Major media violates its mission with campaign coverage

Those on the short end of presidential elections tend to do an autopsy afterward, a post-mortem of naval-gazing that is supposed to lead to improvements in future fortunes. The major media in this country desperately needs to include itself in some hard introspection. The fact is, much of the major media’s performance during this presidential campaign was deplorable. Just so there is no misunderstanding, the exhaustive coverage of Donald Trump’s personal transgressions was to be expected. Much of it Trump brought on himself and the national media has long leaned Democrat and left. There are years of surveys to show that and, this year, even political contribution records to illustrate it. The big media had an obligation to cover the questions regarding Hillary Clinton’s character and personal transgressions just as thoroughly and failed miserably. And we don’t think it was by accident. Clinton’s public record as Secretary of State, her twisting of the narrative regarding Benghazi, her deliberate and dangerous exposure of the country through her e-mail server, and her campaign’s behavior exposed through Wikileaks all should have been covered more completely. This was, after all, a presidential candidate under FBI investigation. The media took its inbalance an unforgivable step forward with active involvement in the actual campaigns. There is evidence that questions were fed by one major network to Clinton. There is evidence of story approval being sought by newspapers from Clinton’s campaign. There is evidence of one network seeking questions from the Clinton campaign to ask of the Republican team. These are mortal sins of journalism that these news organizations should be held accountable for by information consumers. They are transgressions worthy of heads rolling. The major media also undercovered – purposely, we think – the stark difference in campaign rally attendance between President-elect Donald Trump and Clinton. There was a movement growing that seemed to be invisible to pollsters and the agenda-driven major media. Part of that was an incapability to report objectively and completely on this most unusual of presidential campaigns. But part of that glossing over of Trump’s movement was, we believe, purposeful. And shameful. Our job is to give information consumers and voters the most complete, objective picture possible. There were some exceptions, but much of our major media failed in that mission and instead became too much a part of the campaign apparatus. That’s dangerous. We hope the repudiation that included them Tuesday leads to a renewed effort to become a trustworthy part of the information process. The First Amendment deserves better execution than it got from the major media during this presidential election.

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