Home / General / Area Journalist Pretends Not to Understand That Events Have Multiple Causes Because it Would Make His Paper Look Bad

Area Journalist Pretends Not to Understand That Events Have Multiple Causes Because it Would Make His Paper Look Bad



Hillary Clinton said yesterday that “I take absolute personal responsibility. I was the candidate, I was the person who was on the ballot. I am very aware of the challenges, the problems, the shortfalls that we had.” Glenn Thrush has an…interesting interpretation of these remarks:

How can you say that Clinton “blames everyone but [her]self” when she said she takes “absolute personal responsibility”? Because she also said that had the election been held on October 27, she would have won. And while there’s no way of proving this claim with absolute certainty, the evidence backing her claim is strong, certainly much stronger than speculating about “messaging” or other campaign tactics. But, to Thrush, talking about messaging is acceptable but discussing the impact of the Comey letter isn’t:

To state the obvious, there is no contradiction here. It is entirely possible to simultaneously believe that 1)the Clinton campaign made numerous mistakes and 2)Comey’s letter was both indefensible and had a major impact on the race and 3)the media’s coverage of Clinton’s email server was grossly disproportionate and had a major impact on the race. If the Comey letter changed the outcome of the election, this doesn’t mean that Clinton isn’t also responsible for her loss, and vice versa.

And outside of the context of elections, presumably everyone understands this point. If the Falcons had just taken the three points and 78 seconds of clock after the Jones catch in the 4th quarter, they almost certainly win the Super Bowl. But it’s also true that while Atlanta’s abysmal clock management and leaving three points on the table gave the Patriots an opportunity, they had to be nearly perfect to take advantage of the opportunity. To say that Quinn and Shanahan screwed up isn’t to deny the credit that Brady, Hightower, White, Edelman, Belichick et al. are merited for pulling off a miraculous comeback. This is not a complicated point, but when discussing elections people pretend not to understand it because it interferes with some agenda they have.

And in the case of Thrush and the other journalists demanding that Clinton (falsely) take unilateral responsibility for the outcome of the election, the agenda is obvious. If you say that the Comey letter affected the race you’re saying that coverage of the letter (and the media’s obsessive focus on the EMAILS! pseudo-scandal more broadly) affected the race, and God forbid the media be held accountable for anything. And it’s also an obvious tell that the media’s priorities in campaign coverage were in fact indefensible. You don’t preemptively demand that people not discuss your good decisions.

…I’ll have more about this later, but Silver’s piece about the Comey letter and the media is essential reading.

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