Home / General / Not That This Resulted In A Cross Between George Wallace, Calvin Coolidge and Jean-Claude Duvalier Becoming President Or Anything

Not That This Resulted In A Cross Between George Wallace, Calvin Coolidge and Jean-Claude Duvalier Becoming President Or Anything



A couple people flagged this in comments, but here’s another important finding from the Shorenstein Center’s study of the media’s performance covering the 2016 election (Tl; dr: it was the Hindenburg crashing into the Titanic while an atomic bomb was detonated in each):




The Shorenstein Center has published its analysis of 2016 election coverage, and the main takeaway is that it was very, very negative—but not uniformly negative. For most of the campaign, Donald Trump’s coverage was more negative than Hillary Clinton’s, but that suddenly turned around after James Comey’s letter about Clinton’s email was released. In the final two weeks of the campaign, more than a third of Clinton’s coverage was devoted to scandals. At the same time, coverage of Trump turned suddenly less negative.

The result is that during the crucial closing stretch of the campaign, Clinton’s coverage was more negative than Trump’s. It’s hard to look at this and not conclude that Comey’s letter was the key turning point that made Donald Trump president.

Well, duh. It’s worth noting as well that even before Comey’s coup de grace once you account for Clinton’s lead in the horserace the media was pretty much treating Trump’s unprecedented, norm-shattering parade of instances of what would disqualifying conduct for any other candidate as the equivalent of two trivial Clinton pseudo-scandals. (Note as well that the two big Clinton “scandals” for the media during the campaign were EMAILS! and DONORS ASK CLINTON FOUNDATION FOR FAVORS AND DON’T GET THEM BUT TROUBLING QUESTIONS!, not the big money speeches. Apologists for the media and Comey like to focus on the speeches because they really did constitute dumb and objectionable behavior even they wouldn’t rank in the top 1,000 Donald Trump scandals. But the speeches were not a big deal to elite journalists, most of whom after all are on the “America’s underachieving elites shower each other with money to deliver platitudes” gravy train or aspire to be.) It was a case of terrible coverage getting even worse rather than fair coverage suddenly turning unfair.

Anyway, to summarize, the evidence that the Comey letter and the Kardashian-sisters-land-on-Mars quantity and Hillary Clinton-embezzled-money-from-the-local-food-bank-and-funneled-it-to-ISIS quality coverage that ensured swung the election is as strong as any such evidence could possibly be:

  • Especially in battleground states, late-breaking voters broke big for Trump. Note that during this time Hillary Clinton did not become more NEOLIBERAL, the economic situation in Wisconsin and Iowa did not get worse, and Donald Trump did not become more famous.
  • The margin that put Trump in the White House is 80,000 votes. So not all, or even most, of this late 5-point shift towards Trump has to have been directly caused by the coverage of the Comey letter for it to have been decisive.
  • Late coverage of the campaign was demonstrably dominated by negative coverage of Hillary Clinton’s EMAILS!, and this coverage strongly amplified the CROOKED HILLARY narrative Trump pushed throughout the campaign.
  • This shift in coverage also had the effect of drawing focus away from Trump’s countless examples of egregious misconduct, further relatively normalizing him as a candidate and making the election more like the fundamentals-and-partisanship election he needed to make the election close enough for the Slave Power to win one more time.
  • We’re not dealing with a single event either. Every previous time Comey opened his yap and caused a chicken-screwing orgy on the part of the media, Clinton’s support discernibly declined.
  • But what about the argument that none of this evidence means anything because 2016 showed that polls were worthless? The problem is that this is false. The national polls were basically accurate — Clinton winning by two points with polls showing Clinton +3/4 is a normal deviation. The state polls were less accurate, but 1)state polls are always by their nature less accurate in general, and 2)part of the reason they were less accurate is that many states were under-polled late and hence failed to catch the late break towards Trump.
  • Obligatory note that complex events have multiple causes and responsibility is joint. To the argument that we should basically give the media and Comey a pass because going forward we need to focus on the fact that Hillary Clinton sucks, it seems worth observing that Hillary Clinton will not be the Democratic candidate for president again and the 2016 campaign will not ever be run again, but the media and the national surveillance state aren’t going anywhere.

Yes, yes, as many armchair social scientists will observe, correlation does not prove causation and counterfactuals cannot be proven to an absolute certainty. But the evidence for the “coverage of the Comey letter threw the election” is much stronger than the evidence for the counterfactual that “the Comey letter was irrelevant,” and the theoretical argument for the former is much stronger too. Late-breaking voters decided the election, the late stages of the campaign were dominated by negative coverage of Hillary Clinton, but we’re supposed to believe that this negative coverage had no meaningful effect? Sure. And of course in roughly 99% of cases the apologists and hand-wavers are not saying “we should not make any attempt to understand election outcomes because social science rarely produces completely unassailable conclusions” but rather are saying “we should ignore Comey to focus on Hillary Clinton’s messaging and the fact that Al Gore didn’t use Bill Clinton enough.”

