Accuracy in Media

In a mea culpa to its readers, New York Times public editor Liz Spayd tried to explain why the paper, along with a majority of the liberal media, badly missed predicting Donald Trump’s victory on Tuesday:

“On Tuesday afternoon, The New York Times told readers in its Upshot polling feature that Hillary Clinton had an 84 percent chance of winning. And for many weeks leading up to Election Day, The Times delivered a steady stream of stories. One described Clinton’s powerful and well-organized ground operation — and Trump’s frazzled counterattack. Another claimed a surge in the Latino vote that could decide the election. Others speculated on the composition and tenor of a Clinton cabinet. The picture was of a juggernaut of blue state invincibility that mostly dismissed the likelihood of a Trump White House.

Spayd then noted how the 84-percent Upshot figure flipped to 95-percent for Trump as the votes started to come in from the battleground states.

According to Spayd, many Times readers took the opportunity to call the paper out for blowing the election.

“Perhaps the election result would not be such a surprise if your reporting had acknowledged what ordinary Americans care about, rather than pushing the limited agenda of your editors,” wrote one reader. “Please come down from your New York City skyscraper and join the rest of us.”

Spayd then admitted the Times got too caught up with sound-bite coverage of Trump supporters and missed the real reason he was resonating with voters:

“But as The Times begins a period of self-reflection, I hope its editors will think hard about the half of America the paper too seldom covers.

The red state America campaign coverage that rang the loudest in news coverage grew out of Trump rallies, and it often amplified the voices of the most hateful. One especially compelling video produced with footage collected over months on the campaign trail, captured the ugly vitriol like few others. That’s important coverage. But it and pieces like it drowned out the kind of agenda-free, deep narratives that could have taken Times readers deeper into the lives and values of the people who just elected the next president.

In other words, The Times would serve readers well with fewer brief interviews, fewer snatched slogans that inevitably render a narrow caricature of those who spoke them. If you want to further educate yourself on the newly empowered, check out the work of George Packer in The New Yorker. You’ll leave wiser about what just happened. Times journalists can be masters at doing these pieces, but they do them best when describing the lives of struggling immigrants, for example, or those living on the streets.”

The Times, along with the rest of the liberal media, went all out to defeat Trump and they fell flat on their faces. Maybe next time they can actually try to cover the campaign in a fair and honest manner, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

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