‘We’re going to follow the results. We’re not going to assume anything…’
(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) On the morning of election day 2016, the news media and national polling outlets were unanimously decided that Hillary Clinton would sail to electoral victory, and by extension, the White House.
They were, of course, wrong. Dismally wrong.
Now, on election day 2018, elite news organizations are saying they’re determined not to repeat their past embarrassing mistakes.
“I have no idea what’s going to happen,” declared CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist on Monday. “We’re ready for every outcome.”
A repeat of oversold Democratic-friendly forecasts would be disastrous, leaving polling as we know it and the media’s already tattered reputation in ruins.
By election eve 2016, polling expert Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight declared Clinton a 3-1 favorite. The famed New York Times gave Clinton an 85 percent chance of winning. And the experts at the Princeton Election Consortium pegged a Clinton victory at 99 percent. All of them missed badly.
Marc Burstein, an ABC News senior executive producer acknowledged in a Politico interview that “there were assumptions made in 2016 by lots of news organizations.”
This time, Burstein said it’s going to be different.
“We’re going to be nimble. We’re going to follow the results. We’re not going to assume anything,” Burstein said.
But for many, the news media has done nothing but present “blue wave” expectations and over-sampled Democratic leaning polls for months pursuant to the media’s collective opposition to President Trump.
Have they already gone too far? Will they be able to present some semblance of objectivity, whether genuine or not?
“Two years ago, the media was pilloried for giving viewers and readers the impression there was little chance Hillary Clinton could lose and, worse, for missing the Trump phenomenon,” Politico preemptively reported in advance of Tuesday’s election results — which included the bitter swipe that “conservatives mocked the reactions of television anchors as [Trump’s] victory became apparent.”
Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt blamed the media for being overly invested in a Hillary Clinton presidency and ignoring Trump’s 20 percent chance of winning — the same type of enthusiasm that seems to have permeated the 2018 midterms.
“If somebody told you there was a 1 in 5 chance that an airplane was going to crash, you would not get on the airplane,” Stirewalt said.
But that was then. And now, CNN says it’s more than prepared.
“We have completely reprogrammed the magic wall from the ground up,” Feist said, referring to the giant monitor with maps that CNN uses in its election coverage.
Rather than copping to bias as the problem, Feist says CNN’s magic wall will help their political coverage “be more nimble in breaking down specific House races.”