What the US Media Should Learn From France but Probably Won’t
Not to be pessimistic but the media is not big on introspection. I mean they talk about it all the time but it only applies to Thee not me-the Thee in question being Hillary Clinton.
One media take on Macron is that: newsflash, the Center Left lost in America because Hillary Clinton is a terrible candidate. Something the media has never said before. A really weird take was a Noah Rothman piece that argued that Macron’s win proved that Russian interference isn’t why Hillary lost-after all Macron won.
As if analyzing effects is that facile and cut and dried. Rothman goes as far as saying that suppressing the hacks would have not had any effect.
“The emails exposed a party in crisis, but so did November.”
Pretty bizarre reasoning. He knows this for a fact. As Nate Silver pointed out, many people seem not to realize how thin Trump’s margin was.
6. …and Clinton lost the tipping-point state, Wisconsin, by only 0.8 points. People seem to forget how narrow Trump's victory was.
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) May 8, 2017
I mean for Rothman to pretend to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that 45 straight days of leaked emails would not have moved the vote by 0.7% doesn’t pass the laugh test. He like many Hillary haters is just very invested in doing a jig on her grave.
Now we know that the information Comey gave on October 28 was false. I’m sure this too couldn’t move the numbers half a percent.
Back to Rothman:
Rothman is less concerned about Russian interference than people being too strident in criticizing Trump. That’s an impressive set of priorities.
You see a lot of these Hillary haters who argue: ‘It doesn’t matter if the ref was paid off, a good team would have won anyway.’
Whether true or not, besides the point.
As for the media, it doesn’t do introspection-with a few exceptions like Brian Stelter who at least tries.
“The hacked emails from Emmanuel Macron’s French campaign appear to be spectacularly mundane, according to people who have read them. They include briefings on issues, personal exchanges and discussions of the weather. No doubt they also include some embarrassing thoughts, but so far they are notably lacking in scandal.”
“Does this description remind you of anything?”
“Ah, yes. Last year, Russian agents stole thousands of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign and published them via WikiLeaks. The dominant feature of the emails was their ordinariness.”
“They contained no evidence of lawbreaking, major hypocrisy or tawdry scandal. Even the worst revelation — a Democratic official and CNN contributor fed a town hall question to the campaign in advance — qualified as small beer. Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign engaged in much more consequential debate skulduggery. The Clinton emails were instead full of staff members jockeying for position, agonizing over strategy, complaining about their bosses and offering advice to those same bosses.”
“Imagine for a moment that your inbox, or your boss’s, was released to the world. I’ll guess that it would not be free of embarrassment.”
This is an important point. Deborah Tannen had pointed out at the time that if your private correspondences are leaked they take on a certain illicit character even if you’ve said nothing wrong. This is why we have a right to privacy.
“I disagree with people who say that the server was a nonstory. Clinton violated government policy and was not fully honest. The F.B.I. conducted an investigation, whatever you think of it. All of that adds up to a real news story.”
“The question is scale. Last fall, Gallup asked Americans what they were hearing about the candidates. The answers about Donald Trump were all over the place: immigration, his speeches and his criticism of Barack Obama, among other things. When people described what they were hearing about Clinton, by contrast, one subject towered over every other: email.”
“That’s a pretty harsh indictment of the coverage (and Gallup’s research was done well before James Comey wrote his infamous letter). It is a sign that Clinton’s private server and the hacked emails crowded out everything else, including her plans for reducing inequality, addressing climate change and conducting a more hawkish foreign policy than Obama. It’s a sign that the media failed to distinguish a subject that sounded important — secret emails! — from subjects that were in reality more important.”
For the record no one said it shouldn’t have been covered but as he says himself, the scale was way out of whack. Indeed, now that the entire Trump WH is using a private email server at the RNC we have heard nary a peep about it. All which sort of point the fact that the email story was just about politics.
“Last weekend, France’s mainstream media showed how to exercise better judgment.”
“Late Friday, two days before the election, hackers released the Macron campaign emails. French media laws are stricter than American laws, and government officials argued against publication of the hacked information. But only the campaigns themselves were legally barred from making statements during the final weekend. Publications could have reported on the substance of the emails.”
They largely did not. “It was a manipulation attempt — people trying to manipulate our voting process,” Gilles van Kote, deputy chief editor of Le Monde, told me.
“French journalists rightly did not focus on what seemed like big news, because the emails surely did. They evaluated what truly was major news. Material released by a hostile foreign government, with the aim of confusing voters and evidently without significant new information, failed to qualify. Van Kote said reporters are continuing to read the emails to see if they warrant future stories.”
“The two cases obviously are not identical. (And van Kote wasn’t criticizing American journalism; the criticisms are mine.) But they are similar enough to say that the French media exercised better, more sober judgment than the American media.”
“This issue isn’t going away. Our digital world ensures that the private information of public figures, and not-so-public ones, will be released again in the future.”
As for Rothman he tries to obscure the issue in his piece as well. The point is the media has great discretion in what they cover and how much. Like they scarcely covered Russia before the election-just like no one but Woodward and Bernstein covered Watergate before the election.
Let’s hope the media learns something-though it’s tough not to be pessimistic about it. They’re much more worried about selling their anti Hilary narrative and claiming validation than looking in the mirror.
P.S. As we saw in my poll out last week, the long awaited poll results are in, and right now I’m just 11 points down vs. Peter King (GOP-NY-District 2). And the voters don’t even know who I am yet.
There is nothing more important in getting answers to Trump-Russia collusion than a Democratic House in 2019. Please donate to help me in my part of the effort to fight for a Dem House.
Thank you. We must have a Dem House. And so, we will.