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The apotheosis of false equivalence

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Following up on Scott’s various posts on this extraordinarily important topic, a new Harvard Kennedy School study finds that Hillary Clinton received more negative press coverage over the entire course of the presidential campaign than Donald Trump:

Criticism dogged Hillary Clinton at every step of the general election. Her “bad press” outpaced her “good press” by 64 percent to 36 percent. She was criticized for everything from her speaking style to her use of emails.

As Clinton was being attacked in the press, Donald Trump was attacking the press, claiming that it was trying to “rig” the election in her favor. If that’s true, journalists had a peculiar way of going about it. Trump’s coverage during the general election was more negative than Clinton’s, running 77 percent negative to 23 percent positive. But over the full course of the election, it was Clinton, not Trump, who was more often the target of negative coverage (see Figure 1). Overall, the coverage of her candidacy was 62 percent negative to 38 percent positive, while his coverage was 56 percent negative to 44 percent positive.

Consider how utterly astonishing this finding ought to be, at least in any halfway sane world (obviously I’m positing a hypothetical here).  Donald Trump is, by an enormous margin, the least-qualified candidate to ever receive a major party nomination for president.  This is true even without reference to his extensive history of personal corruption, his lack of any apparent interest in public policy, his overt unapologetic racism, sexism, etc. etc.

It gets worse:

Even those numbers understate the level of negativity. Much of the candidates’ “good press” was in the context of the horserace—who is winning and who is losing and why. At any given moment in the campaign, one of the candidates has the momentum, which is a source of positive coverage. Figure 2 shows the tone of the nominees’ coverage on non-horserace topics, those that bear some relationship to the question of their fitness for office—their policy positions, personal qualities, leadership abilities, ethical standards, and the like. In Trump’s case, this coverage was 87 percent negative to 13 percent positive. Clinton’s ratio was identical—87 percent negative to 13 percent positive. “Just like Tweedledum and Tweedledee,” as Barry Goldwater said dismissively of America’s two parties in the 1960s.

How’s that for fair and balanced?

You can believe, as I do, that Hillary Clinton was a flawed candidate in all sorts of ways, and that belief is still just completely irrelevant to evaluating this level of false equivalence.  It’s as if the sports media were to compare a far from optimal NFL quarterback — say, Trevor Siemian — to somebody who has never even played football, only to reach the conclusion that neither was a “good” quarterback.

Well now we’re going to get random person off the street quarterbacking our team for the next four years.  Actually worse than random person off the street — I would quite literally prefer a random person as POTUS to Donald Trump, and that’s true even if the random selection pool included infants, lunatics, and Jill Stein.

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  • I had an argument with my nephew on FB about this; his perception (backed by spurious studies like this – https://www.studentnewsdaily.com/example-of-media-bias/is-the-media-biased-toward-clinton-or-trump/) is that the media was in the tank for Clinton. This is a longstanding problem and I have no idea how to fix it.

    • ThrottleJockey

      George Washington would envy Campos’ cherry picking. :-)

      Extending the frame to include the primaries is very distorting for reasons the Kennedy Study itself notes: Much of the candidates’ “good press” was in the context of the horserace—who is winning and who is losing and why. At any given moment in the campaign, one of the candidates has the momentum, which is a source of positive coverage.

      Since Trump led the entire primary cycle he would necessarily lead in positive press mentions for Kennedy’s above stated reasons.

      The only fair apples-to-apples comparison is what happened in the general where as the study notes he got 20% more negative coverage than did Hill.

      Cherry pie anyone?

      • Paul Campos

        If only there were some way of controlling for horse race coverage effects:

        Figure 2 shows the tone of the nominees’ coverage on non-horserace topics, those that bear some relationship to the question of their fitness for office—their policy positions, personal qualities, leadership abilities, ethical standards, and the like. In Trump’s case, this coverage was 87 percent negative to 13 percent positive. Clinton’s ratio was identical—87 percent negative to 13 percent positive.

        • ThrottleJockey

          Of course. These were the 2 most disliked candidates in presidential history. He was disliked only narrowly more than her. You’d expect similarly negative levels of coverage.

          This does not mean the press favored Trump…nor does it forgive the cherry picking in the analysis.

          The bottom line on these complaints about press coverage is that it’s nothing so much as the press doesn’t reflect my personal partisan preferences.

          • brad

            Your need to repeat the same platitudes as if they have meaning is increasingly approaching a McMegan/GW Bush on the campaign trail level.
            Add new material.

            • ThrottleJockey

              Let me bottom line it for you: During the general Trump got 20% worse coverage than Hill. Ergo ipso facto the press did not favor Trump.

              • rea

                Press: Trump won’t win X 10
                Hillary is Crooked. X 8

                TJ: Trump got 20% worse coverage than Hilary!

                • ThrottleJockey

                  You’re right. The press never denounced his comments about Judge Curiel. Or about Captain Khan’s family. Or about grabbing women. Or about the 20 women who said he raped them.

                  The New York Times took 2 complete pages to print every negative Tweet Trump ever tweeted.

                  While it’s exhausting enough to witness Trump’s barrage of insults in real time, seeing them neatly collected is downright chilling.

                • Hogan

                  Is someone saying that Trump got no negative coverage?

                • ThrottleJockey

                  Rea’s comment suggests that his negative coverage consists solely/primarily of “he can’t win”:

                  Press: Trump won’t win X 10
                  Hillary is Crooked. X 8

                  His negative mentions were much more than merely that.

              • angrifon

                And that 20% reflects the fact that he trailed her in virtually every poll throughout the race. And, in fact, lost the popular vote by a large margin. However, when you control for that fact, he received the same amount of negative coverage she did. Your point that she was unpopular could not possibly be related to the fact that the press treated her unexceptional use of an email server the same as his myriad examples of unfitness ( from open racism and misogyny to his long record of corrupt business practices).

          • random

            Of course. These were the 2 most disliked candidates in presidential history.

            You can plainly see from the timeline that she’s well-liked and popular, right up until the press goes on the warpath against EMAILZ. That’s the point at which she dives into net-negative territory.

            This does not mean the press favored Trump…nor does it forgive the cherry picking in the analysis.

            Stuff it.

            The bottom line on these complaints about press coverage is that it’s nothing so much as the press doesn’t reflect my personal partisan preferences.

            The bottom line is that the press’s obsession with EMAILZ was a blatant instance of journalistic malpractice that played a major role in handing large swathes of US policy over to white nationalists and religious kooks.

            Also, you were apparently beaten over the head as a child by someone wearing a Hillary Clinton mask. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for your weird obsessive vendetta against her.

            • ThrottleJockey

              Try again Random. In April 2015 she was at 42% unfavorability. By last fall she was at 52% unfavorability. And then after ebbs and flows it basically goes up from there.

              http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/clinton_favorableunfavorable-1131.html

              • random

                Click your own link there, then uncherry-pick by clicking the little button that says ‘2Y’.

                Observe that she has positive approval right up until the EMAILZ story ramps up in early March of 2015.

                Now please, stuff it. You’re just trolling us at this point.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  Re-read the definition of cherry picking. Providing the entirety of the data is the precise opposite of cherry picking…In contrast to cherry picking, I gave you: A bowlful of cherries. :-)

                • random

                  Re-read the definition of cherry picking.

                  It has a picture of you next to it. It looks like in the corner of the picture there is a person wearing a Hillary Clinton mask holding a large stick.

                  Mystery solved.

            • Donna Gratehouse

              You can plainly see from the timeline that she’s well-liked and popular, right up until the press goes on the warpath against EMAILZ. That’s the point at which she dives into net-negative territory.

              She was around 60% approval when she announced. Shortly after that the major national newspapers of record made that shameful deal with the “Clinton Cash” charlatans and thus began her manufactured downfall.

              • random

                What’s worse is that the timeline that TJ himself just linked to plainly shows that to be the case. Her low approval rating going into the primary was directly a result of EMAILZ coverage.

              • Jackov

                Clinton had a favorable rating around 45% when she announced on April 12, 2015. Her favorable rating had not been above 55% since December 2013.

            • ThrottleJockey

              Also, you were apparently beaten over the head as a child by someone wearing a Hillary Clinton mask. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for your weird obsessive vendetta against her.

              Its not a “weird obsessive vendetta” against her. I’m going to take a moment to explain why I refuse to ever vote for “the lesser racist”.

              I was very close to my high school track coach who was white. Friendly guy, supportive guy, gave me any number of rides home. Genuinely liked him, more than anyone else on the faculty.

              I had known him for 5 years when I started dating his daughter. And that’s when the white sheet came out. He made his daughter stop dating me because he didn’t think whites should date blacks. Affirmative action, all that other stuff he supported. Anti-death penalty? Absolutely.

              But he was going to be damned if his pretty white daughter was going to date a nappy headed nigger. His daughter refused to break up with me. Subsequently he tried to get me expelled from school several times.

