CNN and other media outlets ignored polls, focus groups and declared Clinton the winner
Jon Stewart once baptized Fox News “Bullshit Mountain.” In a realm where interests matter more to a news organization than the voter reactions that actually followed the first Democratic debate, CNN should be baptized “Bullshit Central”.
The day after the debate, the #ClintonNewsNetwork hashtag surfaced in reaction to the network’s post debate coverage because at this moment, CNN seems to be a Hillary Clinton propaganda machine instead of a news network. All of the data available shows that Bernie Sanders won the debate. But for CNN the clear winner is (drum roll please)…Hillary Clinton.
Slate, CNN/Time, and Google, polls show that Bernie Sanders was the clear winner. In addition to online polls, Bernie Sanders won all of the focus groups. The Fox News focus group represents one of the biggest discrepancies between what the pundits have been saying, and what Democratic voters have expressed. The Fox News focus group showed that at least half of the almost 30 participants supported Hillary Clinton before the debate, but the number of Hillary supporters dropped to approximately 4 participants in the aftermath of the debate.
Yet CNN’s post coverage was guided by delusion. All you have to do is read a couple of CNN headlines. “Why Clinton dominated”. “Hillary Clinton’s Double Victory”. While these two headlines were accompanied by the clear disclaimer of “opinion,” there seems to be no difference between these pieces and what was suppose to be serious analysis.
For example, CNN chief political analysis Gloria Borger commented, “He (Sanders) spoke to his supporters. He spoke to the base of the Democratic Party. I’m not sure he showed why he’s electable.”
Yeah that makes sense. Democratic debates are unlike GOP debates which are made with a focus of appeal to the Republican base. Democratic debates are not made to appeal to the core members of the party who have consistent progressive principles, but to… who?
The notion that Sanders hasn’t shown “why he’s electable” is totally on point. Because most Americans don’t believe that our political system is dangerously influenced by money, or that mothers deserve paid leave to take care of their children, or that somebody who works 40 hours a week shouldn’t be living in poverty. Right?
Yet, #ClintonNewsNetwork expands further than CNN and includes other news sites that have engaged in this same sort of blind punditry. Publications that lean liberal such as Time Magazine, Vox, and the New York Times have largely declared Hillary Clinton the winner.
The New York Times response leaves much to wish, as the newspaper ran one piece that read “Who Won and Lost the Democratic Debate? The Web Has Its Say”. Usually, when the word “web” is mentioned as a unit of analysis in response to an event, you expect reactions from the average internet users. Probably a tweet, a Facebook post, or an online voting poll.
But NYT wastes no time in declaring, “Hillary Rodham Clinton was the clear victor, according to the opinion shapers in the political world”, followed by quotes and tweets from pundits, without any mention of the online polls.
“Opinion shapers” are not the majority users of the web, they are a select group of people whose life often does not reflect that of the average American internet user. Simply by adding “opinion shapers”, the New York Times suggests what is more important should be what a well off pundit has to say than what average people on social media have clearly expressed. What these pundits are attempting to do is tell the people what they should think instead of analyzing what people are actually thinking and asking why.
Don’t get me wrong, news pundits and commentators exist for the precise reason of shaping public opinion. However, their arguments should be landed in acknowledgement of reality, and if the pundits believe that the people’s opinion is wrong, they have all the right to persuade the people.
The reality is not that Hillary clearly won, and to ignore this reality and completely disregard Democratic voters positions on the debate is to diminish their importance as a part of the electorate in a democratic system. It’s more than delusional; it is an insult to the opinion and concerns of the Democratic voters.
Meanwhile, inferences can be made about CNN’s cheer-leading Clinton through the connections that Clinton’s campaign has with Time Warner, CNN’s parent company. Open Secrets shows that throughout Clinton’s career, Time Warner has donated nearly $500,000 to Clinton.
During the course of the 2016 elections cycle, the media corporation has donated almost $90,000 to the Clinton campaign, making Time Warner one of the top 10 donors of the Clinton campaign for 2016. But there’s nothing wrong with the fourth estate having economic connections with those who have power. Right?
In reality, debates are decided by the viewers, the voters, not the corporate media. Don’t believe the hype.
While I appreciate the passion behind your column and appreciate the passionate support you have for Bernie Sanders, might I suggest that even asking the question “Who Won the Debate?” is to fall into a simplistic conversation pushed by the media—it is to allow the media to frame the context within which we view/evaluate the debate itself and the candidates themselves.
Each of the candidates had a different mission in mind per the debate.
Bernie Sanders was introducing himself to the widest American audience to ever see him in action in one place at one time. And he effectively did so. Of several good moments he had, I have little doubt but that his watching Secretary Clinton’s back on the email issue was his best. In that one moment, he came close to defining the present difference between the Democratic and Republican parties.
Hillary Clinton was showing her policy chops, pushing her experience and, with an assist from Bernie, hoping to tamp down the conversation about her emails—Benghazi, which was always a bogus issue, has become almost a non-issue (one wonders how those parents feel about the Republicans now). Some would say she was hoping to communicate her authenticity but I am not one of those. I have never much doubted her authenticity. Per flip-flops, she is a mere amateur compared to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, the latter having flipped and flopped on Medicare, at one point, 4 times in 2 years. What politician doesn’t, on occasion, say what he/she has to say to get elected? Example: Bernie Sanders on guns. And the “45 times” she mentioned support for the TPP is just a media meme. If you’re making stump speeches, you might mention support for an issue 5 times in one day. Her “45 times” is spread out over 4 years. And, it doesn’t matter, anyway. She supported it. She changed her mind.
Had you asked me, in 1992, about support for marriage equality, I’m pretty sure I would have equivocated to the max. Though my youngest brother was active in the gay rights movement even then, marriage equality, in the south, was secondary or tertiary to the issue of medical care for people afflicted with HIV/AIDS. Now, 23 years later, times have changed, the issues have changed and I have changed. I have core convictions but the ancillary issues around those core convictions have changed over the years and my opinions with them.
Martin O’Malley was introducing himself to the country and, other than messing up the Bernie Sanders attack and apparently forgetting that he endorsed Secretary Clinton in 2008, he had a good moment or so.
Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb need to find honest work.
All of that to say that I think one evaluates a candidate’s debate performance not in terms of the whole but in terms of how well he/she accomplished what he/she set out to do. The media, of course, is not going to typically dive that deep.
And I’d be careful implying that the New York Times is pushing Hillary for anything. Between the decompensating and decomposing Maureen Dowd, who suffers from achievement-envy per Hillary, David Brooks, and a hefty percentage of the editorial staff, they might like to change their letterhead to show her scalp hanging from it.
“Hillary Rodham Clinton was the clear victor, according to the opinion shapers in the political world”
Opinion shapers?! Because we are not competent to form our own opinions!