Matt Yglesias has made a decision, It’s Time for the Media to Admit That Hillary Clinton Is Popular. He laid the case out clearly. Hillary Clinton is popular — and not just with Democrats. She’s generally popular — more so than any Republican presidential candidate. But she is most definitely not popular among journalists. And this leaks into their coverage where they seem to find it impossible to report on polls without lacing them with criticisms that they think ought to make people dislike her. For example, when The New York Times reported on her popularity, it noted, “Hillary Rodham Clinton appears to have initially weathered a barrage of news about” about the scandals so loved by reporters.
The whole thing highlights the absurdity of the notion of an objective press. Reporters clearly have their little axes to grind. And it usually isn’t ideological. It is usually just a matter of laziness. It is easier to take an existing narrative and run with it than to honestly grapple with the truth, which is never as simple and compelling. To me, the best example of this is Al Gore’s 2000 campaign. Most of the reporters who pushed the totally deceptive “exaggeration” narrative about Gore were people who would eventually vote for him. But what’s more interesting: Al Gore inventing the internet or his economic policy ideas? Am I right?!
Yglesias pointed out something that is really interesting. Hillary Clinton doesn’t like the press, but she is joined in that with the public “which does not think journalists are credible or contribute to society’s well-being.” I think the reason for this is because of the tendency of the press to sensationalize coverage and create these false narratives. Of course, ultimately it is the public’s fault. We love us some scandals. The press were never inclined to give us anything other than that. But if the people cared about serious coverage, it would have become clear by now on the internet. Instead, it has become clear that we don’t want that.
But there is something strange. In general, when the press beat the drum for a scandal and the people don’t care, the press drops the issue. But in Clinton’s case, the drumming continues. Things have settled down a bit, but I’m sure the email scandal will come back in a big way. And Benghazi! will come back. I won’t be at all surprised if Gennifer Flowers comes back! The the main thing is that the narrative of Hillary Clinton as a scandal magnet will continue. And that’s especially bad because we know what the press will say in its defense, “The idea was out there.”
What’s really bad about all this is not its effect on Hillary Clinton. She’ll do just fine with a press corps that can’t manage to do its job. As long as the primary is clogged with “narrative reporting,” there will be little room for reporting on issues or anything else. Why ask Clinton about her position of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) when you can ask her about that email server?! And that hurts the whole Democratic primary. If the reporters really wanted to sabotage Clinton’s campaign, they would be better off talking about issues, because there is a big Democratic apatite for the sort of things that Sanders and others on the left are saying, many of which Clinton is loath to say.