              So, once someone displays their racist colors I no longer trust them. Especially so if they first portrayed themselves as an ally. And based on my experience I have good reason not to. There’s a reason Hill didn’t earn my vote. After her ’08 campaign she never could. And if you’re white and you still don’t understand this, well then, that’s because you’re white. That’s lucky for you. We are the sum of our experiences and consider yourself fortunate that you haven’t had this particular -ism. Perhaps you’d deal with racism differently than I would; but that’s sheer speculation on your part.

              • random

                Its not a “weird obsessive vendetta” against her.

                It is weird, obsessive, and has a strongly personal tinge to it.

                I’m going to take a moment to explain why I refuse to ever vote for “the lesser racist”.

                And I’m going to take a moment to not read a single word of it. Watch me go!

                • ThrottleJockey

                  Random you’re the type of progressive they swears theres no such thing as racist progressives. And it’s that mentality that is the reason Hill lost. You have only yourself to blame for Trump’s erection.

              • efgoldman

                We are the sum of our experiences and consider yourself fortunate that you haven’t had this particular -ism. Perhaps you’d deal with racism differently than I would

                So, by your reasoning, because Adam Clayton Powell and Alcee Hastings were corrupt, and MLK catted around, no white person should ever listen to or trust an African American?

                • ThrottleJockey

                  Non sequitur. I never said I don’t trust any white people. I said I judge white people by their individual actions. Based on Hill’s individual actions in 08 I concluded she was racist.

                  And I do know people besides myself who think that Hill’s 08 campaign revealed her inner racist. The presidents of BLM NYC. The chair of Princeton’s African American Studies Department. Colin Kaepernick.

                  So people like me couldn’t bring ourselves to vote for someone we concluded was racist. Even if they weren’t as racist as Trump. There’s a lot of unconfronted racism in the Democratic party and until you confront it you’ll keep millions of blacks on the sidelines. Hell how long did it take the very liberal, very diversity minded LGM to get a black Front Pager? Last year. After months of complaints. And the excuses proffered for not having one were the same excuses proffered by every white guy ever. At any rate…I digress.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  The chair of Princeton’s African American Studies Department.

                  Yep, if even Cornel West can find that a Democratic candidate for president isn’t worth voting for, you know he or she is beyond the pale.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  Cornel West ain’t the Chair of Princeton’s African American Studies Department, Scott. Try again.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  Actually if Progressives want to win again you’d be better off trying to get people like I mentioned to trust progressives rather than hand waving our concerns away.

                  Didn’t you read Loomis’ post Sunday about the lack of diversity among Democratic Senate staff? Minorities have legitimate concerns about progressives and racism. It’s been that way since Woodrow Wilson.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  Hell how long did it take the very liberal, very diversity minded LGM to get a black Front Pager? Last year. After months of complaints.

                  Ha! I just noticed this. You know, TJ, in another universe, you and I might be friends–I complained about the lack of diversity (race and gender) a couple years ago.

                • I am so sick and tired of this “Hill” shit. I wonder if it’s possible to modify the pie filter to filter out comments with particular keywords.

              • ScarletNumbers

                Trolley!

                • eh

                  “Michael, what did I tell you about ‘yeppers’?”

                • ThrottleJockey

                  I’m sorry you deleted this. Troll comment. It was a good one.

              • alexceres

                ….

                You had a choice between:

                (1) growing the economy, protecting health care, and professional, experienced facts based administration with minimal corruption

                and

                (2) an incompetent psychotic orange clown who advocates executing innocent children in front page ads, was found guilty of illegal racism in housing by a court of law, rapes women, and will ruin your medical care and retirement, and is already before even taking office preparing to help his family loot the national treasury

                And you look upon this choice, and went with #2 and now rationalize it constantly in any number of ways that all sound quite lame.

                you don’t get respect for that.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  Respect? What makes you think I’m looking for your respect Alex? I just have to face the man in the mirror.

                  But don’t worry. It’s a black thang you wouldn’t understand.

                • jim, some guy in iowa

                  actually you do want respect for your half-assed Trump voting. No other reason to spend so much time talking about it

              • BartletForGallifrey

                History, if everyone behaved like TJ:

                1860: “So, once someone displays their racist colors I no longer trust them. Especially so if they first portrayed themselves as an ally. And based on my experience I have good reason not to. There’s a reason Abe didn’t earn my vote. After he said during the debates that he doesn’t believe blacks should have the right to vote or hold office, he never could.” (Too bad about that President Breckinridge thing.)

                100 years later: “So, once someone displays their racist colors I no longer trust them. Especially so if they first portrayed themselves as an ally. And based on my experience I have good reason not to. There’s a reason Lyn didn’t earn my vote. After he opposed every civil rights proposal, he never could.” (President Goldwater will be great, no worries.)

                But seriously, TJ, tell me: Would you have voted for Johnson? He was mad racist. Like, he wasn’t “pictures of Obama in scary Kenyan Muslim attire” and “they’re superpredators” racist, he was “actively voted against all civil rights legislation” and “they’re [bleeps]” racist. If you couldn’t manage to check the box for Secretary Clinton, surely you would have written someone in in ’64, right?

                • ThrottleJockey

                  Shorter Bartlet: Uppity TJ should act like it’s 1960 1860.

                  You can do better. This isn’t a defense. It’s an explanation. I’m offering up an observation of sociological behavior. You can absorb it or ignore it as you wish.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  I’m offering up the observation that your explanation is bullshit, since I don’t believe for a second you wouldn’t have voted for the lesser racist in both of those elections. And Trumpelstiltskin makes Goldwater look warm and fluffy, while Johnson makes Secretary Clinton look like Cornel West. I don’t believe that your vote had jack shit to do with her comments in 2008, and I just want you to admit that.

                  Though, really, nothing she said or did justifies you deciding that you want to sentence people to the utter horror we’re going to face for the next four years (and then a few more decades). She could have killed your cat in front of you and made you eat it and that still wouldn’t justify you deciding to sentence people to this. I don’t care if she’s an ally to you or me or anyone else. She’s not a fucking fascist. She didn’t run on a platform of Pepes and swastikas.

                  If one candidate is a Nazi, it doesn’t matter what the other one did. You vote to stop the Nazi. And if you don’t understand that, well then, that’s because no one in your family has a number on their arm. That’s lucky for you.

                  It’s already 1930 for some of us, jackass.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  Bartlet. You didn’t know me in 08 and so you didn’t see the profound sense of betrayal I and other blacks like me experienced. If you want to pretend like it didn’t happen feel free. But don’t whine about black people staying home if you insist on supporting people who turn on black people out of expediency. As Ice Cube used to say, It don’t make me none.

                  The ironic thing is, aside from Muslims and maybe Latinos black people will get it worse than anybody under a Trump Administration. Refusing to vote for Hill’s trifling ass means having to accept everything Trump dishes. To paraphrase Scripture it will be a whirlwind. I know that full well.

                  But this nigga ain’t about to be the Clinton’s bitch ever again. I’d sooner die than end up like Andrew Young or Charlie Rangel.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  Just to remind you what ’08 was like for us:

                  For several weeks, race has dominated the Democratic contest, prompting a flurry of angry words between the Obama and Clinton camps…

                  The competition pits old loyalties against new passions, and traditional kingmakers — many of whom backed Mrs. Clinton months ago — against Mr. Obama’s grass-roots energy.

                  Another prominent Clinton supporter from the civil rights era, Andrew Young, also defended Mrs. Clinton. “Hillary Clinton, first of all, has Bill behind her,” Mr. Young said on a recent Webcast devoted to African-American issues. “And Bill is every bit as black as Barack.

                  One [voter] suggested that the recent furor over race in the campaign had eroded blacks’ affection for Bill Clinton. “With him trying to force-feed us Hillary, I think it’s jeopardizing his legacy,” the man said.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  Bartlet. You didn’t know me in 08 and so you didn’t see the profound sense of betrayal I and other blacks like me experienced. If you want to pretend like it didn’t happen feel free. But don’t whine about black people staying home if you insist on supporting people who turn on black people out of expediency. As Ice Cube used to say, It don’t make me none.

                  Now she betrayed you in ’08? I thought she was already terrible and evil because of superpredators and things her husband did.

                  And I do, believe it or not, know *other* black people, and I make a point to read what black people are saying, and I’m not unaware of what happened in 2008. I wasn’t happy with everything she did and said. I’m not under the impression she’s some sort of innocent pure angel.

                  The ironic thing is, aside from Muslims and maybe Latinos black people will get it worse than anybody under a Trump Administration.

                  But this nigga ain’t about to be the Clinton’s bitch ever again. I’d sooner die than end up like Andrew Young or Charlie Rangel.

                  Yeah, well, as has been pointed out to you, and as everyone over the age of six should be able to understand, it isn’t just about you. You didn’t just decide that you can live with what happens under that administration; you decided that you’re fine with other people suffering. Including people you admit will have it worse than you.