Nope, Comey’s grossly inappropriate letter and the media’s grossly irresponsible coverage of the letter almost certainly swung the election. This would be defensible even so if it involved critical new information about serious misconduct by Hillary Clinton. But in fact the letter contained no meaningful information about a trivial pseudo-scandal that had already been over-covered by a factor of about six trillion. Really, heckuva job.


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  • Hercules Mulligan

    The fact that negative coverage of HRC was overwhelmingly linked to Emails and The Foundation From Hell and NOT speeches at banks or whatever should also make it clear that this was a crime of the press and the FBI, not the primary season.

    • Tom Till

      I don’t know about you but meeting with a Nobel Prize winner and longtime friend raises all kinds of ethical dilemmas and troubling questions for a secretary of State. It’s infinitely worse than being in hock to foreign banks to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, believe you me.

    • Dennis Orphen

      I’ve been trying to imagine a suitable sexual fantasy involving Hilary Clinton for 25 years, to no avail. But I finally have one.

      I’m a wealthy donor or high-powered lobbyist. Hilary takes my money, drinks my booze and fucks my women (or men, her choice). Then she looks me right in the eyes and votes against me.

  • Boots Day

    At least here in Colorado, Trump’s advertising in the last week of the campaign focused almost entirely on the late-breaking Comey revelations. He ran ads asking why Hillary Clinton was sending suspicious emails to known pervert Anthony Weiner. I assume the same was true in other battleground states.

    That’s a piece of evidence that the Trump campaign knew this stuff was explosive, the best material they had to use against Clinton.

    • The Lorax

      I just wish there were some way to funnel the coming doom away from the poor and immigrants and toward the media. I’m nearly as upset at the fact that the media won’t be affected by its malpractice in putting Trump in office than I am by the fact that their malpractice put Trump in office.

      • Jameson Quinn

        Don’t worry. There’s plenty of doom to go around.

  • I was at the local VA medical center the other day and I overheard this old vet talking to a nurse or social worker or some such. He was telling her he voted for Trump because when he was in the army, they took an oath to protect classified information and her betrayal of the country with the e-mails made her unqualified.

    Yeah, it’s an anecdote. But that was the only reason this guy needed.

    • howard

      you just want to lean over and say “you do realize that donald trump is holding conversations with world leaders on unsecured telephones, don’t you?”

      • CrunchyFrog

        And he would have another reason. Then another after that.

        This, by the way, is why all this analysis about “why people voted the way they did” based on polls should be flushed down the toilet and ignored. He’ll never tell you the real reason is that he can’t stand women in charge and besides the Democrats are the party of w******s and n*****s and besides we need tough guys in charge. He likely tells himself that’s not the reason for his vote. But that’s the reason.

        So then the Democrats wring their hands and study the studies and decide that, THIS TIME, if ONLY WE DO THIS then they’ll vote for us.

        This is how we got the DLC, “welfare reform”, austerity, the Simpson-Bowles commission, no investigations of the Bush administration, pre-negotiated stimulus package overly weighted with tax cuts, the carbon tax proposals, laws preventing existing lanes from being converted to HOV, etc etc etc etc etc.

        Most of them are NOT FUCKING GOING TO VOTE DEMOCRATIC. Stop trying to win their vote by taking up the positions they say is the reason they vote for racists. It won’t work.

        • BartletForGallifrey


          Nvm worked it out, thanks Wikipedia.

        • tonycpsu

          Newsletter: subscribed.

        • This was in Providence, RI. Chances are this is the first time he’s voted for a Republican in is life.

        • Morbo

          I recall a woman in one of the hundreds of Trump voter feels pieces out there who voted for Obama twice but decided to vote for Trump because of the time Obama said if he had a son he would look like Trayvon Martin. The price to win her back is too damn high.

          • tsam

            decided to vote for Trump because of the time Obama said if he had a son he would look like Trayvon Martin.

            I don’t know what that means, and HOLY SHIT PLEASE DON’T EXPAND ON IT. I think I already know and it makes me sad.

          • But Obama said that in March 2012. So supposedly she voted for Obama that year even though he had said this thing, but now that it’s 2016 she’s outraged by Chappaquiddick?

            Studies have shown that self-reporting for voting history is very unreliable. People are prone to claim they voted when they didn’t, to claim they voted for the winner when they didn’t, and to claim they didn’t vote for a currently unpopular politician when they did. So I think most of these “I voted for Obama twice and now Trump” interviews aren’t worth the bytes they’re stored in.

            • BartletForGallifrey

              Maybe it took a while for the quote to trickle down to whatever loon blog she gets her news from.

              • Hogan

                That sounds exactly right to me.

  • Jameson Quinn

    I didn’t focus on it, but my analysis of the two-way race in part 1 of my series on the electology.org poll is entirely consistent with blaming Comey. And in this case, “consistent with” is basically mealy-mouthed-scientist-speak for “strongly supports”.

