Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Required Reading

Quite a lot of discussion in the blogosphere of this study in Columbia Journalism Review but you must read it or you will be profoundly negligent. Bottom line, don't blame Fake News for the 2016 election, blame -- oh wait, do blame Fake News, specifically the New York Times.

Like I say, you must read it, but I'll give you a money shot. This is an analysis of New York Times coverage, but it is representative of the corporate media in general:

Of the 1,433 articles that mentioned Trump or Clinton, 291 were devoted to scandals or other personal matters while only 70 mentioned policy, and of these only 60 mentioned any details of either candidate’s positions. In other words, comparing the two datasets, the number of Personal/Scandal stories for every Policy story ranged from 3.4 (for front-page stories) to 4.2. Further restricting to Policy stories that contained some detail about at least one candidate’s positions, these ratios rise to 5.5 and 4.85, respectively. . . .

The problem is this: As has become clear since the election, there were profound differences between the two candidates’ policies, and these differences are already proving enormously consequential to the American people. . . . In light of the stark policy choices facing voters in the 2016 election, it seems incredible that only five out of 150 front-page articles that The New York Times ran over the last, most critical months of the election, attempted to compare the candidate’s policies, while only 10 described the policies of either candidate in any detail.

In this context, 10 is an interesting figure because it is also the number of front-page stories the Times ran on the Hillary Clinton email scandal in just six days, from October 29 (the day after FBI Director James Comey announced his decision to reopen his investigation of possible wrongdoing by Clinton) through November 3, just five days before the election. When compared with the Times’s overall coverage of the campaign, the intensity of focus on this one issue is extraordinary. To reiterate, in just six days, The New York Times ran as many cover stories about Hillary Clinton’s emails as they did about all policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election (and that does not include the three additional articles on October 18, and November 6 and 7, or the two articles on the emails taken from John Podesta). This intense focus on the email scandal cannot be written off as inconsequential: The Comey incident and its subsequent impact on Clinton’s approval rating among undecided voters could very well have tipped the election.
Comes the question: Why? I should add that the e-mail "scandal" was not a scandal at all. Clinton's use of a private e-mail server was a) completely legal, b) consistent with State Department policy at the time, c) was done at the suggestion of Colin Powell, who did the same thing, and d) did not result in any leak of classified information. It is completely ginned up nonsense. By the way, she did not at any time lie to the FBI or anybody else about it, as the FBI has confirmed. No, it probably was not a good idea.

The editors of the Times have completely refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing, errors in judgment, or responsibility.

1 comment:

Don Quixote said...

They (the NY Times) are part of the corporate media. "All the news that's fit to print"--but not what we actually need to hear, just what's being talked about. Only Krugman and Roger Cohen and occasional other op-ed contributors are sounding the alarm.

I'm growing increasingly despairing that the country will escape its descent into authoritarianism without Trump's resignation, impeachment or assassination.