                  You’d rather die? Fine. Die. That’s your choice. Whatever.

                  You want to sentence other people to die? Not fine. Not fucking fine at all.

                  And when I say it, it’s not hypothetical or hyperbole. People are going to die. People. Are. Going. To. Die. Because. Of. What. Happened. A. Month. Ago. People are going to die because they don’t have health care. People are going to die if he pulls us into some war that makes Iraq look reasonable and well-planned. People are going to die when there’s a terrorist attack because he doesn’t go to his security briefings. People are going to die because they get attacked by bigots who feel emboldened. People are going to die when they have to turn to illegal abortions.

                  Who the fuck are you or anyone else to put your personal feelings or beliefs above other people’s lives?

                • ThrottleJockey

                  I think it will be worst than you just said to be perfectly honest. I don’t know if the Republic survives. Or what form it takes if it does. It might be another Reconstruction. And that might be a rosy scenario. Trump is liable to do any fool thing including launching nuclear weapons.

                  You ask me how I justify my decision when I’ve said multiple times for 3 days now that I’m not offering a justification. I’m offering an explanation not a defense. The justification was provided by our ancestors and experience. IOW this may be an inopportune time to insist on sitting at the front of the bus nonetheless that’s our decision.

                  And it’s a wise one if ultimately a costly one. Even now, aware of the controversies of Hill’s 08 campaign, we hear half hearted defenses “it wasn’t the campaign I wanted to see run”. “She’s not innocent.” Sometimes black people just want to hear, “It was a racist fucked up thing and I’m sorry.” And sometimes that’s enough to get people to trust you again. But without trust there’s nothing.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  The justification for deciding to let untold numbers of innocent people, many of whom are even more marginalized than I am, suffer and die was provided by our ancestors and experience.

                  FTFY. Since you value honesty so much.

                  “Our,” by the way–I can’t find final, reputable numbers on black turnout. I’ve found early ones, but we know that the early numbers are crap. I’ve found random people on blogs making their own calculations, but, well. Do you have such numbers somewhere?

                  I did find this, from 2012. Money quote:

                  Black turnout was highest in Wisconsin, Mississippi, and North Carolina.

                  So weird that two of those are states that then enacted outrageous, blatantly racist laws to keep black voters from voting! Even weirder that one of them then voted for a Republican for the first time in 30 years!

                  Any discussion of black turnout that doesn’t mention the effects of those laws is invalid as far as I’m concerned.

                  ETA: Even Teen Vogue gets it!

              • veleda_k

                Sigh. It would be one thing if your actual behavior supported this explanation. Instead, you fixate on the same dumb conspiracy theories, like insisting in the face of all actual evidence that the Clinton Foundation is corrupt. You insist on using trivializing diminutives for her, then offer paper thin excuses for why this is totally respectful. You defend anyone who hits your favorite punching bag, like James Comey, and you even once tried to claim that while Trump was racist, he hadn’t aimed that racism at African-Americans, until you were hit with so much evidence, even you had to back down. Anyone who attacks Hillary Clinton seems to earn the benefit of the doubt from you. A large part of this appears to be your inability to understand that evidence for Clinton’s corruption doesn’t exist.

                I have no interest in convincing you that Hillary Clinton isn’t racist. I don’t think it’s my place to lecture you on that. But your own, repeated behavior does not support that being at the heart of your dislike of her. Because it’s possible to think Clinton racist while not believing bullshit conspiracy theories about her. It’s possible to consider Clinton’s behavior in the 2008 primary unconscionable without trying to make her out to be more dishonest than she actually is. And nothing requires anyone to become a one person Comey defense squad.

                You just… don’t seem to get this.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  Veleda with Hill and Bill having revealed themselves to be racist in 08 after having previously promoted themselves as allies why would I believe anything else they ever say again? They lie as frequently as pigs shit.

                  You like a lot of people let politics color your perceptions. Back in 08 I could count on 1 hand the number of everyday black people who thought Hill’s campaign wasn’t racist. Indeed it was ironic watching tools of the Democratic establishment like Andrew Young saying– multiple times– that Bill was more black than Obama. What a damn old fool.

                  But out of political expediency you have some blacks who forgive, forget, or ignore Hill & Bill’s past transgressions. I’m not one to do that. That’s how you end up like Andrew Young or Charlie Rangel*. Our people have been too forgiving these past 400 years. When people reveal themselves to be a snake you don’t take them in as a pet.

                  Last summer, a Brooklyn lawmaker ran into Representative Charles B. Rangel of Harlem and they began discussing the presidential race. Mr. Rangel, 77, bluntly told the younger politician that he should get on board with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

                  “The sentiment was that she is going to be the president if she wins and still the senator if she loses,” the Brooklyn lawmaker said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was describing a private conversation. “The message was: You don’t want to be on the wrong side.”

                  “Perhaps he is disconnected from the average person, the man on the street,” said the Rev. Karim Camara, an assemblyman from central Brooklyn, who has endorsed Mr. Obama. “The people in the barber shops, in the churches, on the blogs, are all expressing their outrage and dismay about her comments about Dr. King.”

                  So yeah for turning 2 Civil Rights heroes into 2 doddering old fools fuck if I ever vote for Clinton.

                • veleda_k

                  You like a lot of people let politics color your perceptions.

                  I’m sorry, I had to take a minute to duck that enormous boulder crashing through this glass house.

                  why would I believe anything else they ever say again?

                  By that logic, George W. Bush being a homophobic scumbag who lied out his ass to get us into war should have turned me into a 9/11 truther. It didn’t, of course. I have a better grasp of reality than that.

                  You don’t have to trust anything she says. You might try trusting all those investigations that have found no corruption. You might try not trusting Republican conspiracy theories, given that Republicans are not exactly a powerful force for racial equality. Ignoring all evidence that doesn’t support your preexisting hatred and going along with other racists, as long as they’re not that racist, that’s what makes us label this a weirdly personal vendetta.

        • scott_theotherone

          You and your damn facts can just shut right the hell up.

      • If one withdraws the ‘horserace’ stories from general election coverage (which you seem to agree added to both Clinton’s positive coverage and Trump’s negative coverage), is it your contention that Clinton comes out ahead? Because it doesn’t look like it.

        ETA: Campos beat me to it.

        • Paul Campos

          Also Clinton led the race for the entire primary cycle, so even without controlling for horse race effects TJ is making a distinction without a difference.

          • ThrottleJockey

            That’s not true: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/04/a-sanders-surge-in-polling-if-not-delegates/477198/

            Hill ran a much closer race with Sanders than Trump ran with the GOP field. So he benefited from horse race coverage to an extent she could not.

            • gmack
              • ThrottleJockey

                I didn’t cherry pick. Paul made a factually untrue statement which I demonstrated was incorrect. I never so much as implied that Sanders led most of the time. I explicitly said Hill ran a closer primary campaign than did Trump. “Closer” does not equal losing.

                • Hogan

                  No, you strongly implied that he led ever. Which didn’t happen.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  I implied no such thing. Closer not equal led. Stop the glue huffing.

                • gmack

                  Paul’s claim:

                  Also Clinton led the race for the entire primary cycle

                  This statement is in fact an entirely accurate description of the primary campaign, at least if we look at poll averages. In response you claimed that Paul’s statement was not true, and you cited one poll as evidence for your claim. However, if we look at poll averages, your assertion that Paul’s claim is “not true” is in fact incorrect. And the evidence you provided in support of it is a textbook example of cherry picking.

                  As for your claim comparing Trump’s lead to Clinton’s, well, once again, let’s actually take a look: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/us/2016_republican_presidential_nomination-3823.html?utm_source=hootsuite

                  It’s difficult to compare the two graphs (there were more Republican participants, and the two graphs don’t cover the same date range). However, just eyeballing it, it seems that Clinton’s lead over Sanders was more stable than Trump’s lead over the field. And I’m guessing (I have literally no interest whatever in doing the calculations) that if we took a simple average of Clinton’s lead over the time frame covered in this graph, it would be larger than the Trump’s average lead in the time frame covered in that graph.

                • Hogan

                  Clinton led the race for the entire primary cycle

                  That’s not true

                  I implied no such thing. Closer not equal led.

                  LAY. OFF. THE CRACK.

                • XTPD

                  @Hogan: TJ’s being an ass here, but telling him to “lay off the crack” has, shall we say, unfortunate implications.

            • Paul Campos

              Clinton led the Democratic race in the prediction markets by wider margin than Trump led the GOP race in those markets for almost the entire cycle.

              • ThrottleJockey

                Prediction markets and polls are two different things.

        • rea

          The problem is, TJ thinks all the negative stories about HRC are true.

          • steve Rodent

            TJ “thinks,” good one.

          • ThrottleJockey

            Not all. Just some. There’s been lots of lies and sexist things written about her. Plenty of outright mean garbage. Straight conspiracy theory shit.

