The media is desperately trying to keep the 2016 election interesting
The revelation that Anthony Weiner sent some more lewd texts is nothing surprising. But the consensus that this is somehow horrendous for Hillary Clinton’s campaign certainly is.
Following the news, the New York Times published a front-page piece titled “Weiner’s Texts Cast a New Cloud Over Clinton Campaign.”
Meanwhile, Maggie Haberman, a top Times political reporter, compared the Weiner story to attacks on Donald Trump’s new campaign CEO, Steve Bannon.
Forget that Bannon is at the forefront of Trump’s campaign. Forget that Anthony Weiner has no association with Clinton’s campaign. Forget, even, that Bannon has been tied to domestic abuse while Weiner just sent some creepy texts.
This story is news. It plays great on social media. But it is nothing close to a story about Hillary Clinton.
The problem is that this is beginning to become a trend. Last week, the Associated Press published a major story suggesting Clinton favored donors to the Clinton Foundation while she served as Secretary of State. Upon closer examination, it turns out the story is bogus and AP mislead its readers into thinking it had found something when it really hadn’t. But again, it made rounds on social media and injected new fire into the race.
The same thing is going on with the constant re-litigating of Clinton’s emails, the subject of a years-long investigation that turned up no evidence of criminal activity. The idea that her emails are still an issue that merits conversation is absurd, but that hasn’t stopped the constant talk of a disastrous week for Clinton.
In the latest bit, journalists are hitting Clinton for her refusal to allow reporters on her plane (Trump does the same thing). Given all this hogwash, it’s not hard to understand why.
I’m the last guy to blame everything on “the media,” a diverse group of organizations that are admittedly the easiest targets out there. But let’s be honest: this race is on the verge of losing its steam. Polls have been hovering around a Clinton landslide for a while now. The Olympics took our eyes off the campaign for the first time in months. The soap opera is slowly fading away.
News organizations know the importance of this race to their ongoing success. Trump was the shot in the arm that CNN, MSNBC, etc. needed, and there’s an unquestionable incentive to keep this race interesting. You simply cannot deny that, when handed a story that can even remotely be spun into a Clinton-is-in-trouble story, there has to be a major temptation to take the bait.
So these stories probably aren’t going anywhere. The end of the 2016 race is a dark day for the current media landscape — so expect this election to be kept alive as long as logically possible, if not longer.