So far in our reader series exploring the reasons why so many Americans voted for Donald Trump, we’ve heard from an array of perspectives:
- A reader who didn’t vote for Trump but empathizes with many of his voters’ resentments, namely how they’re unfairly cast as bigots. (Other readers pushed back on that note.)
- A reader who served in the U.S. military and is the son of Indian immigrants who agrees that Trump voters are too easily demonized as a “basket of deplorables” but nevertheless worries that Trump’s demagoguery will marginalize non-white Americans such as himself.
- A reader in Texas—married to a Mexican-American woman with two daughters—reluctantly voted for Trump because of a deep aversion to the identity politics he sees escalating on the left.
- A reader in the South describes in detail his moderately conservative worldview but ends up voting for Trump as a “wrecking ball” to Washington and a “middle finger” to the elite establishment. (Many readers pushed back on that hugely popular note.)
- A Hispanic reader who was naturalized as a U.S. citizen voted for Trump out of a disdain for dynastic politics and the deep establishment ties of the “Clinton machine.”
- A reader who describes himself as “brown, bearded, son of immigrants” voted for Trump because of what he perceived as an unfair pile-on from the mainstream media. (His note was joined by an African immigrant who relates to a lot of what Trump voters are thinking but who nevertheless fears and opposes their leader.)
Lindsey is another reader who is upset by what she sees as the media’s posture against Trump:
I’m a college-educated, female, lifelong Republican (who voted 3rd party this year), but I woke up the day after the election excited to see mea culpas from pop culture figures and mainstream media. “Finally,” I thought, “they are going to take responsibility for giving Trump a billion dollars of free exposure and for allowing Hillary to coast scrutiny-free through the primaries.”
Do you know what I found instead? A series of tone-deaf meltdowns and a barrage of more of the same insults that my people have heard so often that they have lost their meanings.
I kept a running list of all of the snotty headlines I saw from the “balanced” mainstream media sites on Wednesday, to help explain to my future children why Trump supporters did not CARE what mainstream says. (Kudos to the WSJ bucking the trend: “‘Deplorables’ Rise Up to Reshape America.”) Try to read the following headlines from the perspective of a child who is 15 years removed from this week’s kerfuffle:
- “Obama has handed a surveillance state and war machine to a maniac”
- “There’s no way around it: Donald Trump looks like a disaster for our planet”
- “Donald Trump Has Broken the Constitution”
- “Trump’s Victory Sends a Disturbing Message to Women and Girls”
- “Want to Move to Canada? Europe? Somewhere? Trump’s Impact Will Follow You”
- “The story of America’s post-election grief, as told through Google searches”
- “Trump won because college-educated Americans are out of touch”
- “I’m Afraid For My Grandchildren”
Grief. Fear. Disturbing. Broken. Maniac. Disaster. Can you take a step back from nodding at those headlines to see their negative bias? If you can’t, here is a list of article topics I would have liked to see more of the day after the election, things I wish I could expect from responsible, fair-minded journalists:
- Kellyanne Conway is the First Woman to Run a Victorious Presidential Campaign! Who is she? What else has she done?
- Who was the previous immigrant First Lady?
- Likely Donald Trump cabinet picks?
- Likely Donald Trump Supreme Court picks?
- Lame Duck Obama: What’s on the agenda?
The ultimate form of tolerance is hearing people say negative things about you and ignoring it. The ultimate form of confidence is hearing every celebrity and mainstream media outlet in the nation insult your values and still create enough cognitive dissonance to like them and buy their products. These are the two great virtues of the average Trump voter.
Disagree with Lindsey’s assessment here? Drop us a note and we’ll keep the debate going. Update from reader Bridgit:
While there are plenty of reasons to critique the media after this election, and I believe considered skepticism is an admirable quality, Lindsey’s
commentary illustrates two problems facing this country. First, it is unfortunate that a college educated person cannot differentiate between opinion and news pieces. Of the eight headlines Lindsey supplies, only two are actual news, and the rest are commentary pieces.
Secondly, there is a complete lack of balance to her sources-the “mainstream” (read: “liberal”) media is far from the only guilty party here. There are plenty of excited, opinionated, uncritical headlines praising Trump from the “alternative” (read: “conservative”) media websites. I am hopeful Lindsey saved some Fox News headlines from Obama’s 2008 campaign and election to show her children? I clearly remember the cable network calling a fist bump between the Obamas a “terrorist fist jab.”
That’s nothing compared to the perpetual propaganda campaign by Sean Hannity on behalf of Trump this election cycle (even to the point where Fox News had to tell Hannity to stop appearing in more campaign ads for Trump). One estimate—all the way back in August—put the dollar amount of free airtime for Trump on behalf of Hannity at $31 million. (All of the donations to the Clinton campaign by journalists combined didn’t even reach $400,000.) Here’s just one of Hannity’s propagandist efforts, from a “town hall” with Trump in Wisconsin—a traditionally solid blue state he ended up winning in the general election:
Update from another reader:
That clip you posted of mainstream journalists laughing at the prospect of Trump winning the nomination—let alone the presidency—made me think of this legendary act of media smugness, from The Huffington Post:
After watching and listening to Donald Trump since he announced his candidacy for president, we have decided we won’t report on Trump’s campaign as part of The Huffington Post’s political coverage. Instead, we will cover his campaign as part of our Entertainment section. Our reason is simple: Trump’s campaign is a sideshow. We won’t take the bait. If you are interested in what The Donald has to say, you’ll find it next to our stories on the Kardashians and The Bachelorette.
I noticed that one of the bylines on that announcement is Ryan Grimm, who days before the election went after Nate Silver for “unskewing polls—all of them—in favor of Donald Trump”:
By monkeying around with the numbers like this, Silver is making a mockery of the very forecasting industry that he popularized. [...] I get why Silver wants to hedge. It’s not easy to sit here and tell you that Clinton has a 98 percent chance of winning. Everything inside us screams out that life is too full of uncertainty, that being so sure is just a fantasy. But that’s what the numbers say. What is the point of all the data entry, all the math, all the modeling, if when the moment of truth comes we throw our hands up and say, hey, anything can happen. If that’s how we feel, let’s scrap the entire political forecasting industry.
Here’s Robert, a reader in Seattle, with another critique of the media, this time from the perspective of a Sanders supporter (“In both foresight and hindsight, Sanders would have been the candidate the country actually wanted most”—defeating Trump). Robert continues with the kind of impassioned and deft criticism of elites that demonstrates how much of a crossover election this really was:
The “liberal” media, as usual, being corporate-owned, is focusing on the trashy side of Trump support rather than take on the corporatist control of our government (and media) which both informed progressives and a large portion of Trump voters see as an existential threat.