    • Scott Lemieux

      You should do a post 2B on that!

      • liberalrob

        I’d like to see that as well.

        Also a state-by-state breakdown of the poll vs. actual result data used to generate those graphs from part 1, at least for the “battleground” states.

        • Jameson Quinn

          I’ll make a spreadsheet, and link to it from part 3.

      • Jameson Quinn

        Basically, it’s the fact that my model, built on data from 4-7 days before the election, accurately predicted the Clinton vote (except in MS and in the noncoastal nonsouth western states) but across the board underestimated the Trump support. That totally fits with last-minute deciders swinging overwhelmingly to Trump.

        To me, hypersaturated with election news for over a year, I really had a hard time imagining the transparently-bullshit Comey “revelation” being that big a deal. I mean, basically everybody had already made up their minds by then, right?

        Overestimating the intelligence of the dregs of America, the classic mistake.

  • Tsuyoshi

    Well, going forward (with the hope that our democracy, such as it is, survives President Trump), did Obama objectively do anything better than Clinton? Is there a lesson for future Democratic presidential candidates?

    I seem to remember that the media was less harsh toward Obama than it was toward either Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton. I mean, Republicans were pretty much just as crazy toward Obama, with the birtherism and Alinsky and ACORN etc., but I don’t feel like the media in general took that stuff as seriously as Whitewater and Benghazi and emailgate etc. I do not have any data to back up this feeling, so maybe I’m wrong about this.

    Of course, the media has a pretty pro-Republican bias in general. I get the impression that newspaper editors and television news producers are basically all liberal Republicans. They realize the contemporary Republican Party has lost all touch with reality, but can’t bring themselves to take the Democratic Party seriously. I guess they all came of age in the 80s when only nerds and minorities could be Democrats.

    But I feel like, even given the pro-Republican bias in the media, Clinton was a poor candidate because of her relationship with the media. And I don’t think Sanders would have been any better. It would be impossible to tar him with corruption like they did with Clinton, but I’m sure they’d think of something.

    There is definitely a lesson for future Democratic presidents here: don’t appoint Republicans to ANYTHING. Not Defense Secretary, not FBI Director, not Ambassador to Siberia, nothing! If you appoint a Republican they will stab you in the back, because all their Republican friends shun them unless they do. If there was anything wrong with Obama’s presidency, it was his reluctance to treat Republicans as the enemy they are. No, there are no reasonable Republicans. They don’t exist anymore! If they were reasonable, they would have left the Republican Party in 2009 at the very latest.

    • Hercules Mulligan

      To extend this back to the Ellison thread, never compromise on policy OR candidate because you fear the Republican/media smear campaign. Just go with who you believe in.

    • Manny Kant

      Ray LaHood and Chuck Hagel turned out okay, I guess. Gates and Huntsman were kind of dicks. Comey, obviously, is sui generis

    • gogiggs

      He had a penis and hadn’t been subjected to 20+ years of smears.

      • Sebastian_h

        He was black and therefore suffered no serious problems in modern America…? Or do you mean something else?

        • BartletForGallifrey

          Among the sort of people who make up our fair media, it’s still far more acceptable to treat a woman differently than a man than it is to treat a black person differently than a white person.

        • mongolia

          thing about obama is that he’s quite handsome and charismatic – likely helped a ton v. mccain, and while romney looks like a president he’s still a devil-worshiping minority through his religious affiliation. compare to this year, where neither hrc or djt look classically “presidential”. could have been the reason low-information voters (ie “undecideds”) decided to break for djt at the end – figure a garish looking man was more presidential than a woman

        • liberalrob

          He was male and wasn’t a Clinton, is what gogiggs was saying. The question was “did Obama objectively do anything better [as a presidential candidate] than Clinton?” Being male and not being a Clinton were two things in his favor, at least in terms of a sexist and Clinton-hating media environment (and electorate, I guess).

    • Jameson Quinn

      I think that the media was nicer to Obama because:

      They. Are. A pack. Of bullies.

      If there is one thing Trump understands (which is probably about the right number), it’s bullying. He was basically immune. He’s a fucking bullymancer.

      Clinton is like some big elk or wild horse or something. She’s powerful and persistent, and when she can actually face down her opponents she can crush them. But she walks with just that hint of a limp that makes them think she’s weak, and so they’ll always keep circling and nipping at her haunches. (The limp in this metaphor is the fact that she thinks stupid scandals are stupid.) In this case, with Comey putting an obstacle at the end of the run, that was just enough to take her down.

      Obama is just cooler. I mean, of course we all know that deep down he must think that the stuff about his pastor or his birth certificate is stupid. But he’ll never let that show, except when he’s telling a cutting joke about it. He doesn’t show any weakness, so the hyenas back off and let him pass.

