Yes, Hillary, the media did help Trump win. But so did your team.
Former Democratic-party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is back doing what she does best: selling books. What Happened, her newest, doesn’t feature a question. It has answers. Clinton blames the FBI. She blames sexism and fake news. She blames the “godforsaken” Electoral College and the “deep currents of anger and resentment” running through society.
She also blames Senator Bernie Sanders, for out-promising her at every turn. She probably blames clandestine Russian mind-control laser beams for persuading tens of millions of Americans that she was nothing more than a calculating, deceptive, and insipid career politician.
And she blames the media. Political journalists, writes Clinton, “can’t bear to face their own role in helping elect Trump.” Now, hearing a Democrat argue that the institutional media weren’t accommodating enough in helping her win an election is, I admit, a bit jarring. Support from journalists is so embedded in the Democratic party’s strategy that any negative coverage — even something as unavoidable as writing about an unprecedented FBI investigation into a leading presidential candidate — must be quashed.
Yet Clinton’s claim happens to contain a morsel of truth, if not in the way she intended. When supporting Trump seemed advantageous, the media — not only left-leaning outlets such as CNN or the Washington Post but also ratings chasers such as NBC’s Joe Scarborough — did much to help lift the fortunes of the soon-to-be president. This was obvious to anyone observing coverage of the primaries. But for those who need confirmation, a study by the Harvard Kennedy School Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy found that during 2015, major news outlets covered Trump “in a way that was unusual given his low initial polling numbers — a high volume of media coverage preceded Trump’s rise in the polls.”