The biggest election losers: Political media and pollsters
Whatever the ultimate result of the presidential election, the biggest losers were President Trump’s greatest enemies: the political media and their colleagues in the polling organizations.
As one media-monitoring organization concluded, more than 95 percent of national media reporting and comment on President Trump was hostile. They showed astonishing consistency and perseverance in devising false accusations to hurl at him every week of the election campaign. To the very end of the campaign, Democrat Joe Biden was angrily repeating the pure fabrication that Trump had described America’s war dead as “losers and suckers.” The famous author of the “Anonymous” op-ed attack, published two years ago by the New York Times as coming from a prominent administration insider, proved to be from a junior official in the Homeland Security department.
Historians of the future will identify the reasons for the frenzied, relentless and frequently dishonest attacks from almost the entire media on Trump and his administration. I suspect the reason was simple: Trump, when he ran in 2016, attacked the entire political class and specifically identified the national political media as culprits in the abuse of their craft and positions and their failure to serve and inform the public with any integrity — so the media felt both threatened and vengeful, and a collective psychology took hold that they must destroy the president or be destroyed by him.
Trump appears to have lost the election but not the admiration of scores of followers because of the importance of his achievements as president — and the new, promising direction he has given the Republican Party as it encroaches heavily on the traditional Democratic hold over the votes of the working classes and ethnic minorities.
All of the traditional television networks, the cable news networks except for Fox (and it, too, had its wobbly moments), the public broadcasters and almost all the major newspapers and magazines were constant, uniform, profoundly dishonest and nauseatingly self-righteous in their endless denigration of the president. And the principal media outlets were all associated with polling organizations, which faithfully reflected the biases of their media affiliates.
Charitable observers of the debacle of the polls, almost all of which wildly overestimated public support for Biden and the Democrats generally, have attributed that failure to the public’s equating of the poll-takers with the media, their transfer to the pollsters of their mistrust of the media, and their resulting reluctance to speak to polling organizations. It is difficult to give the benefit of a charitable interpretation to organizations that were incapable themselves of charity. It is more likely that many polling organizations, whether under instruction from their media partners or spontaneously, set out with malice aforethought to misrepresent the state of public opinion and create an ambience of the inevitable defeat of the president.
Very few prominent national media outlets or polling organizations escape the opprobrium due the authors of this scurrilous assault on the president and his party. One of the more humorous post-election outbursts was the New York Times’ attack on the aggregator-site RealClearPolitics (RCP). The Times’ Nate Cohn attacked RCP for the inaccuracy of its daily average of polls; RCP chairman Tom Bevan replied by reciting the unbroken consistency of the Times’ fatuously inaccurate polling results throughout the campaign, always wildly skewed against Trump. In fact, the polls that furnished RCP’s average were almost all arms of media organizations that spent the past four years trying to destroy the president and so, accordingly, any average of them was likely to be rubbish.
The fact that Trump ran as strongly as he did, that nothing occurred even remotely resembling the blue Democratic wave that the orchestrated media and poll-takers predicted and promoted, and the strength of the Republican vote in the congressional elections, all demonstrate the moral bankruptcy and squandered credibility of the media and the polling organizations.
Somehow, the self-inflicted damage of the media seemed to reach its nadir with Twitter’s announcement by its “Civic Integrity” unit of a cautionary warning about the accuracy of one of the president’s claims on Election Night; I thought at first that it was a sendup from “Saturday Night Live,” an initiative so pompous and absurd that it had to be the work of comedians. But this is indicative of the delusional righteousness of the contemporary American political media. Even Fox News was not immune; it fiercely defended the quality of its polls even though, half an hour before, it erroneously declared North Carolina 83 percent likely to vote for Biden. And veteran Fox newscaster Chris Wallace, responding to the president’s Election Night announcement that he would move legally to block the Democrats’ attempted theft of the election, histrionically popped off about Trump throwing a lighted match into a pool of gasoline.
Wherever it goes from here, Trump has been an outstandingly successful president, an original, important political leader and renovator of the moribund Bush-McCain-Romney Republican Party, whom the nation’s political media generally have despised. The poll-takers are a joke, and it will take decades of “civic integrity” for them to reacquire any credibility. Even if they reoccupy the White House, the Democrats are in shambles; they are losing their base, have thoroughly incompetent national office nominees, and will not be liberated from their compromised ethics soon or easily. And Biden, once in office, may sweep away the plodding John Durham investigation of the suspected unconstitutional assault on Trump’s election, as well as any serious investigation of the alleged avarice of Biden’s own family members while he was vice president.
But the Democrats’ exploitation of the COVID-19 crisis to produce an unprecedented farrago of electoral peculiarities through ballot-harvesting will not have an effortless passage through the courts. Joe Biden spoke of a “dark winter” coming. If it happens, he and his handlers and backers will be the chief architects of it.
Conrad Black is an essayist, former newspaper publisher, and author of ten books, including three on Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Richard Nixon and Donald Trump. Follow him on Twitter @ConradMBlack.