      So, how would this have worked for Bernie? He was good at turning everything back into the struggle between the people and the bankers. As long as he kept doing that, and didn’t complain about the media being biased, I think he would have stayed strong. But while “always angry on the people’s behalf” is not necessarily the same as “easy to tease”, it is dangerously close. So I’m not sure how that would have gone.

      • XTPD

        I like to think of them in terms of African animals:

        Hillary Clinton (apologies if this is offensive) is a spotted hyena: An extraordinarily powerful, intelligent, and highly efficient carnivore…but who, thanks to years of terrible press, is widely perceived as a vulturous, shit-covered ball-busting weasel/bear hybrid abomination.

        Trump, meanwhile, is a male lion: A dumb, predominantly-scavenging animal with stupid hair and quite frankly terrible stamina…but fucking tourists mistake the other animals’ awareness of these facts as proof of his pimping majesty.

        Bernie, in this scenario, would probably be a zebra or something.

        • Where does Lincoln Chafee fit in here?

          • tonycpsu

            An actually moderate Republican? It’d have to be an extinct species.

          • Hogan

            Lesser short-tailed gerbil?

          • XTPD

            My assumption is that Chafee would be a coelacanth, Ramfis II would be an African giant snail, Kasich would be an olive baboon, and Rubio would be (a much dumber Season 1 version of) Cheetor. The press would be either side-striped jackals or a particularly dense species of bovid.

          • The hell with Chafee–where was that dentist when it might have done some good?

        • Jameson Quinn

          I think Bernie is an elephant shrew: incredibly fast, as long as he’s running the path he knows well.

          (Sorry, as a Bernie supporter I shouldn’t say things like that. But I love elephant shrews!)

          • XTPD

            Having nothing to do with anything: The name “elephant shrew” was given to the macroscelid order on the assumption that it was a shrew that happened to have an elephantine nose; the name turned out to be ironically fortuitous, as macroscelids were found out to be afrotheres (the superorder that includes elephants) instead of eulipotyphlids/soricids (insectivores & shrews, respectively).

      • Donna Gratehouse

        Obama is definitely cooler by orders of magnitude than the average politician but there were many times during his Presidency that the media were dicks to him. I distinctly remember reporters disrespectfully shouting questions at him at press conferences. And then there was how the MSM fawned over the teabaggers, totally buying their description of themselves as superfans of the original Constitution and not racist at all oh no never. That was a big FU to Obama IMO.

      • The Lorax

        They are bullies. I’m convinced they were beaten up in high school, and they’re still reacting to that. This is why trash like Politico exists.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Ambassador to Siberia

      I dunno about “ambassador,” but the next Democratic president should certainly have Comey thrown out of a bus there.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        in honor of John Glenn I think Comey should get a one-way ticket to the moon

      • There are real hell-holes out there: Afghanistan, South Sudan, Yemen, Eritrea. The ambassador to Libya got himself killed. Two problems with giving the job to Republicans: one, they would not see the title as worth the real danger and lousy quality of life. Two, it’s because these places are violent and unstable that they present real long-tsrm threats to American interests and reputation, so you actually need competent people holding down the embassy. It’s the embassy in Paris that you can afford to use as a reward to a donor.

    • tsam

      Well, going forward (with the hope that our democracy, such as it is, survives President Trump), did Obama objectively do anything better than Clinton?

      I’m not sure this democracy/republic is intact at this moment. Again, something stinks about parts of this election, an FBI director used his authority to sabotage a candidate, and disenfranchisement was already skyrocketing–which is nothing compared to what’s coming now that the DoJ and FBI are being run by the fascists.

      It might already be over and we’re just feeling a phantom pulse–or accidentally reading our own pulse.

    • cleter

      Obama was objectively much better at not being a Clinton.

      • liberalrob


  • howard

    i’ve long characterized the national press corps, as a group, as smug and shallow, and certainly there is no sign since election day that anyone has rethought anything in that cohort.

    similarly, you do have to like how sheryl sandberg assures us that at facebook, they don’t think that facebook as the platform of choice for bullshit stories that seize the imagination of the rwnj community had anything to do with the election outcome….

  • kped

    The times ran the Comey letter on the front page like 3 times over the final 8 days. The cable news channels had 24 hour round tables to discuss that topic and only that topic the last week. Anyone who says it didn’t matter is a fucking fool.

    • Donna Gratehouse

      And local news, where a lot of Joe and Jane Averages get all their election info, would devote the one minute or so they usually gave to the national election to “FBI REOPENING CLINTON EMAIL INVESTIGATION! ANTHONY WEINER INVOLVED!!”

      • efgoldman

        And local news, where a lot of Joe and Jane Averages get all their election info, would devote the one minute or so….

        And like it or not, when Mr and Ms Lowinfo-Average hear/see “FBI Director” they immediately think “serious and credible.”
        JEdgar lives!

