unknownIf there is one lesson that has already been learned from the 2016 election, it is that the media does actually matter . . . just not in the way that we had hoped. There has been a pronounced and rising bias against Donald Trump in the media. Some of the negative stories can be laid at the candidate’s own feet for controversial statements and actions. However, it has taken me back how consistent and aggressive the anti-Trump coverage has been in the mainstream media. It is as if Trump was declared the sole exception to the cherished media neutrality rules in this country. However, there has been an interesting response from the public, which views the mainstream media as a critical part of the “establishment.” The more the media drumbeat the call to defeat Trump, the more the public seems to swing toward the candidate. At the end of this election, the media needs to seriously examine its conduct in coverages, including the many Wikileaks emails showing both bias and coordination in favor of the Clinton campaign. One start would be something that I have long advocated: the media must stop endorsing political candidates.

Media endorsements have long been problematic for me. Reporters and editors insist that they are honest brokers of the news and neutral in their treatment. They then come out and advocate for one to win — often with little surprise to readers given their past coverage. The media endorsement is based on a belief that the media is in a unique position to tell voters which is the best candidate. It is a conceit that undermines their credibility and fuels the type of bias that we have seen in this election.

This is not an indictment of all reporters. I write and work with journalists and the vast majority take serious efforts to maintain their objectivity even when they do not like a candidate like Trump. It can take a lot of effort with a candidate singling you out in a massive crowd for name calling and derision. Most do an incredible job in overcoming their natural feelings toward someone who is relentless in his attacks. Yet, Trump is right about the overwhelming tenor of coverage and the comparison of the coverage given Clinton.

Media endorsements blur what should be a bright-line rule of neutrality. The media should inform not direct the public. There has been too much of the latter in this election.

The “great ones” like Edward R. Murrow were honored for their integrity and honesty. The public clearly see little of that in contemporary coverage. It is wrong about the media. There is plenty of both values. There are plenty of honest reporters. However, this is a self-inflicted wound. The response of the public is not just a rejection of the establishment but a clear signal that the public no longer trusts the media. It is the establishment. The more that the media portrays Trump as threatening the stability of Washington or the country, the more some voters are drawn to him. Many want change at any cost and, for better or worse, Trump is viewed as change. The media has much work to do to convince the public that it is not just the handmaiden to the establishment. Dropping media endorsements would be a significant, if largely symbolic, start.

What do you think?


  1. What are these cherished media neutrality rules you speak of? The mainstream media’s been sliming Republicans, conservatives and Tea Partiers since … always. Just not so obviously and with such overt pride.

  2. Fox News wrongly links Republican anti-Trump protester to voter fraud
    Exclusive: Report implicated Austyn Crites in scam involving his ‘dead’ grandmother but Guardian can reveal she is alive and well

    Fox News has falsely implicated the protester who was beaten up at a Donald Trump rally in a case of voter fraud involving absentee ballots issued in the name of his “dead” grandmother.

    Austyn Crites, a Republican protester who was assaulted at a Trump rally in Nevada, was stunned to see a TV report associating him with fraudulent voting connected to a grandmother Fox News claimed died in 2002.

    However, the Guardian met Wilda Austin, 90, in her living room in suburban Reno late on Monday. She was alive and well, although somewhat baffled that she was having to prove her identity to correct a TV broadcast that reported that she died 14 years ago.

    Election polls open in US after Clinton and Trump make final pitches
    Read more
    “Please correct the record,” she said, arms crossed.

    She declined to appear on camera, in part because the family has been subjected to a torrent of abuse and threats since Crites, 33, an inventor, was ejected from the Trump rally for holding a sign that read “Republicans against Trump.”

    He was punched, kicked, wrestled to the ground and held in a chokehold by Trump supporters at the rally. The incident led to a security scare after someone in the crowd shouted that he was armed, sparking panic through the auditorium and prompting security service agents to rush the nominee from the stage…

    Although his grandmother did not want to appear on camera, she did agree to meet Jacqueline Evans, a licensed notary for the state of Nevada, who was hired by the Guardian to inspect Wilda Austin’s social security documents and birth certificate and check her signature.

    She verified her signature, took her thumbprint, and obtained a sworn affidavit confirming her identity. Evans said she was satisfied about Wilda Austin’s identity. “Wilda’s very much is alive,” she said.

  3. Bob Schieffer was groussing on CBS yesterday, recounting how this is the worst campaign he’s ever covered, probably since Lincoln, his disgust obviously aimed at Trump, without actually saying Trump’s name. Everything about Schieffer’s composure was about hatred, which he tried to feign aimed at both candidates but anyone could see it was only hatred for Trump. In reality, I think what’s Schieffer is so bent out of shape over is the fact that the American public now hates the mainstream media as much as Schieffer hates Trump. Schieffer can’t come to grips with the fact that his profession has gone so far into the sewer, no longer the Fourth Estate as a check on government, but a profession whose ranks are littered with lies, corruption, dishonesty, and fraud, all of which have besmirched every member of the press now, including Schieffer himself. But Schieffer is in so much denial about his own culpability, he dishonestly directs his disgust not towards the media and himself but only towards Trump. Schieffer is a worn out, insignificant curmudgeon who should have faded away about fifty years ago. He longs for the days when members of his profession actually were respected, but he will go to the grave a disgraced man, long dead before honor will ever grace the mainstream media again.

  4. My local newspaper doesn’t do endorsements. Why? The voters get to decide. They run letters to the editor praising various candidates, but reject those pulling them down. Legitimate news is run, but not negative opinions.

    1. One other thing, they run editorials that make me believe that have two editorial writers, one who leans left and another who leans right. Both get their say on controversial issues.

  5. Newspaper editors traditionally endorse candidates. I think other media editors ought to do the same.

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