Sharyl Attkisson

Sharyl Attkisson is a five time Emmy Award-winning investigative journalist based in Washington D.C. She is author of a new book entitled “The Smear” (Harper Collins, June 2017), which addresses...

The Big Miss


First came the shock. Then came the awe. With half the campaign money of Hillary Clinton, President-elect Donald Trump defied Democrats, his own party, the media-- and nearly every prediction.

We're calling it "The Big Miss."

If the media mis-read America.. there's a reason for the disconnect.

In the first post election poll, Full Measure and Rasmussen Reports asked: How much do you trust the media coverage this election cycle?

Over two thirds said not so much. Only a third of those surveyed said they had -any- trust in the media's coverage of this election.

And that says something about our once-trusted institutions: media and polls.

Donald Trump: I am officially running for president of the United States.

The big miss started from day one.

Fox News clip Mara Liasson: I think this is Donald Trump's biggest day. And he will be ignored from henceforth. Actually I hope he will.

Never before have so many in the media worked so hard to convince the public that a candidate couldn’t and shouldn’t win.

ABC clip: we better be ready he might be leading the Republican ticket. Stephanopoulos: *laughs* I know you don’t believe that. *laughs*

MSNBC clip Chris Matthews: It was not close it was over tonight very clear result Hillary won big time. It was a shutout.

USA Today clip Bill Sternberg: it is unusual Roger, for the first time in 34 years USA Today was founded in 1982 the editorial board is taking a position on the presidential race specifically we are urging voters not to support Donald Trump

Going into election night, the poll analyst site “538” showed Hillary Clinton with a 71% chance of winning.

Slate.com was off by more than a half million votes in Florida alone and incorrectly predicted Clinton would win the Sunshine State.

At 9:18 p.m., the Detroit Free Press incorrectly called Michigan for Hillary Clinton. In the end, Trump won the state, and the election. All forcing a massive media mea culpa in the reality hangover the morning after.

Fox News clip Larry Sabado: We were wrong, ok? The entire punditry industry, the entire polling industry the entire analyst industry and I want to use this to take my fair share of the blame we were wrong.

Sharyl: How do you explain to them that maybe we didn't see what was going on around us, in front of our nose?

Frank Senso: I say we didn't see what was going around us in front of our nose.

Frank Sesno teaches ethics in journalism to students at George Washington University.

Frank Senso: I say that the story that took place, and this is to the lesson, this is also the lesson of journalism, that the story of the year in my view, is the story out there in America that neither the media nor the political ruling class saw, heard, got, or suspected.

Sharyl: In a way, looking at the coverage that was going into this and the polls, to me, this is almost a modern Dewey defeats Truman moment.

John Johnson: I think that’s right, I mean, the polls, the national polls had Clinton ahead three to five points.

John Johnson is a statistics expert from MIT who analyzes polls. He’s author of the book “Everydata,” about how people misconstrue data.

Sharyl Attkisson: How would you rate the importance of what’s happened with polling in this election in terms of looking at the last 20, 30, 40 years?

John Johnson: I think it is very important with respect to the fact that if the polls can’t accurately measure turnout, if the polls can’t be an accurate gauge of voters’ preferences, it’s hard to have a lot of confidence in them, and it just leads to people being less trusting, and you know, less interested in what they have to say.

And it’s clear that in the fallout of campaign 2016, many Americans are less trusting not only of polls, but also government, media and so-called experts.

Michele Green: No one’s an expert on anything okay, they said they are but look what happened, so you can’t be an expert, you can’t be an expert, because no one knows what the future holds, so don’t say this is going to happen when you really don’t know.

Kevin Bretz: I think they were listening to themselves, they were listening to other politicals, and I just don’t think they were listening to the people. And the people spoke last night.

Sharyl Attkisson: Do you trust the media?

Viveka Advani: No, not at all, not at all, not for a second.

In the end, Trump was elected in spite of much the media being against him. Partly, perhaps, because of it.

Donald Trump: The media is so dishonest. Look at them. So dishonest.

It became a rallying cry among his supporters.

Crowds at rally: CNN sucks, CNN sucks.

Howard Kurtz is a media critic and host of media buzz on Fox news.