    • Scott Lemieux

      The first time I began to think Trump could actually win was not the Friday the letter came out but the Saturday I went to the gym and it was just wall-to-wall EMAILS! chicken-fucking on CNN.

      • BartletForGallifrey

        This is why I don’t go to the gym.

        Also, I hate working out.

        • tsam

          This is why I don’t go to the gym.

          So it’s YOUR fault Hillary lost.

      • liberalrob

        I never once thought he would win. But I always thought he could win (just like I thought any of the GOP clowns on offer could win), and unfortunately I was proven right on that.

      • tsam

        I never thought he could win until he was actually winning on election night. I feel kinda dumb now.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          I always knew Trump *could* win- and somewhere after the last debate- when Clinton couldn’t hold the gains made there, the House went out of reach and the Senate became a much iffier proposition but before Comey- the sinking feeling just got stronger and stronger. At the time I just chalked it up to what I saw locally but of course that was more widespread than expected

      • kped

        CNN’s coverage was just an embarrassment to the country. Round the clock debate panels talking about…nothing. Literally nothing. But let’s have McEnany, Jeffrey Lord and Scottie Nell Hughes (calling them the 3 stooges is too cruel to the actual 3 stooges) wonder what awful thing is in these emails for 12 hours a day. Even their “liberal” side had to preface any and all defenses of Hillary with “she made mistakes, she was so stupid, but…”. Like, they were coached that it was “biased” to just call this for the obvious bullshit it was, they had to first acknowledge that SHE.DID.WRONG.

        What a travesty this thing was, and I hope no one still labors under the belief that the media will learn, or even cares that they are an abomination. They think they did fine, because both sides hate them.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Yeah, I know a reporter who’s boycotting CNN while Trump is in the White House. Just awful.

          At least the NYT does some actual good work. CNN is just relentless crap.

          • XTPD

            I knew CNN had reached derp oblivion when I saw Don Lemon wordshart about MH370 falling into a black hole. I still stand by my opinion that it is literally the stupidest fucking thing any major news anchor has ever said, ever.

            Jeff Zucker and the Trump Adderall-handlers deserve to be fired into the sun.

          • EliHawk

            One of the most consequential terrible business deals in history has to be Ted Turner selling out to Time Warner, no?

  • The only question is, who will troll this idea today?

  • Sebastian_h

    “But the speeches were not a big deal to elite journalists, most of whom after all are on the “America’s underachieving elites shower each other with money to deliver platitudes” gravy train or aspire to be.”

    This is actually an interesting point. Is this why we weren’t supposed to be talking about the speeches? It makes sense that journalists wouldn’t want to touch this one with a ten foot pole if they feared it might interfere with future gravy train prospects.

    • Donna Gratehouse

      In the coverage I did see them give the speeches it appeared to be driven by professional jealousy on the part of Anderson Cooper et al, who were peeved to see Hillary getting a quarter of a mil per speech while they had to make do with a measly 100 thou for their paid speeches.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Is this why we weren’t supposed to be talking about the speeches?

      Who is saying this, exactly?

    • Alex.S

      There were a lot of other issues or gaffes Hillary had that were ignored.

      For example, there was a donor who was named to a board in the State Department (think of it like an ambassador post). He was dropped shortly after being named, but it felt like a story that could have legs… and then it just didn’t come up again.

      EMAILZ stood out because other things could be thrown into it (Wikileaks reveals emails!) and that the media pretended that the FBI was a neutral third party.

      • Sebastian_h

        I think you mean Rajiv Fernando. That seems to me like a case where the stonewalling worked.

        • randy khan

          Also, when you looked into it, he ended up seeming more qualified than he did at first. Maybe not a perfect choice, but not a great example of “corruption.”

          • Scott Lemieux

            He was at least adequately qualified for a trivial position. If that’s the worst example of a CF “scandal,” there’s absolutely nothing.

  • Dilan Esper

    If anyone wants a tonic after all these discussions of the media, look at this from Kait Parker of The Weather Channel:


  • This isn’t a fully fleshed out idea yet, but I’ve been wondering for some time how much the audience composition for major news outlets skews their coverage of certain topics. For example, well over 2/3s of the audience for the sabbath gasbag shows is eligible for AARP. Since 2000, that same grey haired demographic has also voted overwhelmingly Republican. The volume and tone of the coverage of EMAILZ was obviously irresponsible and stupid for a lot of reasons, but maybe it isn’t just Villager navel gazing and Broderesque BothSides blinders that does it. Maybe they’re just giving their audience what they want.

    TL;DR: If most mainstream media consumers are old, and most old people vote Republican, then Republican skewed coverage is what we’re gonna get.

    • xq

      Republicans have largely moved to RW news sources, so most consumers of mainstream news are Democrats or Democrat-leaners.

      • AMK

        Yeah this is why I feel like the “fake news” thing is overstated; the people who swap Brietbart-produced memes on Facebook with each-other all day are not undecided late-breaking voters or average Low Info Joes.