            That’s not too say she hasn’t gotten some fair fact-based criticisms. And she earned those.

            • random

              There’s been lots of lies and sexist things written about her. Plenty of outright mean garbage. Straight conspiracy theory shit.

              That’s not too say she hasn’t gotten some fair fact-based criticisms. And she earned those.

              We have already shown you that almost the only thing the press reported about her was EMAILZ. And that was definitely neither fact-based nor fair.

              The content of that reporting is just as damning as the quantity. Almost every bit of it is speculation, rumours, and anonymous sources who invariably turn out to be wrong. At one point the NYT claimed on its front page that she was being criminally indicted. And the only times when that reporting isn’t flying blind, it’s relying on James Comey breaking his own departmental procedures.

              Yes there is something rotten going on with the so-called ‘centrist’ press and with journalism. They play a huge role in promoting and empowering conservative Republicans, and we’re not wrong to point it out.

            • rea

              That’s not too say she hasn’t gotten some fair fact-based criticisms

              Name one.

              • ThrottleJockey

                OBAMA SLAMS SMEAR PHOTO

                Obama campaign manager David Plouffe accused the Clinton campaign Monday of “shameful offensive fear-mongering” by circulating a photo as an attempted smear.

                Plouffe was reacting to a banner headline on the Drudge Report saying that aides to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) had e-mailed a photo calling attention to the African roots of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

                • random

                  Definitely a weird, obsessive vendetta.

      • Joe Bob the III

        Maybe his press coverage was 20% more negative because that’s the coverage he earned.

        There was:
        stoking ethnic and religious hatred
        physically mocking a disabled reporter
        the ongoing feud with the Khan family
        “Grab her by the pussy.”
        Alicia Machado
        “Lock her up.”
        “You would be in jail.”
        or The 289 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter

        If anything, Trump’s coverage was far more positive than he deserved.

        • Exactly, and on top of everything you listed –

          – lack of transparency in taxes and businesses
          – an active fraud lawsuit in court
          – all of the underpaid and stiffed contractors and vendors

          He earned a lot more negative coverage than he got.

          • Davis X. Machina

            All true, and all irrelevant.

            “He hates the same people I hate — give me the goddamn ballot.”

            That’s the election. The rest is commentary.

            • Gimme a break. The people who are motivated to vote in this way had already decided long before the primary began to vote Republican.

              If you disagree so strongly with Lemieux’s/Campos’s posts on Comey’s letter to Congress and the media’s malpractice, how do you account for the late break for Trump that gave him a narrow EC victory?

        • ThrottleJockey

          Absolutely his outrageous behavior earned him negative coverage.

      • los

        Trump led the entire primary cycle he would necessarily lead in positive press mentions for Kennedy’s above stated reasons

        Clinton also led in the (D) primaries, so maybe the bias favored R in general?

  • Denverite

    It’s as if the sports media were to compare a far from optimal NFL quarterback — say, Trevor Siemian — to somebody who has never even played football, only to reach the conclusion that neither was a “good” quarterback.

    It really says something about the state of the Broncos that I obsessively check Mike Klis and Troy Renck’s twitter feeds praying for good news about Trev’s foot.

    I did really get down in the weeds and figure out that Denver still has a chance at the division if KC beats Oakland tomorrow (probably likely), KC loses to Denver plus Tennessee or SD (probably unlikely but not impossible), and Denver wins out (very unlikely). In that scenario, Denver and Oakland are 12-4 but Denver wins on the fifth tiebreaker (strength of victory).

  • nemdam

    FWIW, I find Hillary much better than Trevor Siemian.

    But regardless of how Hillary compares to NFL QBs, this study is jaw dropping if not unexpected.

    • Nobdy

      I think Hillary is actually an Eli Manning type. Been around a long time, a known quantity, benefits from relationship to more famous relative but still accomplished on own merits. Not going to set the world on fire and makes unforced errors but also not going to be below replacement level.

      Actually she and Eli have a lot in common.

      • sleepyirv

        “Complimenting Kissinger” is her “throwing into double coverage for no particular reason.”

        • Rob in CT

          I can think of several errors that look a lot more consequential than what she said about Kissinger. How many people do you really think gave a shit about that?

          In comparison to, say, her having gotten paid a bunch of money to blow smoke up bankers asses (to be clear, I think that was basically unimportant, but I’m not the sort of guy who might stay home or switch over and vote R)! Or Deplorables?

          Just an odd pick to make.

          • sleepyirv

            It’s a joke. I did not make a chart for side-by-side comparisons.

            If it makes you happy, consider “taking money from bankers” to be “throwing an interception” and EMAILS!!! scandal stuff “throwing an interception in the endzone.”

      • Bootsie

        Both opposed by Tom Brady.

        • Denverite

          Yeah, but Eli won.

          • lunaticllama

            Twice!

    • Denverite

      FWIW, I find Hillary much better than Trevor Siemian.

      Actually, if I could give her an NFL QB rating as a candidate, an 89 point whatever sounds a little high. That’s roughly average, and she ain’t that.

      • First woman to get a major party presidential nomination. First woman to win the plurality of the popular vote.

        • BartletForGallifrey

          First woman to win the plurality of the popular vote.

          I generally say she won the majority of the vote. “The greater part” is a perfectly acceptable definition.* I feel like “plurality” makes her win sound less impressive than it is–she’s going to beat him by 2%!–when in reality only two people in the last quarter-century have gotten over 50% of the vote. Only once in that time has a non-incumbent managed it. Getting just a plurality is just fine.

          *Not that I consulted multiple dictionaries or anything.

          • Jameson Quinn

            So just say “win the popular vote” then.

          • Winning a majority of the vote is, like you said, a more difficult achievement. So I think I’ll stick to “plurality”. Also “won a higher percentage of the vote than the last person named Clinton who ran”.

            • BartletForGallifrey

              “won a higher percentage of the vote than the last person named Clinton who ran”.

              Lmao I love it.

        • Denverite

          She’s lost her last two races, both of which she had overwhelming institutional advantages (she entered the 2008 primary as the candidate favored by the Democratic establishment, and she ran against Trump in 2016).

          • BartletForGallifrey

            How interesting that you’re counting the 2008 primary but not the 2016 primary here.

            • Denverite

              Fair enough. I stand corrected. She lost two out of the last three and the one she won she ran against a socialist who had been part of the Democratic party for about five minutes. And the punchline there is he actually almost made it a race.

              • BartletForGallifrey

                2000 primary: Won.
                2000 general: Won.
                2006 general: Won.
                2008 primary: Lost (by less than one point).
                2016 primary: Won.
                2016 general: Lost (1787 America; swept 2016 America).

                Yes, Hillary Clinton is truly America’s Worst Politician.

                ETA:

                And the punchline there is he actually almost made it a race.

                You can’t both claim he’s soooo easy to beat *and* claim that he would have won the general, you know that right?

                • Denverite

                  Even there! She won in the 2000 general when her opponent dropped out, and she won in the 2006 general as a Democratic incumbent in a Democratic wave election. And this doesn’t address the main point, which is that she lost in 2008 despite being the favorite-to-heavy-favorite, and she lost in 2016 despite running against Donald Trump.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  despite being the favorite-to-heavy-favorite

                  q-tip addresses that below.

                  and she lost in 2016 despite running against Donald Trump.

                  I eagerly await your analysis of the failings of Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Lindsey Graham, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, and the other 30 or 40 people he beat in the primary. They must be atrocious politicians!

                • Denverite

                  q-tip addresses that below.

                  Not really. q-tip’s point is that some of the Democratic institutional support migrated to Obama when he entered the race. Sure! I’m not saying she had all of the support and he had none! I’m saying that she had more support — and I think a lot more support — from the get-go. Remember superdelegates? As she started losing, the support melted away, but it was there at the start. And she lost despite those advantages.

                  As for Trump, I don’t think the GOP primary tells you much except that there were way too many candidates at the start, and at least the plurality of GOP primary voters are now formally insane.

                • Denverite

                  Didn’t see this.

                  You can’t both claim he’s soooo easy to beat *and* claim that he would have won the general, you know that right?

                  Oh, I think Clinton probably did better than Sanders would have in the general. (FWIW, I didn’t vote in the caucus because I’m not a registered Dem for professional reasons, but if I had, I would have voted for Clinton.) My point is that Sanders should have been a vanity candidate and yet he actually managed to win like 40% of the votes.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  at least the plurality of GOP primary voters are now formally insane.

                  As are over 64 million Americans.

                  Oh hey perhaps that helps explain the result (along with the whole “giving slaveholders extra votes” thing): The American people are batshit bugfuck bonkers lunatic insane crazy nutjobs.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  Oh, I think Clinton probably did better than Sanders would have in the general. (FWIW, I didn’t vote in the caucus because I’m not a registered Dem for professional reasons, but if I had, I would have voted for Clinton.)

                  Apologies. I must have been confusing you with someone else on that.

