The election of 2016 was an historic one, but ultimately for much different reasons than we initially thought. The press has a lot to answer for after this year, and I’m no different.
The first time I typed the words “President-Elect Trump” in a story, there was no denying the heavy-yet-hollow feeling I felt in my chest. In the 18-months that we at Latest.com have been reporting about Trump, I stand by much of the analysis I provided.
Trump campaigned as a nativist, an authoritarian, and someone who seemed to actively reject basic political decency. He has advocated for violating Constitutional rights and institutionalizing war crimes. There is a patina of strongman fascism covering the eventual Trump administration. Yet, I was wrong about some very key things, and I should own that.
First, I was dismissive of Trump far longer than I should have been. As soon as he started winning primaries, we in the political press should have treated him like any eventual front-runner. Trump confounded the rest of the press and those with better access about how to cover him, but it’s something, someone should have been able to figure out how to do.
Second, and most importantly, I over-estimated my ability to effectively convey policy analysis in an objective (but not neutral) manner. From a year ago until right this minute, Trump’s proposal to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it is impossible. Even if he goes through with his possibly illegal plan to halt remittances, there simply won’t be enough money to pay for that kind of construction project.
Yet, perhaps because a vast majority of Americans don’t trust press reports or analysis that sound vaguely like “the liberal media,” people were able to dismiss this as simply “being in the tank” for one of the other candidates.
As evidenced by the thin margins in the states Trump won on Tuesday, the assertion that there was only one candidate–Hillary Clinton–that could have stopped him is true. Yet, in conveying that perhaps some readers assumed I was campaigning for her. I was not, but my objective analysis was in the larger terms of protecting the republic and rejecting proto-fascism, Clinton was the only liberty-loving American’s choice.
Again, this is analysis I stand by even now. Yet, I apologize because I didn’t take the time to more effectively make that distinction. My role here is to provide you with information you need to know in the voting booth and about what’s going on in the world. News reports are supposed to provide you with the information you need to make up your mind, not to tell you how to think. Perhaps in my zeal to repudiate who I believe to be the biggest con-man in politics, I lost sight of that.
When I dismissed Donald Trump’s chances of winning, it probably seemed like arrogance. That’s probably fair in hindsight. Yet, I assure you, that what seemed like arrogance was really just an underlying belief that enough Americans would reject what’s bad about him in order to prevent his ascension to power. In this respect, I was not only wrong, but–after talking with dozens of Trump supporters on social media today–find that Trump supporters reject that premise altogether.
So where do we go from here? For my part, I will continue to do what we do best at Latest.com, tell you about the noteworthy things that happen in politics and to everyday Americans. I will still provide my honest, objective analysis about politics and policy, but will endeavor to do so in a way that engenders trust in the stories I report.
I want to thank you, the readers who disagree with me and those who do not, for following this campaign with us. Despite my failings this year, it’s been a rare and burdensome privilege to report the news about these tumultuous times. Regardless of what happens now, the next four years are going to be trying times. We’ve come this far together already, we might as well see this thing through.
What do you think? Share your thoughts, reactions, criticisms, and pity in the comments below!