      • Rob in CT

        So watching unrelenting crap about that awful Hillary women might’ve… depressed D-leaners a bit? Seems to fit.

  • XTPD

    I’d replace “Calvin Coolidge” with “Ronald Reagan” and “Jean-Claude Duvalier” with “Rafael Trujillo Molina,” but the rest of the post is spot-on.

    • BartletForGallifrey

      A quick skim of Wikipedia offers the following very un-PPEOTUS info on Trujillo:

      Trujillo was known for his open-door policy, accepting Jewish refugees from Europe, Japanese migration during the 1930s, and exiles from Spain following its civil war. He developed a uniquely Dominican policy of racial discrimination, Antihaitianismo (“anti-Haitianism”), targeting the mostly-black inhabitants of his neighboring country and those within the Platano Curtain, including many Afro-Dominican citizens. At the 1938 Évian Conference the Dominican Republic was the only country willing to accept many Jews and offered to accept up to 100,000 refugees on generous terms. In 1940 an agreement was signed and Trujillo donated 26,000 acres (110 km2) of his properties for settlements. The first settlers arrived in May 1940; eventually some 800 settlers came to Sosua and most moved later on to the United States.

      The Trujillo regime greatly expanded the Vedado del Yaque, a nature reserve around the Yaque del Sur River. In 1934 he created the nation’s first national park, banned the slash-and-burn method of clearing land for agriculture, set up a forest warden agency to protect the park system, and banned the logging of pine trees without his permission. In the 1950s the Trujillo regime commissioned a study on the hydroelectric potential of damming the Dominican Republic’s waterways. The commission concluded that only forested waterways could support hydroelectric dams, so Trujillo banned logging in potential river watersheds.

      Baby Doc, otoh:

      After assuming power, he introduced cosmetic changes to his father’s regime and delegated much authority to his advisors.

      He maintained a notoriously lavish lifestyle (including a state-sponsored US$ 2 million wedding in 1980), and made millions from involvement in the drug trade and from selling body parts from dead Haitians

      They’re all missing that particular orange flavor of batshit fucking crazy, though. Maybe throw in some Gaddafi?

      • XTPD

        Trujillo Molina despised Afro-Dominicans, however (he actually came up with the indio classification to get around the fact that the island was overwhelmingly African, and instigated the Parsley massacre), and even by caudillo standards he’s considered especially evil, having killed up to 50000 Dominicans (the Red Skull of the Americas, if you will).

        Also, El Jefe had a massive egopolis complex & was fond of showering useless titles onto his relatives.

      • Bootsie

        Idi Amin-style crazy.

        • BartletForGallifrey


          I literally googled “African dictators” to try to figure it out.

          • I literally googled “African dictators” to try to figure it out.

            Well, that’s where you went wrong, right there. Should have googled “last Kings of Scotland”.

          • XTPD

            Don’t forget Francisco Macías Nguema (the African Pol Pot, and at least as crazy as him or Amin) or Jean-Bédel Bokassa (who arrested/had killed schoolkids who wouldn’t buy his uniforms).

  • Dilan Esper

    Late-breaking voters decided the election


    But maybe, just maybe, the polls didn’t reflect the way people were actually going to vote.

    One of the things that was a formative event in my political thinking was Tom Bradley’s run for Governor of California. He led the polls and then lost the election. Turned out some voters didn’t want to tell the posters they were voting against the black guy.

    Trump, in addition to being a big celebrity, was also a very controversial figure. Telling the pollsters you weren’t going to vote for them was a way of disapproving of his antics.

    Polls are not elections. Scott hates this argument not only because it calls into question the Comey thing, but really makes it very difficult to do a whole lot of political science.

    But you can’t say this sort of thing definitively until you establish that the people answering those pollsters were ACTUALLY not going to vote for Trump, as opposed to just saying that to the pollster.

    • JKTH

      The late-breaking voters thing is based on post-election polls not the difference between pre-election polls and actual results. Unless you mean people were lying about changing their mind?

    • Jameson Quinn

      Yes, it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck. But have you considered that there are robots that do all of that?

      That’s one weird argument that Lemieuxs hate.

    • Scott Lemieux

      There is no evidence of a “shy voter effect” in Trump’s case. And, as noted above, your theory makes no sense on its face- why would the effect go away every time the press started flogging EMAILS?

      • liberalrob

        Yeah, I’d be more inclined to posit a “wishy-washy voter effect” than a “shy voter effect.” Trump supporters are not the kind of people to be shy about it. Meanwhile hem-hawers will show up as undecided or simply not participate in polls.

        Also, from that story you linked:

        It’s more likely that polls underestimated Trump for more conventional reasons, such as underestimating the size of the Republican base or failing to capture how that base coalesced at the end of the campaign.

        I find that very plausible. In any event, the polls were not wrong about the popular vote but were apparently very wrong about the electoral vote…which is the one that matters.