                • Murc

                  That list is bullshit. You don’t get to count races where you are effectively unopposed as proof of political skill and competence.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  You don’t get to count races where you are effectively unopposed as proof of political skill and competence.

                  Christ. Yes, if we dismiss all the races that don’t fit our theories, Hillary Clinton is either the greatest or the worst politician of all time.

                  I’m always intrigued by the assumption that of course she would just skate to a win for Senate once she had the nomination. Pataki won a statewide race two years before, and two years after. Giuliani was NYC mayor.* It’s not like she could just sit at home eating bon-bons and assume she’d be handed the seat on a silver platter.

                  *Also, somehow Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens voted for Giuliani in 1997 but against Pataki in 1998, which?

                • Scott Lemieux

                  Also, the GOP seriously contested the Senate seat in 2000. Lazio was not a punchline when he entered the race. Clinton made him one.

                • Murc

                  Christ. Yes, if we dismiss all the races that don’t fit our theories, Hillary Clinton is either the greatest or the worst politician of all time.

                  Massive non-sequitur.

                  I’m always intrigued by the assumption that of course she would just skate to a win for Senate once she had the nomination.

                  Citing her 2000 race is fine. But you cite the 2000 primary and 2006 general, neither of them circumstances in which she faced any real opposition.

                  The statement “when you face no real opposition, winning isn’t a sign of your political skill” shouldn’t be controversial. And yet.

              • Donna Gratehouse

                Correction, Sanders was never part of the Democratic Party. He was a saboteur from without the whole time.

                • Murc

                  This is a vile and slanderous lie.

                • efgoldman

                  This is a vile and slanderous lie.

                  He was never a Democrat. That’s true. The other is opinion which can be credibly argued.

                • Murc

                  The other is opinion which can be credibly argued.

                  No, it can’t. The idea that Sanders has been trying to sabotage the Democratic Party in any meaningful way is precisely as risible as the idea that the DNC rigged the results of the New York primary. Period.

                • jim, some guy in iowa

                  yeah, I can’t get behind the idea Sanders wanted to sabotage the Democratic party. At this late date it’s an extremely damaging thing to say

                  he’d have taken it over if he could have, though- which is how politics *works*

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  I don’t think he wanted to sabotage it–I certainly don’t for a moment think he wanted this outcome–but I do believe that he got pissed off and lashed out in ways that were damaging, and ways that an actual Democrat probably wouldn’t have.

                  It just occurred to me, too: Bernie Sanders doesn’t really have experience with primaries. It looks like in 1990 he ran in the primary for the House, lost, and promptly won the hell out of the general. And after that he was the incumbent and there were weird primaries with people who later ran as Republicans, but basically he won reelection without batting an eye until 2006, when he won the Democratic Senate primary with, uh, 94% of the vote.

                  So he’s not used to the idea of a primary where you don’t end up running against each other again in the general. In Vermont, apparently everyone who runs in the primary then finds a new party to run in the general. He’s not used to supporting someone you were opposing ten minutes ago.

                  He’s also not used to losing. He’s really, really not used to losing.

                  So when he started to, he lashed out. And he lashed out in ways that would have been fine in a Vermont primary, but were not fine in a primary where he was expected to support the winner. And were not fine when many of his supporters were also new to primaries and new to losing (Vermont, otoh, has the second-oldest median age in the country, at 42.8. I don’t know the median age of a Sanders primary voter, but I know it was not 42.8).

                  It was, as then happened again in the general, a perfect storm.

                • BartletForGallifrey

                  Hmm. Angry Hillbots keep saying we should ban non-Dems from our primary, but maybe we should just ban people from Vermont, where people apparently regularly run in the Democratic primary and then run as Republicans in the general? Damn dirty hippies.

            • q-tip

              Mmmm, I’ll pick a nit and say that’s not What’s Really Wrong With Denverite’s Comment (IMO). I think it makes sense to say her 2008 candidacy ended at the semi-final stage*, but in 2016 she made it to the finals. So two losses out of the last two attempts for the championship. (But she wins the second in the hearts of the fans.)

              The “overwhelming institutional advantages” bit is the problem. Obama garnered significant “establishment” support pretty quickly once he entered, and I don’t think support from the Democratic establishment matters in the general in 2016 – after all, Trump had only slightly less support from the GOPE.

              * I hope I used the sportsball metaphor correctly! My Uncle Jim would be so proud.

              • random

                Should be pointed out that Hillary did better against Obama than just about any other election opponent he’s ever faced.

                Also, he’s the freaking One. Of course you’re gonna lose to him.

                • Denverite

                  Should be pointed out that Hillary did better against Obama than just about any other election opponent he’s ever faced.

                  Except Bobby Rush in 2000.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  Ouch. Good one.

                  Were you at UC then?

      • Scott Lemieux

        I think generic – gets Clinton about right. Only rather than being just sort of OK like Kerry she has major strengths and major weaknesses. So I like off-peak Eli as the comp.

  • Dilan Esper

    The media can’t do what you and Scott want them to.

    Some of the reasons are craven- like not losing favor with Republicans and not offending Republican readers. But some are legitimate- the press will quickly lose credibility as a source of information if they appear to actively opposing a major party candidate for President.

    I don’t think there is a solution to this problem. This is really built into a free press in a two party, polarized system.

    • medrawt

      I’ve come to believe that a media outlet cannot be

      (1) Informative and truthful
      (2) Unideological
      (3) Beholden to the need for profit

      all at the same time. Whether that’s a product of our particular political system I don’t know.

      • liberal

        (2) Unideological

        It’s impossible for the media to be truly unideological. Merely deciding what to cover, and how frequently, involves choices, and there’s no ideology-free algorithm for doing that.

        • CP

          It’s also impossible to be unideological because bluntly, not all ideologies are equally in touch with reality, not all factions are equally well (or badly) behaved, etc. Reporting truthfully is inherently ideological, because not all sides of a political debate are created equal.

          There is no way to truthfully report on health care in the U.S. and in Canada and most of Western Europe that won’t be “biased” “against” the U.S, because the American health insurance system sucks hairy ass by developed world standards (though much less than it used to), period. There is no way to truthfully report on standards of living in Kansas vs Maryland that won’t be “biased” “against” Kansas, for similar reasons. There is no way to truthfully report on budget deficit reduction under Democratic vs Republican presidents that won’t be “biased” “against” the Republicans, for similar reasons. Etc.

    • Morse Code for J

      There is a solution, and it’s called doing their fucking jobs.

      I don’t think it’s too much to ask that any article wherein a headline describes shadows cast over Hillary Clinton by her Foundation to identify legitimate sources for those shadows, instead of what-ifs that are not substantiated by the facts in the article. If Hillary Clinton is “close to indictment,” I’d like to know on what basis, since we usually have to be told what crimes we are charged with in this country. If there is any doubt about a proposition contained in a headline, it should appear in the goddamn lede, not in paragraph 24 towards the end of the A section.

      • Nang Mai

        Despite all the space given over to ’emails’ little discussion and analysis happened in the MSM of the bigger stories involved. The reporters were too lazy to even sift through the contents.

        The contents show a disconnect between her public and private positions on policies, evidence of pay-to-play politics as well as some possible ethics breaches in the running of the foundation. Very few MSM outlets even talked about how having a private server potentially hid the contents from FOIA requests.

        Journalists are doing their jobs: they are propping up the system. They have proven time and again they only rarely function as a fourth estate.

      • los

        If there is any doubt about a proposition contained in a headline, it should appear in the goddamn lede, not in paragraph 24

        Snopes has adapted. Snopes provides a vague overview just below headline, “MOSTLY FALSE     X’s statement missed the basis of the story…”

        • los

          Irresponsible Liberell Meedia fails to fit whole story into headline/title (Scandal!!!!)

          Consequence commonly seen on the web:
          1. altcuck pastes link as “proof” of opinion.
          2. altcuck can’t comprehend that text at the link contradicts what altcuck claims the text “proves”.

          • los

            Irresponsible Liberell Meedia fails to fit whole story into auto-abridged url (Scandal!!!!)

            Less commonly seen on the web:
            1. altcuck sees blob of altcuck text containing “proof” in link
            2. altcuck copypastas link copypastated from elsewhere
            3. altcuck never tried visiting the link.[1]

            ______
            1. The altcuck copypasta includes (plain text of) an auto-link, which the current site auto-links as if a complete url, creating such as: http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/20…false-equivalence/. Altcuck would be unable to find the complete URL, by googling the copypasta “source”.

      • The Lorax

        Yep.

        That Perlstein piece is so good. It’s the best thing I’ve read on the election yet. And it gets at why I’ve been in a rage (that shows no signs of diminishing anytime soon) at outlets like NPR, CNN, and NYT since the election. I just wish that some of the coming consequences could be directed away from the poor and marginalized and toward these journalists.

      • searcher

        I see the press portrayed as incompetent cowards who are afraid of being called liberal and worship balance, but have you considered the simpler explanation?

