We were right.
In the time leading up to the 2016 presidential election, 65,844,610 Americans saw through the bullshit. We saw through a man running on a supposed business acumen who accrued a total of 6 bankruptcies. We saw through an Islamophobe who purchased property from Middle Eastern sheiks. We saw through a xenophobe who benefitted from the labor of undocumented immigrants at his properties. We saw through a man who openly discriminated against African-Americans and claimed to be their savior. And we saw through a man whose open misogyny, sexism, and sexual assaults were simply brushed off as "locker room talk."
But in the end, it wasn't enough. Thanks to a perfect storm of Russian cyber warfare, Russian plant Jill Stein, Russian stooge Bernie Sanders, James Comey's last minute announcement, an antiquated electoral system designed to empower southern slaveholders, and typical American apathy, our nation "elected" a human tire fire, the most unqualified and vile man to ever serve as our commander-in-chief. In the days immediately following the election, the political "experts" in our country struggled to identify how and why one of the most qualified candidates to ever run for our nation's highest office was defeated by the most unqualified candidates to ever earn his party's nomination. Over the weeks to come, theory after theory would be presented ranging from a "Whitelash" against Barack Obama to Democrats' inability to connect to the working class, to Hillary Clinton being a "flawed candidate" who should have stepped aside to make way for a younger generation of Democratic candidates. With all these theories, our country's media had countless opportunities to present the election result as one giant puzzle that may never be solved.
This presentation is by design. Because our country's media thrives on uncertainty and unknowing. It is why CNN can spend weeks on the disappearance of a single airliner despite there being no new evidence at any point. Despite the intent of news to inform, it has now become entertainment and, more disheartening, entertainment geared toward profitability. The more mysterious a news event, the more people will tune in. The more people that tune in, the higher the ratings. The higher the ratings, the more willing advertisers are to sell their products on the airwaves. The more advertisers that sell their products, the more money for executives and, more importantly, the parent corporations. Since the quiz show scandals of the 1950s, network executives and advertisers have seen the ability of entertainment television to maximize profits while simultaneously misleading their viewers. In a world where money is king, truth more often than not takes a backseat to profit.
And nowhere was this business model more prevalent than the 2016 election.
American media companies rely on drama for their political coverage. They need national elections to be competitive or else nobody tunes in. At the start of the 2016 presidential election cycle, this presented a problem on the Democratic side where Hillary Clinton was expected to cruise to victory over both Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders. So the media took it upon itself to drum up any potential drama by refusing to attack O'Malley and Sanders while simultaneously attempting to bring down Clinton. A prime example of this is the January piece from The Intercept describing Clinton's speaking fees in her post-political career after leaving the State Department. Speaking fees were nothing new for ex-politicians but presented in the way that it was, The Intercept gave the impression that Clinton would somehow be beholden to companies like Goldman Sachs if elected president. This issue gave fodder to Bernie Sanders as well as the political pundits who had made a career of questioning the motives of Hillary Clinton. The media now had an opening and they took it and ran with it.
But the source of this story should have come as no surprise. The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald has been a notorious Barack Obama critic while simultaneously praising the "patriotism" of Edward Snowden. Greenwald had a horse in this race and while he may not have been on board the Donald Trump Express, he certainly felt no allegiance to Hillary Clinton, who had emerged as the heir apparent to continue Barack Obama's policies and cement his legacy. As someone who has gone on record supporting Wikileaks, it would be assumed that Greenwald would demand equal transparency from all candidates. However, like most media outlets, the team at The Intercept went all in on Hillary Clinton while avoiding any disparaging pieces against either Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump.
And it would be this theme of the media refusing to vet Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump that would eventually lead to a seemingly competitive race. Throughout the Democratic primary, the media refused to vet Bernie Sanders despite there being a mountain of disparaging stories against him. Even Donald Trump was able to skate by, thanks largely to general apathy by the American news media. It was not until Marco Rubio mentioned Trump University in a late-February debate that the media began to acknowledge Trump's failed business practices. It was not until Hillary Clinton mentioned Alicia Machado in a late-September debate that the media began to acknowledge Trump's treatment of women. And it was not until the final debate when Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump a "puppet" of Putin that the media finally began to question the relationship between Trump and the Russian president.
But as disheartening as all this was, perhaps worst of all was the false equivalencies presented by the mainstream media throughout the campaign, specifically dealing with the Hillary Clinton private email server. Whereas Donald Trump would receive three times as much policy coverage, what little policy coverage Clinton did get would be largely related to her private email server. This included a massive spike in coverage immediately following the James Comey announcement on October 29th at a time when early voting had begun in dozens of states and when Clinton had a sizeable lead over Trump. By continuing to focus on the email server, the mainstream media gave undecided voters an easy out to claim that both candidates were corrupt and thus unworthy of their vote. By the end of the campaign, both Clinton and Trump had historically low likeability ratings despite the fact that Clinton was on record as being the most truthful candidate running for higher office. Yet it ultimately was the unfounded public perception of Clinton as being fundamentally dishonest that left the most prominent impression in the voters' minds.
Since the media clearly had a role in helping to elect Donald Trump, they now must attempt to absolve themselves from any and all culpability. In order to do this, they have to continue to book guests who instill a sense of doubt as to how and why the election unfolded the way that it did. It's why the media continues to interview Trump supporters in deep-red areas, as if the fact that these people still support him is somehow an unsolved mystery. It's why the media continues to interview former Trump supporters, as if the fact that these people regret their vote would have somehow changed the outcome of the 2016 election. And it's why the media continues to interview members of the White working class, as if the fact that these people bought into fake news and false accusations would somehow excuse their vote against their own self-interests.
But one group the media won't talk to is Hillary Clinton supporters. Because we know that part of the mystery as to how and why Donald Trump was elected is the media itself. In their twenty-five year quest to bring down a strong, independent woman, the media has continuously done whatever it could to make life difficult for her. Within the media exists a world of Andrea Mitchells who simply love to see the Clinton family fail. A world of Robert Reichs who still hold grudges to this day. A world of HA Goodmans who hate Hillary Clinton because they can't think for themselves. A world of Cenk Uygurs who would love to destroy the Democratic Party from within. And a world of Susan Sarandons who would love to watch the world burn from the comfort of their very own mansions.
We Clinton supporters know all this and we would not let the media off the hook. For they are as complicit as anyone in what has happened to our country. Our media sold out our democracy in order to make a quick buck. They intentionally shirked their responsibilities and distorted the presentation of the news in order to manifest a closer-than-it-should-have-been election. They refused to vet Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump. They provided false equivalencies to make Hillary Clinton appear corrupt where she was, in fact, trustworthy. And they insisted on pursuing a non-existent email scandal while simultaneously ignoring the dozens of real scandals that they knowingly had access to via Donald Trump.
We were right while our media was wrong. And our media was wrong because they intentionally deceived the American public for personal gain. That is more than just bad business; that is an affront to everything a free press can and should stand for. While 65 million of us stood up to tyranny, our mainstream media openly cowered and gave rise to a candidate who embodies 21st-century fascism. The warning signs were there and our media intentionally chose to discard them to protect their own personal interests. They were complicit in the election of Donald Trump and they will continue to deny their role in his ascension because they know it is true.
And we Hillary Clinton supporters, all 65,844,610 of us, will never let them forget it.
We were right.