        • Dilan Esper

          Trump supporters are not the kind of people to be shy about it.

          Which ones?

          It’s a serious question. Matt Yglesias has a post today about this.

          • liberalrob

            Trump supporters are not the kind of people to be shy about it.

            Which ones?

            All of them? Most? I didn’t take a census of them, if that’s what you’re asking. I have yet to hear of a Trump supporter (not voter) who was not full-throated in their support.

      • Dilan Esper

        Because every time the press started flogging emails they stopped flogging the Trump scandals that the public was expressing disapproval of in the polls?

        Or perhaps just because the email thing flared up every time the Trump scandals were fading into the background?

        Look, one of the big things that you should take, but won’t, from this election is to not rely on tracking polls so much. They track noise, they are subject to all sorts of distortions (of which the Bradley effect is just one), and we are seeing a very salutary trend of the general public refusing to talk to pollsters, which is going to make them even less accurate in the future.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Or perhaps just because the email thing flared up every time the Trump scandals were fading into the background?

          What are you talking about? They flared up when the fucking FBI director implied that Clinton did something seriously wrong. You’re just flat ignoring the evidence at this point.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          why would less-accurate polling be a *good* thing?

    • But maybe, just maybe, the polls didn’t reflect the way people were actually going to vote.

      Wang’s final meta margin was Clinton +2.2. Current margin: Clinton +1.9. Looks like polling was extremely accurate, so you are assuming facts not in evidence.

      • Dilan Esper

        Polls taken just before election day may, for all sorts of reasons, be more accurate. Especially since there weren’t any last minute Trump scandals that voters wanted to preen against.

        • What makes this art is that you say that a predictive measurement of the behavior of 130 million people that comes within three-tenths of one percent “may be more accurate.”

        • Snuff curry

          last minute Trump scandals that voters wanted to preen against.

          Christ almighty

      • JKTH

        The meta-margin is supposed to be the amount that polls would have to shift to produce an EC tie…so in reality it ended up something like Trump +1. Wang’s popular vote margin was 3-4% IIRC.

  • nemdam

    Obligatory note that complex events have multiple causes and responsibility is joint. To the argument that we should basically give the media and Comey a pass because going forward we need to focus on the fact that Hillary Clinton sucks, it seems worth observing that Hillary Clinton will not be the Democratic candidate for president again and the 2016 campaign will not ever be run again, but the media and the national surveillance state aren’t going anywhere.

    I’m glad you brought this up as this is the reason that finally convinced me that the media, FBI, and Russia decided this election. If the vast majority of responses to these issues is that Hillary sucks so it doesn’t matter, then that is a concession that you aren’t even trying to defend the coverage on its merits. Second, the idea that Hillary sucks is taken as axiomatic. But the question then becomes if the media covered her psuedo-scandals remotely fairly, would she still so obviously suck as a candidate? Reasonable minds can disagree, but it is not an ironclad assumption you can make. And against Trump? Give me a break. But third and most importantly, since when does covering a bad candidate justify not covering them fairly? This is like a basketball ref saying he isn’t going to call fouls for a player because he’s a bad shooter. It makes no sense. If a basketball ref ever gave this excuse for a bad call, everyone would rightly be outraged. But for some reason in a presidential election, most just shrug.

  • Alex.S


    I don’t have the original source on, but Matt McDermott noted a 13 point difference between Rhode Island’s absentee vote vs election day. It went from 60-33 to 54-39.

    In 2016, it was a 5 point swing (towards Obama).

  • FirstDano

    …and not one peep from this same corporate media about King Donald’s top donor getting a cabinet appointment.

    F*cking corporate media.



  • One of the things I haven’t seen emphasized enough in the discussions of L’Affaire Comey is the fact that he knew damned well there was likely nothing new when he violated policy and penned his bullshit letter.

    I have worked for an ISP. I have written email clients (not the kind that users use, but the kind that automate things.) And I have run my own mail server (I gave up a few years ago because Google Apps is so damn easy and their SPAM filters are pretty darn good.)

    Tech note: when person A sends an email to person B there are four places an investigator might find the email. 1.) An email client cache (a local copy) on a client device used by person A (in the Sent Mail folder.) 2.) In the mail server that person A’s email client is configured to use (most likely in an IMAP Sent Mail folder here.) In the mail server from which person B’s email client retreives email. And 4.) An email client cache (another local copy) on a client device used by person B.

    Point being there are many copies of the same email.

    Now both HA and HRC turned over emails of interest in this case to the FBI. This was likely done by collecting everything available from servers used by HRC, HA and others and filtering out stuff deemed personal. There is no positive reason to think that a client-side cache (local copy) of emails (which is what was on the laptop) in an investigation that had already been wound down would contain anything relevant not already seen from some other source. You do want to look, but there is absolutely no positive reason to think you’ll find anything new. You’re looking at a local copy. Which is exactly what happened — the emails were mostly duplicates or personal. No surprises.

