This past election was one of the most memorable — and sometimes entertaining — ones in recent history. With Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump emerging as the nominees from their respective parties, it set the stage for these two larger-than-life figures to go toe to toe for several months. They certainly did not disappoint.
In the months leading up to the election, there seemed to be a new controversy every week. Perhaps the biggest and most impactful was WikiLeaks releasing emails from John Podesta’s account, revealing the inner workings of the Clinton empire. Democrats contest that these emails and the way the FBI handled their investigation was the reason why Mrs. Clinton lost the election. However, the majority of the controversies surrounded Mr. Trump. Real or manufactured, Mr. Trump and these controversies dominated the airwaves. The media and many politicians on both sides of the aisle were vehemently opposed to Mr. Trump, and it showed. The media decided early on that they would not cover Mr. Trump fairly. Jim Rutenberg, of the NY Times, wrote:
If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?
Because if you believe all of those things, you have to throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century, if not longer, and approach it in a way you’ve never approached anything in your career. If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, nonopinion journalist I’ve ever known, and by normal standards, untenable.
With many journalists feeling the way Mr. Rutenberg does, there has been a concentrated effort to delegitimize Mr. Trump. This ranges from women with allegations of sexual misconduct (in which most have been proven to be false or hearsay) to the more than 10-year-old conversation with Billy Bush, which led for several prominent Republicans and the media to call for his withdrawal from the race.
There have been many other instances where there have been unfair claims made by the media. Most recently, Buzzfeed released a 35-page dossier that included claims that Mr. Trump hired escorts to give “golden showers” on a bed that President Obama and the First Lady previously slept in.
With simmering tensions, these unsubstantiated claims, in which, to their credit, several media outlets refused to publish, seemed to push Trump over the edge and led to the blowup between Mr. Trump and CNN reporter Jim Acosta last week.
For the first time, the media has been openly hostile in their coverage of a candidate. Their efforts to destroy Mr. Trump have alienated many Americans. With their sensationalism and overt bias towards a candidate, the media failed to recognize that a movement was sweeping the country and that many people had started to tune them out. While this is bad for ratings, it is worse for the American people. When reporting became more about fitting the narrative of the opposition to Trump and not about the facts, the media left their credibility behind. This crying “wolf” is dangerous simply because when Trump does something that oversteps his bounds of power or wants to do something that isn’t in the interest of the people who elected him, they no longer have the weapon of the press to keep him in check. Journalists must come back to their original intent. They need to report the facts and let the people decide what to make of it. That will go a long way in healing a nation and ending this hyper-partisanship that has gridlocked everything in Washington.