen eh? After all, those polls too had shown firm support for remaining in the EU. And everyone who was anyone could see the necessity of Britain remaining in the EU: the big bankers, the media, academics, prominent politicians from David Cameron to Gordon Brown and Tony Blair all agreed that Brits would think it best for them to vote "Remain."
They were all wrong.
They were all wrong then and these same groups of people still don't get it. Just how continually wrong can you be and still be able to keep looking the public in the face and expect to be taken seriously?
Maybe it's time for a little affirmative action. Maybe it's time to hire one or two token people who actually don't believe that partial-birth abortion is unquestionably a natural right. Or that maybe there is something in our Western culture worth preserving - maybe even in the historic Judeo-Christian religious worldview. There's a radical idea for ya. That is if you can find any such people after our Universities have had them for a few years.
The reasons offered by our intellectual betters for people voting for Trump sound a lot like those offered after Brexit too: Racism, misogyny, xenophobia, isolated groups of out of touch people driven by Fear and divisive politics. Again the media show not the slightest clue as to why people didn't do what they thought they should have done.
- Did nobody pick up the clue that the Democratic nominee was very nearly the openly Socialist outsider Bernie Sanders and that both he and Trump represented a rebellion within both Parties against an elite establishment that had more in common with each other than with their electorates and that refused to take their own people's concerns seriously any more?
- Regarding the polls: go back and listen to Pamela Geller speak back in August when she asks a crowd how many would tell a pollster that they were voting for Trump and had the whole room laugh. People were as guarded in saying they were voting for Brexit. We had better consider what the message is we should take away from this. Shaming for non-conformity has replaced openness and acceptance of difference.
- How did it not compute that while the polls were seemingly saying one thing, Mr Trump would get 33,000 people at his rallies while Mrs Clinton only got 1,800? What ideological blinkers stopped this from featuring in computations?
Simply put, the news media, like most established political parties in the West, no longer understands, let alone represents, ordinary people.
My fellow New Zealanders have the most appalling perception of Mr Trump not because he is so befuddlingly awful but because the media focus on nothing but the negatives while giving their ideological ally Mrs Clinton a free pass and always the benefit of the doubt. Is it any wonder crowds at Trump rallies chant "CNN sucks" and 94% of Americans no longer trust the news media?
The new head of the Democratic National Committee, Donna Brazille has been proved to have fed debate questions ahead of time to the Clinton campaign using her position as a then CNN contributor. CNN let her go because of this. Yet when I go to our TV news media I can't even find a mention of it. Why not? I'm pretty sure if a Fox news contributor got some questions to Trump it would be a very big deal though eh? Why the blatant double standard?
I would be just as disturbed if the establishment figures (that means you news media) were as biased the other way. I have always had problems with Mr Trump and I have tried to keep saying so in these pages. The gentleman Ben Carson was my choice (whew! at least I'm not a racist eh!) but an American friend said he would never have survived the rough and tumble of the race. She was probably right.
We have every right to expect professional, ethical and appropriate treatment of all candidates by the media though. That's their job isn't it?
This all applies to our central issue of Islam. Again the News Media and so many Academics, public commentators & intellectuals are quite unable to differentiate between criticism of Sharia and the culture it produces in immigrants - its denegration of women, the hatred of Jews, Christians & homosexuals, the dedication to either reject democracy or cynically use it to gain the advantage before constricting it - and racism. Sorry, what race is Islam again?
These are not stupid people but they simply do not understand normal life, normal people, normal concerns or normal language any more.
Those xenophobic "Far Right" politicians and people in European countries especially are deeply concerned at the levels of crime committed by migrants. Why shouldn't they be? That they're upset that their Police, their governments and their news media are all provably complicit in hiding from public knowledge the vast depth of these crimes is perfectly understandable. It would really upset us too.
These people really aren't as horrible as our journalists think. They merely have very normal concerns for their societies. When Geert Wilders' PVV party takes over leadership of the Netherlands in the near future it will not be because they hate Muslims or brown people. It will be because an ever greater chunk of normal people are aware that they are being marginalised in their own country by their own government.
And the people most surprised by it all will be those whose job it is to know what is going on.
I would find that humiliating if I were them.