        Maybe The Press is actually by and large a bunch of misogynistic upper-class white supremacists who softballed Donald Trump and tore down Clinton because this was their desired outcome, a white man in the White House who is going to cut their taxes and make America white again.

        People always say you should assume incompetence before malevolence, but in my experience you aren’t often wrong if you assume racism/sexism.

    • Nobdy

      They lose a lot more credibility when they fail to call out the obvious truth that Donald Trump is in no way equivalent to Hillary Clinton.

      And who would they lose credibility with anyway? Right wingers ALREADY don’t trust the press.

      The press should tell the truth even if it is uncomfortable. They didn’t here, not really, and they should be pilloried for it. A lot of people are going to die and millions will suffer for their cowardice.

      • los

        WaPo et al. lose readers if they sacrifice centrist readership by trying to pamper Trumpcucks (and whatever new *cuck name they’ll angrily adopt amidst Trump’s 2017 disasters).

    • rea

      It would be a crying shame is the news media could influence the outcome of a campaign by reporting the facts.

      If reporters want influence the outcome of an election, they should go join the FBI

    • More than that, I think it would be more corrosive for the media to set themselves up as doing that in a world where they’re in fact subject to the constraints medrawt lists.

    • brewmn

      Oh, bullshit. They could have given any number of Trump scandals the amount of attention they gave the Clinton Foundation and/or EMAILZ!!! The only one that came close was Pussygate.

      Or, they could have talked about policy, and pointed out that any of Trump’s proposals that we’re not Republican feed-the-rich starve-the-poor boilerplate likely would be ruinous to our economy as currently structured, costing many more jobs than they saved. Or that, in his business dealings, he relied on outsourcing, union-busting, etc., making his claims to be for the working guy suspect at best. As opposed to Hillary, who actually had a platform and record of support for the middle and working classes, even if she did give speeches to Goldman Sachs.

      The media has adopted right-wing framing as its default setting. You know who saw those clouds over Hillary’s e-mail issues? Republicans. Why should that be reported uncritically by the allegedly objective media?

      • veleda_k

        The only one that came close was Pussygate.

        And I’d bet you cash money that was because the press loved having the excuse to say pussy a thousand times.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Oh, bullshit. They could have given any number of Trump scandals the amount of attention they gave the Clinton Foundation and/or EMAILZ!!! The only one that came close was Pussygate.

        Could you imagine if Hillary Clinton refused to release her tax returns?

    • Shell4747

      So I guess as long as one party nominates candidates sufficiently incompetent they can’t be accurately covered because it might appear the media is “actively opposing” the candidate. If that’s the case, someday we might begin to think Trump was a beacon of sense & competence. FFS.

      • BartletForGallifrey

        So the Dems should nominate Jill Stein is what you’re saying?

        • efgoldman

          So the Dems should nominate Jill Stein is what you’re saying?

          Lyndon LaRouche

          • Bruce B.

            Why not both?

    • Sly

      The “craven” and “legitimate” reasons you cite are part of the same package, with the former proceeding from the latter; the desire by institutions within the formal press to currey favor with Republican politicians and their constituencies is a direct result of Republican hyperpartisans never granting institutions within the formal press any credibility to begin with.

    • Scott Lemieux

      The media can’t do what you and Scott want them to.

      The idea that the media had absolutely no choice but to engage in the interminable orgy of EMAILS! chicken-fucking is just absolutely absurd. The idea that the media cannot cover policy is also equally absurd.

  • Morse Code for J

    Amusingly, I get an ad by this article asking me to vote in a poll on the question, “Should Hillary still be indicted?” brought to you by the Sound Money Defense League.

    • Jameson Quinn

      Click it. Money for LGM!

      • Bufflars

        And a Trojan virus for your effort!

  • pillsy

    Hillary Clinton had flaws when judged by the standards we usually judge candidates. I don’t think they were overwhelming, but you compare her to Obama or Bill Clinton and she comes off worse in some ways [1].

    Donald Trump meets precisely none of the standards that have been used to judge candidates in the past. I take everything I thought was bad about previous Republican nominees–guys I enthusiastically voted against and generally loathed–and he’s straight-up worse. He makes McCain look reserved and collected, W. look curious and humble, and Romney look human. You can’t look past his flaws as a candidate and see a person who might not be so bad outside the Oval Office, either–he appears to be a toxic egomaniac, an idiot, a bigot, a serial sexual predator, and a grasping crook.

    But the press hates Hillary Clinton in particular, and Democrats in general, for being boring and having policy preferences. At least Trump will do stuff that sells clicks! And lets them tell fun stories about the lunatics and knaves he’s surrounding himself with!

    [1] IMO she comes off better in others. Nobody’s perfect.

    • XTPD

      And also for not cutting their taxes.

    • Nobdy

      Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are transcendent political talents. In comparison to John Kerry or Mike Dukakis Hillary doesn’t look too bad.

      Is she even worse than Jimmy Carter? I am not old enough to recall his campaigns.

      • pillsy

        I agree to an extent to their talents, but even they had their flaws. Bill more than Obama, IMO, but neither was perfect, and both made unforced errors during their campaigns.

        • searcher

          I’m honestly a little tired of the bullshit about “unforced political errors”.

          I’m sure there is occasionally a politician caught on a live mic cackling about how, soon, his plans will come to fruition and then he’ll betray everyone who ever supported him, but 99% of the time the “political error” everyone tut-tuts about was the politician expressing an opinion the listener disagreed with.

          When Dukakis reaffirmed his opposition to the death penalty, it wasn’t a goddamn political error, it was a man expressing an unpopular opinion that, nevertheless, many people fervently agree with.

          Political beliefs aren’t a goddamn coloring book. There isn’t some obvious set of lines to color inside of to be a perfect liberal or a perfect Democrat. We’re all just free-handing our own interpretation and not a one of the drawings will be the same, if you look close enough.

          A politician expressing an opinion that is different from yours may be a reason not to vote for them, it may be a jumping off point to try to convince them and others to adopt your position, but it isn’t an error.

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            “unforced error” quite often turns out to mean “candidate said/did something positive to/about/for people I don’t like”

      • Sly

        Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are transcendent political talents.

        Failing to trigger the most gullible and debauched sensibilities of white America as a left-leaning politician takes talent, but its a pretty fucking worthless definition of transcendent.

      • randy khan

        I am old enough to have followed every campaign since 1976. HRC was not as good as WJC or Obama, but hardly anyone is.

        Dukakis was a terrible general election candidate, the worst of the bunch. He had no idea how to adapt or to respond to attacks. The famous “What would you do if someone murdered your wife?” debate question was the campaign in microcosm.

        Mondale was somewhat better than Dukakis, but I’m not really sure it mattered. His line about raising taxes at the convention probably killed him, although in practice the Reagan campaign was a juggernaut and he was unlikely to win unless Reagan died.

        Kerry and Carter both were fairly competent candidates. Carter actually ran a pretty strong campaign in 1976, although Ford had some tough headwinds as the GOP nominee after Watergate. His problem in 1980 was his Presidency, not his campaigning. Kerry ran a good campaign, and almost made it, despite running against a war President.

        I’d rank HRC’s campaign this time as clearly ahead of Dukakis and Mondale, and probably ahead of both Carter and Kerry, although it’s a good bit closer in both cases.

        • q-tip

          This judge gives her a tie with Kerry – both got blindsided by bullshit. Actually, they both got Blindsided By Boomer Bullshit, if you want to get generational about it.

          She handled her bullshit better, but his smear-attackers’ bullshit was 100% pure bullshit instead of 90-whatever percent.

          • randy khan

            I won’t argue with a tie between HRC and Kerry. I’d give her a slight edge, as I said above, but it’s certainly a reasonable view.

        • efgoldman

          His problem in 1980 was his Presidency, not his campaigning.

          He wouldn’t have won against Sanctus Ronaldus Magnus in pretty much any case, but being primaried by Ted Kennedy, and publicly disparaged by Tip O’Neill (both of which were representing me at the time, dammit) certainly didn’t help.

          • weirdnoise

            Nor did the media’s constant obsession with the embassy hostages in Iran help…

        • nixnutz

          I’m probably giving too much weight to my memories as an 8-year-old but I think Carter was an almost perfect candidate for 1976, post-Watergate, John Denver was still a big deal… He may not have been charismatic or a brilliant politician but in that cycle he had something just as powerful.

    • Rob in CT

      +1.

    • Davis X. Machina

      Donald Trump meets precisely none of the standards that have been used to judge candidates in the past.

      “He hates the same people I hate. Hand me the goddam ballot.” There’s your election. The rest is commentary.

  • Nobdy

    The press in America is so vacuous that maybe losing the first amendment to Heir Trump won’t be so bad.

    These email stories were painful at the time but in retrospect they look like a conspiracy of idiots to destroy the world. Press morons who wrote “cloud of suspicion” stories should be named and shamed. Blood is on their hands.

