You might think that a candidate running an explicitly white nationalist campaign might be seen as a major scandal. But, to the media, it was certainly no EMAILS!:
I want to be crystal clear: When Trump said he would ban Muslims from this country, that didn’t get long-lasting attention. When Trump proposed an irresponsible tax plan or espoused dangerous climate change attitudes, that didn’t either. It just became an accepted part of Trumpism.
But when powerful men reacted to those things and changed their minds — or not — that became the story. So when they okayed his candidacy, it was normalizing, as if what he had done was forgivable and what he planned to do was acceptable.
Meanwhile, the story around Hillary Clinton was about one thing: emails.
Let me first show you this astounding chart, because it illustrates why some people believe the media was irrationally obsessed with Clinton’s emails:
[omitted so you click through, but it’s astounding]
It was covered far more than Trump’s Muslim proposal. In fact, on televisions it was covered far more than all policy issues combined.
From the beginning of 2016 to late October, the three major networks — CBS, ABC, and NBC — spent 100 combined minutes of their newscasts covering Clinton’s emails. They spent 32 minutes on every other policy issue, and no time on climate change, health care, poverty, and trade. This focus on her emails made it relevant throughout the election, peaking right before Election Day. Often, it was a small development that provided little new information, like FBI Director James Comey sending a letter to Congress saying the bureau had more emails to look at — and then saying it didn’t change the original decision that she hadn’t done anything criminal.
Let’s rehash what this “scandal” actually was: It started from allegations that she mishandled the Benghazi attacks in 2012. An investigation found no wrongdoing. It did find a private email server — which was also investigated — and at the end of it, her mistake was sending classified information on systems that weren’t approved for it. But the investigation found she wasn’t criminally responsible. As Vox’s Matt Yglesias writes, this is a bullshit scandal.
So it’s absurd for Clinton’s emails and Trump’s racist proposals to be put on the same scale of morality. But it’s even more absurd that Clinton’s emails were somehow a better indicator of how she would change people’s lives compared with Trump’s actual plans. It was absurd that at only a single point in this election was the Muslim ban Googled more than Clinton’s emails, and media is responsible for some, if not most, of this. We were more interested in what Clinton was doing on her BlackBerry than in how Trump was going to ban people from this country based on their religion.
And this doesn’t even account for the astonishingly racist comments Trump made that pretty much vanished without a trace. A major candidate nominee literally called for innocent African-Americans to be lynched while attracting almost no attention whatsoever from a media gripped by a consuming obsession with a trivial pseudo-scandal that involved no substantial misconduct by Hillary Clinton and was immaterial to how the candidates would preform in office.
I’m already hearing, in comments and elsewhere, a lot of “look forward not back,” that we should get over it because discussing it will get in the way of our shiny new theory about how Lena Dunham cost Hillary Clinton the election or whatever. To hell with that. This was gross misconduct on the part of the media. It probably changed the outcome in ways that will have untold horrible effects for the most vulnerable people in the country and for the planet. But even if Clinton had been able to overcome the electoral college and the four-front war being fought against her by the GOP, the FBI, Wikileaks (and the “leftist” media that acted as the dupes for a libertarian ratfucking operation) and the media, it is still absolutely reprehensible conduct. It reflects grossly skewed priorities and a consummate failure to even minimally inform the American public. And while Hillary Clinton won’t be a presidential nominee again, don’t assume it won’t happen next time too.