Howard Kurtz: This was the worst election for the media in my professional lifetime. I mean I don't think it's the kind of thing where a month or two from now, we all just move on. There was a level, a fundamental level of distrust toward the press; a lot of it from the right, but some of it toward the left which didn't like the way that we collectively covered Hillary Clinton. I think there was a stain on our credibility because we have not really come to grips with the underlying forces that caused us to completely and totally miss this election, that what, you turn around the next day and say, oh, here's our analysis of what's going to happen next in the Trump Administration.

A cache of evidence unearthed in emails published by Wikileaks and obtained through Freedom of Information requests also ate into media credibility. They show an unseemly coziness between the news media and political operatives coordinating in ways the public was never meant to see.

Clinton campaign staffers called Politico’s Maggie Haberman an ideal friendly journalist. We have had her tee up stories for us before and have never been disappointed. We can do the most shaping by going to Maggie.

Haberman now works for the New York Times, where Clinton campaign officials say they successfully planted a negative story about a critic. After hitting a wall with other outlets, New York Times will do a story.

Three days later, Haberman published the article. Politico’s Ken Vogel and Glenn Thrush sent story drafts to democrat officials.

Thrush emailed Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta: “Please don’t share or tell anyone I did this because I have become a hack I will send u the whole section that pertains to u. Tell me if I fuc*ed up anything. And Politico’s Mike Allen made an interview pitch for Chelsea Clinton, offering to provide questions precisely agreed upon in advance. No-surprises. I would work with you on topics, and would start with anything she wants to cover or make news on. Quicker than a network hit and reaching an audience you care about with no risk.

Emails indicate political operatives could determine topics and timing of stories. Democrats often discussed placing stories with helpful reporters:

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent to spin negative news on Clinton and make sure the first story out of the gate is as helpful as possible so we can help control the narrative on the front end. Also, a friendly at the AP, a Clinton aide writes, It would be good to frame this a little and frankly to have it break tomorrow when we'll likely be close to or in the midst of a SCOTUS decision taking over the news hyenas.

The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder even explicitly agreed to three “conditions” dictated by a Clinton aide to get his hands on an advance copy of a speech including: You in your own voice describe Hillary’s speech as muscular. Got it. Replied Ambinder.

And then there’s CNBC anchor and New York Times contributor John Harwood, who moderated a Republican debate

John Harwood: Let’s be honest: Is this the comic book version of a presidential campaign?

No it’s not a comic book and it’s not a very nicely asked question.

Behind the scenes, Harwood offered compliments, helpful thoughts and analyses to the Clinton campaign, even asking, what should I ask Jeb in Speakeasy interview tomorrow? And emails show Democratic operative Donna Brazile, then a CNN contributor, secretly funneled questions to the Clinton campaign before CNN debates with Bernie Sanders. Sesno, who used to be a reporter at CNN, says some of the dealings clearly cross an ethical line.

Frank Sesno: When I was covering George Herbert Walker Bush, I was invited to go interview the President, provided I asked him about only one subject, and I said, no, I can't do that. I'm not going to do that. I will not agree to that. Even though it was a hot subject, I would--, I refused to take on those, that burden and those rules and those constraints.

Sharyl: I think a lot of journalists are saying yes, now.

Frank Sesno: A lot of journalists are saying yes, now.

The Big Miss may reflect growing global skepticism of information provided by once-trusted institutions like we saw after the wrong predictions about the UK vote to exit from the European Union or “Brexit.

Howard Kurtz: I don't know if the media can get it right in the next campaign. I think the media can certainly do better in the next campaign, do better at not bringing our own sort of bubble mentality, our own biases and ruling out or writing off candidates before any voting has actually started. The punditry, the prediction, the polls all came up woefully short in this campaign. If we don't do better next time, the remaining credibility that the news business has, is going to shrink even further.

Sharyl: What does it do to our society when widespread swaths of Americans don't trust the government, the Congress, the media, the polls?

Frank Sesno: It’s deep in our DNA. This, this country was created on the backs of people who didn't trust central authority. It was Mark Twain who said: suppose I were an imbecile, and suppose I were a member of Congress, but then I repeat myself. We have held our elected leaders in comedic contempt, almost since the beginning of the republic. So, we need a little bit of balance here; yes, it's a corrosive thing when we have so little confidence in our institutions, and it's a serious problem that needs to be addressed, but we should also understand where that comes from, and some of it comes from the founding of the republic itself.

And a footnote, we at Full Measure try to see things from other views and get outside the media bubble which is what led me to believe very early on that Trump would not only be the nominee, but would likely be elected.


Source: Full Measure News

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