    • BigHank53

      The press in America is so vacuous that maybe losing the first amendment to Heir Trump won’t be so bad.

      Hey, be fair: it’s not like they were using it for anything.

  • djw

    — I would quite literally prefer a random person as POTUS to Donald Trump, and that’s true even if the random selection pool included infants, lunatics, and Jill Stein.

    I’ve been thinking about this question in the following terms: Since the median age in the US is around 38, the total population of people minimally legally qualified to be POTUS is probably around half the country–slightly more than half are over 35, but subtract the non-natural born. Let’s say 150 million. How many of those people are worse choices than Trump? I’m sure there are a few–perhaps a few million–but not much more than that. (Lots of people are as or more ignorant, but the vast majority of them would know they were in over their heads.) That Trump is below the 5th percentile among the eligible population seems almost indisputable.

    • Denverite

      Since the median age in the US is around 38

      Thanks for ruining my Wednesday.

      • Crusty

        +1

      • djw

        For the world it’s 30 just finally ticked above 30 for the first time.

        • q-tip

          FUCK YOU DJW

    • N__B

      Let’s say 150 million. How many of those people are worse choices than Trump? I’m sure there are a few–perhaps a few million–but not much more than that.

      I have never been so proud to be the hundreth-million choice for a job.

    • BartletForGallifrey

      I’ve yet to come up with a single presidential nominee from any party ever I wouldn’t prefer to him. *Possibly* Andrew Johnson. But then even he, while racist and terrible, knew how the government worked. AFAICT, he didn’t appoint wildly, outrageously unqualified people to run agencies.

      It’s that “literally has no idea how the government works including that he has to staff it” factor that really makes Trumplestiltskin stand out from any actual politician.

      • Hogan

        Strictly speaking, Andrew Johnson was never a presidential nominee.

        • BartletForGallifrey

          Dammit. Thanks. Presidential or vice presidential nominee still works, offhand.

      • Denverite

        I mean, technically, Strom Thurmound and George Wallace were nominated by political parties.

        • BartletForGallifrey

          I’m aware of that.

          • q-tip

            I think 2016 Strom would be better than Trump (or even 1940-whatever Strom time-traveled here, if we need a live body).

            But Strom elected in … okay, looked it up, 1948 (damn, that motherfucker lived to 100? Oh, riiight, that was his 100th birthday party Trent Lott spoke at and spilled the beans) – might’ve derailed the timeline pretty badly?

            But someone from Gallifrey can probably mumble something about “fixed points in time” ;)

            PS: if we’re including minor parties, I’m 99% sure there is SOMEONE worse than Trump back there.

            ETA: like any of the theocrats from the USA Constitution Party or whatever they call themselves now.

            • Hogan

              People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually — from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint — it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly… timey-wimey… stuff.

              • mds

                Started well, that comment.

            • BartletForGallifrey

              Are we saying we pick him up and move him to 2016? I’m very confused, but in general, no, I’d still take Strom Fucking Thurmond over the current PPEOTUS.

              Yeah, okay, first and second tier parties.

              But we’re literally at the point where “Would not tweet us into a war with China” and “Would not appoint random people off the street to head cabinet departments” are points in someone’s favor.

            • Just_Dropping_By

              A bit of alternate history trivia: Thurmond was President Pro Tempore of the Senate as of January 20, 2001, but did not attend the presidential inauguration of George W. Bush, while Cheney (VP) and Hastert (Speaker of the House) did. If the inauguration was the subject of a terrorist attack/natural disaster/etc. and Bush, Cheney, and Hastert were killed or incapacitated, a 98 year-old Thurmond would have become President….

        • efgoldman

          technically, Strom Thurmound and George Wallace were nominated by political parties.

          And both knew very well how the nuts and bolts of government worked.

          • BartletForGallifrey

            Which at this juncture I view as a good thing, if the alternative is…this.

  • Crusty

    Remember that Matt Lauer forum/showcase/thing where the first question or something like hi, why aren’t you in jail? And then Lauer said something dopey like as short as possible please, before every answer?

    This comment brought to you by blood pressure medication.

    • Taylor

      The backstory was that Lauer was told to do that by someone senior at NBC, who then hung him out the dry when even the journalistic establishment could not stomach his outrageous partisanship (and boy, that is saying something).

      I am convinced that, by the time of the next “election,” which will follow Putin rules, that kind of outrageous behavior will be accepted and expected for our “journalistic” establishment.

      Meanwhile real journalists in Russia think that American journalists are a joke.

    • Scott Lemieux

      And then remember when Lauer just let Trump lie his ass off about opposing the Iraq War?

      But, as Dilan says, nature is just acting through Matt Lauer, and he and his superiors simply lack the capacity to make different choices.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        “nature is just acting through Matt Lauer”?

        (blinks)

        something I’m glad to have missed, that

  • Rob in CT
    • Moondog von Superman

      No matter how pointlessly malevolent (Stein) or extremely malevolent (Comey), if it can’t be proved that they singlehandedly gave the election to Trump, then they are completely off the hook.

      • Scott Lemieux

        And perhaps Rob hasn’t actually been reading the posts, but nobody here is asserting that Stein threw the election to Trump — the evidence just doesn’t support it. (You can make the case, but has to involve Stein’s contributions to the Both Sides Do It tenor of coverage. I doubt she made much difference there, myself.)

        The evidence that Comey threw the election, conversely, is about as good as any such evidence can get, and the arguments to the contrary are mostly just hand-waving and selective nihilism.

    • Aaron Morrow

      Philadelphia turnout only increased 2.4%, from 690,327 votes in 2012 to 706,562 votes in 2016. In comparison, turnout increased nationally by 5.4% and in Pennsylvania by 6.3%.

      I have no idea how Wasserman or the 538 crew missed that. Even if that’s not the topic of the piece, no analyst should present growth as being “good” without a point of comparison. That’s madness.

  • Donald Trump is, by an enormous margin, the least-qualified candidate to ever receive a major party nomination for president.

    Which underscores the importance of political parties in selecting and nominating candidates who are actually qualified to run the country. When the candidates are selected, then it comes down to partisan politics. But before that, each party needs to select a candidate that is, indeed, qualified to manage the office.

    • Bitter Scribe

      Yeah, that deep bench worked like a charm, didn’t it?

      • That merely demonstrated the disastrously poor job of the Republican Party in actually selecting competent candidates. On the Dem side, either candidate would have been qualified to step into the Oval Office, regardless of their individual politics.

        • q-tip

          ANY OF THE FOUR FIVE, though I hate to throw bones to Chaffee and Webb. (I am assuming LaRouche didn’t run this year, as I’m fairly sure he’s dead? Okay, just checked, NOT DEAD YET.)

          • efgoldman

            just checked, NOT DEAD YET

            Feeling much better!

            • q-tip

              If he’s keeping up on the news, the defeat of the Nazi Democrats is, indeed, probably making him feel better.

              (Remember when LaRouche types were jokes, not a core constituency?)

  • Joe Bob the III

    The one item that crystallizes this whole issue for me is an article that appeared on the front page of the NYT about apparent conflicts of interest between Clinton as SoS and the Clinton Foundation. The gist of it is that some Clinton Foundation donors lobbied Huma Abedin for diplomatic passports. They were denied.

    There you go. Somebody asked for a favor. Didn’t get it. Front page of the New York Times.

    Meanwhile, in only the past four weeks no fewer than five specific instances have been identified where Trump’s business interests have mixed with his role as President-elect: in the Philippines, India, Argentina, Scotland, and the Old Post Office hotel in DC. Trump is poised to be in direct violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution from the moment he is inaugurated and I can’t recall this being mentioned anywhere in the media prior to the election.

    The “issues” that Clinton was continuously flogged with were trivial, theoretical, or wholly imaginary. Meanwhile, Trump’s problems were real, serious and represented the most literal form of public corruption: direct self-enrichment.

    • Bitter Scribe

      Don’t forget Taiwan.

    • And in which we are asked to accept this as the new norm.

    • Scott Lemieux

      The one item that crystallizes this whole issue for me is an article that appeared on the front page of the NYT about apparent conflicts of interest between Clinton as SoS and the Clinton Foundation. The gist of it is that some Clinton Foundation donors lobbied Huma Abedin for diplomatic passports. They were denied.

      There you go. Somebody asked for a favor. Didn’t get it. Front page of the New York Times.

      If only the editors of the New York Times were possessed of free will, this could have been averted.

  • Pete

    Well, the false equivalence between Clinton and Trump is one issue, but as noted much of the most slanted coverage of HRC came during the primaries.

    In my view — bottom line is that the left eats their own (I can hear the protests now that HRC is not even left). So many progressives and those ideologically farther left seem so very interested in promoting and standing for ideal, and an ideal world, that they seem incapable of seeing and responding to “pretty damn good” or “not so bad” or “not nearly as bad as the alternatives.” We call (or used to call) right-wingers with those traits wingnuts.

