The Mainstream Media are Misjudging Donald trump

Howard Kurtz,

If Donald Trump can continue to gain ground in a few key states by next Tuesday, he will win the presidency.

I’m not making any predictions. I’m not for or against Trump. He still faces an uphill climb, given the Democrats’ inherent Electoral College advantage, and would need to grab a major blue state. But with polling gains in such states as Nevada, Colorado, North Carolina and New Hampshire, Trump has enough of a path that with four days to go, he still has a shot. 

How, one might ask, is that possible, given the extraordinary media avalanche that has tried to bury him?

How can he still be competitive after most of the country’s newspapers and magazines have not just opposed him, but said he is utterly beyond the pale as a plausible president?

What does that say about the media?

It is beyond dispute that Trump has drawn far more coverage, and far more negative coverage than Hillary Clinton, and that some media critics have applauded this imbalance.

votersvotetrump_small The Mainstream Media are Misjudging Donald trump Opinion

And the public gets it. Check out this USA Today poll: “By nearly 10-1, all those surveyed say the news media, including major newspapers and TV stations, would like to see Clinton rather than Trump elected. That includes 82 percent of Trump supporters and 74 percent of Clinton supporters.”

On the opinion side, this will give you the flavor of the media opposition. A New York Times editorial says that from the moment he got in the race, “it became clear that Mr. Trump’s views were matters of dangerous impulse and cynical pandering rather than thoughtful politics. Yet he has attracted throngs of Americans who ascribe higher purpose to him than he has demonstrated in a freewheeling campaign marked by bursts of false and outrageous allegations, personal insults, xenophobic nationalism, unapologetic sexism and positions that shift according to his audience and his whims.”

A Washington Post editorial: “Mr. Trump…has shown himself to be bigoted, ignorant, deceitful, narcissistic, vengeful, petty, misogynistic, fiscally reckless, intellectually lazy, contemptuous of democracy and enamored of America’s enemies. As president, he would pose a grave danger to the nation and the world.”

Trump has also been opposed by papers that never endorse, like USA Today; by papers that have never backed a Democrat, like the Arizona Republic (126 years); by magazines that haven’t endorsed in 52 years, like the Atlantic. Plus, Trump has much of the conservative media establishment, including National Review and the Weekly Standard, doggedly against him.

Now the GOP nominee, for his part, has run hard against the “disgustingly dishonest” media. And obviously the media, for all their agenda-setting influence, don’t control the outcome of elections.

But what does it say that most of the media establishment is so relentlessly negative against a guy who is going to win at least 20 states and possibly more?

To me, it goes back to the way the MSM originally dismissed Trump as a sideshow and a joke, a guy who deserved to be in the Huffington Post’s Entertainment section. But it goes far deeper than that.

The reason the media missed the rise of Trump is that they were out of touch with the anger and frustration of so many voters, especially working-class Americans. And even now, there is too little empathy for these voters and too little understanding of what motivates them, especially in certain precincts of New York, Washington and L.A.

Instead, there is plenty of condescension toward these voters, a feeling that they’re racist or xenophobic or just so ill-informed that they don’t realize that Trump is selling them snake oil.

Here is Times columnist Charles Blow declaring Trump an “existential threat,” declaring “with my last breath: America, are you (expletive) kidding?!

“I simply cannot wrap my head around how others with level heads and sound minds can even consider Trump for president of this country and leader of the free world.”

What a message: America, you must be dumb or crazy to support this guy.

Beginning next Wednesday, there will be plenty of hand-wringing about the ugly campaign, the Clinton investigations, the future of the Republican Party and so on. But perhaps the media need to engage in some soul-searching about why a good chunk of the country doesn’t view Trump and his appeal with the utter disdain that they do.