    Given that this is what any competent person investigating an email case this far in would expect, why violate policy and send the letter so close to an election in the 1st place? And given that the letter does not explicitly state that a local copy of emails on a laptop likely contains no surprises, no competent person could have had any other intent than to fuel unjustified public speculation and thereby influence an election.

    I don’t think Comey is incompetent. I do think he understood this. In my technical opinion, Comey wrote that letter intending to influence the election. I think he unethically abused his position of public trust.

    • randy khan

      I don’t know that Comey is competent – he said things during the press conference in July that made me think he had no idea what he was talking about – but it’s a dead certainty that there were multiple people on the team doing the actual work who were competent and should have told him. So, either he knew or it was concealed from him. If it was concealed from him, then either he didn’t ask anybody the right question or he was lied to. Take your pick. None of the choices are particularly pretty.

      In a just world, there would be a big investigation of this and we might ultimately find out. I’m not counting on it, since in a just world Comey wouldn’t have sent the letter until the results of the review of the emails were in (and, given what was – or, rather, wasn’t – found, there wouldn’t have been a letter).

      • XTPD

        Also, Kurt Eichenwald notes that the FBI Twitter account went dormant immediately after the election.

  • liberalrob

    Anyway, to summarize, the evidence that the Comey letter and the Kardashian-sisters-land-on-Mars quantity and Hillary Clinton-embezzled-money-from-the-local-food-bank-and-funneled-it-to-ISIS quality coverage that [ensued] swung the election is as strong as any such evidence could possibly be.

    The craptastic media coverage being the essential element. The Comey letter on its own would not have worked if the media had been doing its fucking job.

    But it’s been useless practically since the ink on the Bill of Rights dried. The author of the Declaration of Independence, ladies and gentlemen:

    “I deplore… the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed and the malignity, the vulgarity, and mendacious spirit of those who write for them… These ordures are rapidly depraving the public taste and lessening its relish for sound food. As vehicles of information and a curb on our functionaries, they have rendered themselves useless by forfeiting all title to belief… This has, in a great degree, been produced by the violence and malignity of party spirit.” –Thomas Jefferson to Walter Jones, 1814

    “Our printers raven on the agonies of their victims, as wolves do on the blood of the lamb.” –Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 1811

    “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day.” –Thomas Jefferson to John Norvell, 1807

    “A coalition of sentiments is not for the interest of printers. They, like the clergy, live by the zeal they can kindle and the schisms they can create. It is contest of opinion in politics as well as religion which makes us take great interest in them and bestow our money liberally on those who furnish aliment to our appetite… So the printers can never leave us in a state of perfect rest and union of opinion. They would be no longer useful and would have to go to the plough.” –Thomas Jefferson to Elbridge Gerry, 1801

    “The press is impotent when it abandons itself to falsehood.” –Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Seymour, 1807

    Rave on, brother.

    • Scott Lemieux

      The craptastic media coverage being the essential element. The Comey letter on its own would not have worked if the media had been doing its fucking job.

      Absolutely true.

  • MDrew


    No one who didn’t once write editorials for the Washington Post is saying that Comey should be given a pass. Don’t insult us to try to claim that’s what this is about. Say all you want about the propriety of what Comey did.

    The focus would not be so intently on whether his actions in fact turned the election (rather than the particulars of why they were totally indefensible actions for a top federal LEF inasmuch as they had the potential to flip a national election) if the real concern were not the import of the possible fact that this illegitimate, exogenous event turned the election for the course of the ongoing debates among Democrats and the broader left about the meanings and conclusions that should be drawn from the election result.

    That’s the matter at hand, and the motivation for the focus on this. Otherwise the focus would be much more on the feebleness of the civic/governance/moral justifications for Comey’s actions that have been (really quite sparsely) advanced.

    • MDrew

      …Holding the media to account (as much as that resembles trying to nail Jell-O to the wall), that’s a slightly different matter. Obviously the above motivation is at play there, but that is also in itself of course an important ongoing imperative for any political party or movement.

    • MDrew

      …To be clear, this is not a claim you don’t care about the impropriety of the actions in and of itself and haven’t addressed the (obvious) case for it. It’s just that it’s clear what the strongest driving concern behind the now-numerous posts on the Comey effect is.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      you took all those words to say what exactly? That Scott is actually getting a jump on the next primaries and making the case to stick with- let me guess neeoooliiberalisssm?

      • MDrew

        Identity politics, actually. By his own overt advocacy.

        There is only one politics! It is identity politics! It cannot fail! It can only be failed!

  • Taters

    Has the Hatch Act been sucked into the memory-hole? It seems that if there was ever an argument to be made for its violation, this would be it.
    I’m hearing crickets over Richard Painter’s complaint against the F.B.I. with the Office of Special Counsel and frankly expect that it will never be spoken of again.
    I guess it’s Comeys all the way down.

  • Taters

    -accidental double post deleted-

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