When you think about how close Election 2016 was it was probably poor journalistic judgment that changed the course of American history

 

—Ian Millhiser, interviewed by Mike Signorile

The shame is wide, failures are deep and blame spreads far.

Expressing public regret ain’t easy, I get it. Admitting mistakes is even more difficult when, as a for-profit media conglomerate, your news business is fantastically profitable and there’s ZERO incentive to say “our bad.”

The New York Times consistently makes me cranky AF and I’ve covered them in this space a great deal (here and here) because, as Millhiser stated, they bear a good portion of blame for exploding global order.

NYT’s D.C. bureau is helplessly broken; access “palace intrigue” journalists like Ken Vogel and Maggie Haberman have repeatedly a crap all over basic journalism standards. The “Paper of Record” has been, for decades, openly hostile to the Clintons to the point of publishing “Clinton Cash” nonsense in ’16, for which they should also apologize.

The paper suffers from incurable split-personality disorder because NYT is winning Pulitzers for separate deep-dive coverage of Traitor in Chief and other stories.

Donald’s hollowed-out and corrupt State Department led by Mike “End of Days” Pompeo announced this week that there was no wrongdoing on the part of Hillary and the email investigation’s closed. This news barely made a blip on our screens since scandal and cartoonish malfeasance has crowded out the nation’s other news.

Or perhaps because they’re lazy and want new, shiny stories to report.

For the good of the nation: Retract and apologize

When it comes to NYT’s (and broader media’s) failures in editorial priorities during 2016’s doomed election, we deserve a retraction and an apology—from reporters, editors and publishers who made this nightmare a reality.

If you look back to 2016 there was more coverage of Hillary’s emails in six days on the front page of the New York Times than there was of all policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election.

“If you look back to 2016 there was more coverage of Hillary’s email in six days on the front page of the New York Times than there was coverage of all policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election,” Vox’s Ian Millhiser told Michelangelo Signorile on SiriusXM Progress earlier this week.

“It shows some extraordinarily poor journalistic judgment; when you think about how close the election was it was probably poor journalistic judgment that changed the course of American history.”

Hillary was not media’s only mistake; they normalized Donald Trump and his people to the point where it legitimized a New York City criminal mafia masquerading as a presidential campaign.

Congrats media: Manafort’s felony charges are partly yours to own [UPDATED]

Given where we are now, with the House about to impeach Trump and his entire administration* roped off as a crime scene, American media needs to broadly retract those Hillary email stories and apologize for putting us through this dystopian hellscape. Now.

Here’s how it’s done

I’ve made the editorial judgment not to name-and-shame individual journalists other than those mentioned, even though the thought has crossed my mind. Copious footage exists of breathless TV and print journos stepping all over themselves to stick it to that frosty mean white lady nobody likes. They know who they are and what they did.

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin recently issued a tweet taking responsibility for his role in pushing tired “but her emails!” trope. It’s a start, sure, but it ain’t enough.

I did NOT spend a year in graduate-journalism school to watch highly paid yutzes destroy our critically important craft. In this business reputations matter and it’s high time they stand up and take responsibility.

And so: until we get A1 retractions and official statements from publishers admitting they fucked up I will not be paying a single dime for their rags—EVER again. And I’ll continue to drag them on Twitter until they do. 🇨

(Writer’s note: have a look at my “Fourth Estate is Dead” post, written just after the election detailing national-media failures. That project was difficult to write but it has some prescriptions for how journalism can rebound and improve.)


Will Pollocksideways is a perpetually crabby New York City escapee based in Midtown Atlanta. He’s a freelance multimedia journalist, media analyst and author of two books (award-wining Pizza for Good & Leaving Triscuit), with more on the way.

In 2001, Will earned his Masters from The Medill School of Journalism, graduating with highest honors from the magazine sequence. As permanent member of Journalism’s National Honors Society, he’s been active in monitoring, writing and blogging about media and journalism ever since he graduated.

Obsessed with good storytelling and journalistic excellence, Will uses snark, humor and reason to distill dumb shit and make it fun. He’s a seeker/maker of non-consensus news, and helps you cure crankies by finding the nut in every story.

As for-profit media continues to fail us, it’s more important than ever to find reliable sources. Authentic storytelling exists—you just have to look for it. On this blog you’ll get ideas, not ideology. Sass with class. Reporting with rapport. Evidence with a touch of evil. You get the idea.

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