The Media's Actions Had Consequences, and They Refuse to Own Them

At the Washington Post, Dave Weigel writes "This One Clinton Quote Shows Why Her Supporters Hate the Media," in which he deconstructs the process by which something Hillary Clinton said gets twisted into something detached from all meaning and reattached to existing sinister narratives about her.
In a riff on how to create jobs, Clinton made the fairly ordinary point that "if you don't have access to high-speed affordable broadband, which large parts of America do not," large employers will overlook your town. She continued:
If you drive around in some of the places that beat the heck out of me, you cannot get cell coverage for miles. And so, even in towns — so, the president was in Harrisburg. I was in Harrisburg during the campaign, and I met with people afterward. One of the things they said to me is that there are places in central Pennsylvania where we don't have access to affordable high-speed Internet.
Clearly, Clinton was expressing concern for people who are left without reliable cell phone and internet access in an age in which we have become dependent on these things.

But, as Weigel details, members of the political press selectively quoted it to make it appear as though Clinton was an out-of-touch elite complaining that she couldn't get cell service in places that didn't vote for her.

See how that works? And then other members of the press ran with that framing, and, soon, the established narrative was that Clinton was blaming lack of cell phone coverage for losing the election.

When what she had actually been doing was expressing compassion for people in those areas and amplifying their concerns.

This is emblematic of a pattern we saw over and over throughout the election. It is one example, but it is representative of countless iterations of this dynamic.

It is infuriating—and it is a heartbreaking illustration of how media plays a major role in denying people help they need.

I want to stress this point: The problem is not that many members of the political press hate Hillary Clinton. It's that they allowed that hatred to doom people across this nation.

It's not great when members of the media who are tasked with accurately reporting on candidates observably hate one of the candidates. But the issue was not the hatred itself: It was people who hated her giving themselves permission to abandon any and all pretense of accuracy and fairness.

And then justifying it on the basis that she was "objectively unlikeable." (Unlike the entertaining Donald Trump, of course.)

One of the primary criticisms of Trump's presidency so far is that he continually prioritizes his own bigotry over what's best for the country. That is a good criticism. It deserves to be made over and over.

I have even seen some members of the political press effectively make that point.

And yet. Some of the same people who can make that point about Trump exhibit precisely the same prioritization of their own bigotry, their misogyny, over what's best for the country, when it comes to Hillary Clinton.

Perhaps it's no wonder that they had a preference for him. They are more like him than they would prefer to believe.

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