    • Moondog von Superman

      Could be the left has its own very serious fake news problem, and Karl Rove and his ilk are involved, along with of course Russia.

      • XTPD

        Regarding the latter point: Exaggerated anti-anti-Russian sentiment seems to come from a type of Cold War-era leftism,which somewhere down the line mutated into believing the exact opposite of the consensus on Russia (noted neocon shill Andrew O’Hehir detailed this beautifully two years ago). To that effect RT has actively courted left-of-center commentators, and its coverage of American affairs is harshly critical in ways that appeal to those biases, albeit in a “and you are lynching negroes” type of way. It’s also worth noting that I’ve frequently seen Stephen Cohen, Patrick Lawrence Smith, and several other such critics being plugged on liberal blogs.*

        *Walt and Mearsheimer (and [maybe?] Goldstein) are some of the (rather few) widely-cited critics whose work can be considered widely reliable, and to that effect Mearsheimer has detailed how Western foreign-policy failures helped lead to the situation in Ukraine. That said, my opinion is that his proposed solution, AFAICT, largely neglects historically-rooted opposition to Russian influence, which does not seem to be a recipe for long-term stability (of course, none of this is advocating for American action in this particular sphere).

      • Bufflars

        Yeah, during the election I remember peeking in on a Crooked Timber Trump post and the number of right wing Hillary tropes being repeateded by the leftist commenters there was unbelievable.

    • So many progressives and those ideologically farther left seem so very interested in promoting and standing for ideal, and an ideal world, that they seem incapable of seeing and responding to “pretty damn good” or “not so bad” or “not nearly as bad as the alternatives.”

      Except for that fact that, at the end of the day, they did stand for the “not nearly as bad as the alternative” candidate. But it doesn’t help when your base is concentrated in the cities and the coastal states, and you are trying to win in a system which is biased in favor of rural America.

    • XTPD

      A variant that pops up here occasionally is to admit she’s “not nearly as bad as the alternatives”…and then actively undermining that point’s persuasive value by insisting she’s still a neolibrul bloodthirsty $hillbot who’s literally the WORST DEMOCRAT EVAH, and that anyone who doesn’t hate her as much as the speaker is only doing so because they OD’ed on DNC Kool Flavor-Aid.

  • Kevin Hayden

    A few items of note in the article:

    1) Looking at Figure 3, the shift in the press to a negative tone began accelerating in 1988, with two clear peaks: 2000 and 2016, the two closest races.

    2) In the final 4 sets of numbers, from 10/16 and after Figures 8 and 12 indicate an undeniable negative impact of the 10/28 Comey letter (in the last two numbers especially). (See also Figure 17)

    3) Not surprisingly in the comparison of news outlets, Fox was worst, but I was also surprised to see WaPo perform so poorly. And it was interesting that the LA Times outperformed most others. (Figures 9 and 13)

    4) The incapacity of most of the media to provide more in-depth policy analysis is an obvious fail. Sure, controversy and scandal is a sales booster but there’s a distinct lack of originality evident that indicates the media just doesn’t give a damn and has no intention of addressing. Even though it hurts their credibility and the entire institution of the Fourth Estate.

    Were I to try and correct it, I’d put together a Policy-review Focus group that would include (a) academics in several fields (foreign policy, economics, healthcare, etc) capable of more objective analysis of issues – none of whom from Left/Right/Libertarian think tanks, (b) independent voters representing at least 5 regions of the country to add their questions and impressions to the analysis, since independents often swing elections anymore (and be sure those independents include some from urban and rural areas as this election clearly demonstrated there’s a huge difference there), and (c) discuss each issue separately, one per Sunday, from July 1st to the Sunday before Election Day. That’s 19 reports, which means the 6 to to 9 issues that matter most to voters get analyzed 2 or 3 times each per general election period.

    They’d still get to cover the controversies and horserace stuff, but at least there’d be a little better issues coverage than the public gets now.

    • I guess you have to ask yourself if the MSM had indeed engaged in reporting that was diligent and fair, would it have made a difference to the great red swath of the Elector College whose primary source of news is hate radio, the Drudge Report, and Breitbart News?

      • Taylor

        Granted that the White Supremacist vote is unreachable, you have to wonder if turnout would have been better on the other side had people not been convinced that Clinton was second only to Nixon in her corruption.

        I knew plenty of people in my liberal NE enclave who did not want to vote for Clinton because they did not trust her. Nothing specific, just a sense that they had, that they could provide no single specific instance to explain. It’s a mystery for sure, how could they have reached that state of mind.

        • It’s a mystery for sure, how could they have reached that state of mind.

          30 years of conservative messaging, plus a habit by Clinton of stepping on rakes.

        • Davis X. Machina

          Mystery? Or just too many X chromosomes?

  • Sebastian_h

    We are supposed to avoid fake news, and this analysis is the equivalent of planting evidence because you know someone is guilty.

    This was less than a year ago. We shouldn’t rewrite it already. Through most of the primary season Trump was treated like the joke we all wish that he was. You can see it in coverage HERE on this blog. It isn’t that long ago there were debates about whether or not Democrats should vote in the Republican primary to get Trump nominated so Clinton could face the weakest opponent.

    As soon as Trump was nominated and the press started to take him seriously, the press ran far more negative stories regarding Trump than Clinton. Their own statistics show it.

    As soon as the press realized Trump wasn’t just another vanity candidate the negative stories flowed. Which was appropriate.

    There are all sorts of institutional reasons why media didn’t respond in better ways. But this is just lying with statistics and therefore not very likely to get us any closer to understanding what to do about it.

    • Aaron Morrow

      You can see it in coverage HERE on this blog

      This Shorenstein Center study is based on an analysis of news reports by ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, the Los Angeles Times, NBC, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

      • Sebastian_h

        Yes and the fact that they choose their time frame to include the period where Trump was thought to be a joke candidate is what makes it misleading.

        If you want to argue that they should have figured it out earlier, that is a different question.

    • McAllen

      Even looking at just the General Election, Trump got 77% negative coverage and Clinton got 64%. Trump is not merely 13% worse than Clinton. Trumps 77% includes dozens of scandals that should have been disqualifying, while Clinton’s 64% is based on horseshit and included critical negative coverage in the final week of the campaign.

      • Sebastian_h

        That’s at least a legitimate way of framing it. So why frame it the clearly fake news way?

        The danger in framing it the fake news way is that you can’t get a clear look at the problem.

        The problem was that nearly every major media outfit, including dozens of press outlets that have endorsed Republicans for my whole life, went strongly against Trump and his campaign still had life.

        There are a couple of possible answers for this (and probably a bunch I can’t think of)

        Things like–press coverage isn’t as important as we thought; and/or Trump exhibits master-level ability at playing the weaknesses and strengths of the media (if so we might want to figure out exactly how so we can counter it), and/or Clinton was an unusually weak candidate, and/or there is something strange going on with respect to institutional power that we might want to figure out, and/or there is a lot of untapped anger at the system which we might want to learn to tap, and/or we need to deal with lies better.

        Whatever the answer, it will be foolishly obscured by ‘studies’ like this which use transparently silly time frames. It is like the climate deniers who always start their charts during El Nino years.

  • Jameson Quinn

    Scott, check your email.

  • CrunchyFrog

    I would quite literally prefer a random person as POTUS to Donald Trump, and that’s true even if the random selection pool included infants, lunatics, and Jill Stein.

    But you repeat yourself.

    • Sebastian_h

      Ha. And yes, I think picking by lot at this point would be an improvement.

  • ASV

    Any accounting of the amount of positive and negative coverage Trump received during the campaign that doesn’t include the hours and hours of uninterrupted live rally broadcasts is a false accounting.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      Except that requires determining whether the live rally broadcasts qualify as “positive” or “negative.” A lot of the discussion about the coverage at the time it was happening was to the effect that it was letting Trump hang himself with a rope of his own making. It’s only after the fact that people are suddenly treating it as though it was a good thing for Trump. If he’d lost, people would be saying that voters disliked him the more that they heard him.

      • Hogan

        We’d be in a better position to judge that if we’d gotten the same coverage of Clinton rallies. Getting your message through unfiltered is usually thought to be an advantage.

  • random

    I would quite literally prefer a random person as POTUS to Donald Trump

    I appreciate it!

  • BoredJD

    The way I think of it in retrospect is – I’m the media. I have 1000 negative stories I can write about the candidates over the course of the election, and I have to distribute them based on the seriousness of the scandal (if true) and the likelihood that the scandal is a scandal. If you think about it like that, none of Hillary’s “scandals” crack the top 20. I’d devote less than 5% of my stories to them.

    But obviously, that’s not how the press thought of things in real time, when every Trump scandal was quickly succeeded by a new one and inevitably following by EMAILZ!!!! or GOLDMAN SACHS!!!! or QUESTIONS ABOUND.

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