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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Hold the media accountable

The mainstay of blogging is a dissatisfaction will the mainstream media's errors, omissions, and bias. In his 2006 book, "An Army of Davids," Glenn Harlan Reynolds wrote:
Where before journalists and pundits could bloviate at leisure, offering illogical analysis or citing "facts" that were in fact false, now the Sunday morning op-eds have already been dissected on Saturday night, within hours of their appearing on newspapers’ websites.
I have been on both sides of the equation. Ten years later, the media has not learned. And in the 2016 Republican nomination process, with very rare exception -- maybe a dozen out of a thousand pundits in Washington and New York -- understood what was obvious: most Americans wanted Donald Trump to be president.

Now everyone makes mistakes.

But when a mob like this -- 97% to use the global warming crowd's made up number -- get it wrong like this, the American people no longer have a free press but a propaganda machine aimed at gunning down anyone who dares challenge the status quo. Whatever happened to Andrea Tantaros, one of the few Trump supporters on Fox News?

The conformity in the press alarmed me. I do not buy the separation of the opinion side from the news gathering side. I read the Charleston Gazette for 30 years.

My concern is why in January I began writing and researching my new book, "Trump the Press: Don Surber's take on how the pundits blew the 2016 Republican race." It is a light work, heavy on the research, and deadly on the message. For example, one chapter is devoted to "Peak Trump," which catalogs all the times the experts said we reached Peak Trump, a point where his popularity was at high tide.

The experts aren't. On the day Trump announced for president, pol expert Harry Enten of Nate Silver's 538 site wrote:
Trump has a better chance of cameoing in another Home Alone movie with Macaulay Culkin—or playing in the NBA Finals—than winning the Republican nomination.
Everyone else in Washington seemed to agree. Chris Cillizza, the Washington Post's poll expert used Enten's numbers and wrote:
Why no one should take Donald Trump seriously, in one very simple chart.
And that became the conventional wisdom in Washington.

So who the hell is Harry Enten? A 2011 graduate of Dartmouth.

Seriously, why do we take these people serious? They are not. They called Trump a clown. It was projection.

My book covers the campaign from his announcement on June 16, 2015, to his victory in Indiana on May 3, 2016. Readers get to take the ride again but from the perspective of how awful the press was.

Remember when the Des Moines Register demanded Trump drop out because he had no chance of wining the nomination? Yes, that was the day he took the lead in teh Real Clear Politics average of polls,  lead he relinquished only briefly to Ben Carson in the nine months before he sowed up the nomination.

Remember when focus group guru Frank Luntz reported on the first debate: "Trump was the number one person walking into that debate. Almost all of his supporters (of the focus group) abandoned him because of what he said." Polls showed otherwise, but hey, what do dumb voters know.

Over time, the press got nastier. When terrorist Bill Ayers succeeded in shutting down a Trump rally, the New York Daily News reported, “Donald Trump’s divisive hate tour exploded in violence Friday with a bloody stop in St. Louis and chaos in Chicago—while the tone-deaf hate-monger denied his role in the madness.” See what I mean about the blur between news and opinion?

The pundits worked themselves into a hatred not only of Trump, whom the National Review branded as Hitler, but his supporters Nazis. How else does one interprete the meaning of the headline, “The Father-F├╝hrer.” Its reporter, Kevin Williamson, wrote off Trump's rural white suppoirters as drug-addicted welfare cheats who engage in "the whelping of human children with all the respect and wisdom of a stray dog." The full quote:
If you spend time in hardscrabble, white upstate New York, or eastern Kentucky, or my own native West Texas, and you take an honest look at the welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy—which is to say, the whelping of human children with all the respect and wisdom of a stray dog—you will come to an awful realization. It wasn’t Beijing. It wasn’t even Washington, as bad as Washington can be. It wasn’t immigrants from Mexico, excessive and problematic as our current immigration levels are. It wasn’t any of that.
He concluded:
The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul. If you want to live, get out of Garbutt, New York.
If the vitriol is that rich, then Trump and his supporters must pose a real threat to the Washington Establishment, who fear the upsetting their cozy lives of living off the sweat of the labors of the rest of the nation.

Mine is an important book. But also fun. $19.99 for 254 pages, 73,000 words, and a trip down memory lane that will be painful for the experts, and a lot of fun for the rest of us.

On Sale on July 1 -- "Trump the Press: Don Surber's take on how the pundits blew the 2016 Republican race."


  1. Your book has true historical importance Don. The greatest of modern historians like AJP Taylor spent almost all of their time digging through archives searching for documents to support a rational explanation of why things happened the way they did. Your book is not only a complete archive of recent political pundit history but contains a gentle, witty and accurate analysis of it. So it is fun to read especially for those who have seen the press inflate it's own pontificating importance for many years while remaining just as hollow as it has always been. I hope it gets the wide reading it deserves .

  2. Can't wait to read it. Getting one copy for the Kindle to read pool-side, and purchasing an autographed copy as well.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Hold the media accountable. How? Many of us have stopped buying their product, but that doesn't do a lot to redress the hurt a biased press does to the nation when it fails to "speak truth to power". Instapundit's suggestion is for conservatives to buy up media companies. Problem is, once a conservative becomes rich enough to buy a media company, he's usually gone over to the Dark Side and turned against the conservative principles he once espoused. Rich Republicans seem to discard their Conservative principles as easily as they replace their Sears clothes with Armani. Trump may be unusual in that respect, giving the impression that he has not forgotten where he came from. Sure, he was never poor, but to me he seems far less impressed with wealth qua wealth than Hillary Clinton is.

  5. "And in the 2016 Republican nomination process... understood what was obvious: most Americans wanted Donald Trump to be president."

    The 2012 election had about 129 million voters. Approximately 13 million GOP votes were cast for Trump during the 2016 primary campaign.

    So in the Trump supporters reality, 13 million > 129 million. Got it.

    So when a Trumpkin overstates or exaggerates reality, what do we call it?

    1. Trump got more votes in this primary than ANYONE you have voted for in any primary ever.

  6. What do we call it when Anon makes statements?

  7. Don Surber writes: "... most Americans wanted Donald Trump to be president."

    Nate Silver says: "Donald Trump Has A 20 Percent Chance Of Becoming President."

  8. Ah, the Bos-Wash Bubble Thought Enforcement!