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-Führer.” 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."