In 2004, the New York Times issued a half-hearted apology for their previous coverage on the Iraq War, in which the publication helped manufacture consent for the war that was predicated on false information. “In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged,” wrote the Times’ Editors. The Washington Post and several other mainstream media outlets also served as aggressive propagandists in favor of the Iraq War. Given similar disproportionately biased coverage from mainstream media propped up Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and elevated a highly unfavorable, weak general election opponent, the same accountability and responsibility needs to be exercised by mainstream media for giving the country Donald Trump in its desperate efforts to help Hillary Clinton win.
The New York Times and nearly every major news publication in the country formally endorsed Hillary Clinton during the Democratic Primaries and the general election. Wikileaks revealed several dozen reporters from mainstream media outlets coordinated with the Clinton Campaign and attended private parties with their campaign staff. Hillary Clinton received a disproportionate amount of support from mainstream media in the primaries and general election, yet pro-Clinton journalists continue blaming Clinton’s opponents for her defeat instead of assuming responsibility for coalescing around a highly unfavorable, flawed candidate.
Though there was little to no evidence to support the Bernie Bros smear campaign, mainstream media outlets propagated this myth because it boosted Hillary Clinton, which pitched many of these stories directly. Though Sanders’ support was divided more on age than it ever was across race and gender, pro-Clinton journalists throughout mainstream media reported as fact that Bernie Sanders supporters were all white males.
Sanders’ policies were also scrutinized beyond constructive criticism. The Washington Post Editorial Board called Sanders’ campaign “fiction-filled,” just days before the Iowa Caucuses. The New York Daily News ran editorials before the New York Democratic Primary blaming Bernie Sanders for the Sandy Hook shooting. The New York Times Public Editor explained in September 2015 regarding the coverage of Bernie Sanders by the Times, “the tone of some stories is regrettably dismissive, even mocking at times. Some of that is focused on the candidate’s age, appearance, and style, rather than what he has to say.”
In contrast to delegitimizing Bernie Sanders’ Campaign in favor of Hillary Clinton, who also benefited from favoritism from the DNC and Democratic Party leadership stacked in support of Clinton, the same mainstream media outlets who overtly favored Hillary Clinton in their coverage obsessed over Donald Trump. Trump received nearly $2 billion in free media coverage, nearly 6 times more than Bernie Sanders. Though most of this coverage was negative, its goal to elevate an unfavorable, weak general election opponent for Hillary Clinton to face, and subsequently rally opposition against backfired. Mainstream media’s coverage of Trump fueled resentment toward the establishment, of which corporate owned mainstream media has devolved into an establishment arm used to protect the power of the top 1% rather than challenge it.
Amid the efforts from mainstream media to manufacture outrage against Donald Trump, they have effectively desensitized millions of Americans from valid and essential criticisms of his candidacy. The mainstream media praised Hillary Clinton as “the most qualified” candidate to ever run in history while it shoved outrage over Donald Trump down the throats of Americans. Rather than clean up the mess they made, Clinton journalists are blaming Trump’s victory on “fake news” and “bad reporting” that was too harsh on Hillary Clinton rather than hold themselves accountable for praising Hillary Clinton’s embrace of the elitist status quo they themselves represent.
Even after Clinton’s election loss, her continued silence on important issues is ignored by Clinton journalists, who instead focus on stories about selfies other people have taken in chance encounters with Clinton. We are now posed with the dangers of a Donald Trump presidency, yet Clinton has abandoned the millions of people who casted votes for her in the general election in favor of recoiling to her elitist comfort zone, where giving awards to pop artists like Katy Perry and hosting thank-you parties for millionaire donors supersedes fighting for progressive values. But in the eyes of mainstream media, Clinton and her brand of establishment neo-liberal politics remain perfect.