In the days following the election, the webpages of the major media showed why they were so far off the mark in assuming, and largely promoting, a Clinton victory. The early morning shock and confusion among the millionaire-media class is striking. But almost all of the posts and articles illustrate and perpetuate many of the blunders they have made before.
The media’s bewilderment illustrates how a small club of insular, mostly left-biased, television- and blog-stars is dramatically out of touch with people in all 50 states. Throw in pollsters and people with magic maps and you have a gang of people locked together in a cultural bomb-shelter who cannot imagine the motivations, hopes and needs of people outside of the bunker.
(Given the current intolerant and divisive atmosphere, I feel compelled to point out that this point of view comes from a person who did not vote for Donald Trump.)
What the media cannot grasp is that it is not about them.
The billion-dollar media machines want to see this election as questions about campaign structure and spending, identity politics, candidates’ use of media, “messaging,” block voting and MapAble demographics. They cannot resist seeing elections as contests for best use of media, or who said the right magic words. That is not it at all. The election of Donald Trump is, in part, a rejection of the media’s obsession with itself.
His election is a rebellion without violence or ramparts. He is a smoke bomb in the market or the air horn at the coffee klatch. He is the blunt tool Americans used to reject media, pollsters, celebrities, millionaires and the establishment. Some voters chose the unknown prospect of a Trump White House over the bundle of snarky, condescending and disrespectful elites. It was not about a blue ribbon for “Best Campaign”; it was about a rejection of a system that thinks elections are rubber stamps for the left-leaning kingmakers.
Television segments featuring pundits, pollsters and gas-bags would be a lot shorter and more relevant if they could imagine that this election was not about process and millions of dollars in media-spend but the genuine concerns of real people. (In this, of course, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are similar.)
Whatever candidate a person may have supported, there is one clear loser here: Big Media.
Mainstream media showed in its lavish broadcasts and oracular pages that is out of touch and self-absorbed. It is a narrowly-constituted coterie of millionaires with, mostly, a single worldview. This cheerfully insulated club, comfortable and prosperous beyond its deserving, is periodically astonished that not every voter conforms to that club’s “correct” and standardized view of America.
I suspect that those who voted for Trump recognized that he is a flawed person but nonetheless felt the opportunity to knock over the stack of blocks and special interests (left and right) was worth the risk that his approach represented.
And so, today, the media powers are overlooking the rebellion occurring right under their noses because they are still too busy talking to each other about process and commiserating with those groups deemed worthy of positive regard.
Peter W. Laberee is a middle-aged lawyer who lives in New Jersey.