We Must Demand Pundit Accountability

We’ve just witnessed one of the most systematic, broad-based, universal failures of journalism/commentary in world history. That sounds hyperbolic, but it’s not: the American media’s analysis of the Donald Trump rise to power was catastrophically wrong, at every turn, from start to finish.

In the coming days and weeks, I’m going to document these failures, so as to preserve them for posterity. It’s not simply to be vindictive, or to embarrass people who got things incorrect. We all make mistakes. But it’s crucial to acknowledge our errors and account for them. And when you have such flagrant system-wide error as is evident in the case of Trump, some kind of dramatic reordering is needed.

So the purpose of this short post is to show my cards: I think I’ve been roughly correct in much of what I forecast about the 2016 race. Where I erred, I’ll admit it.

For starters, I thought Ted Cruz was the clear front-runner for the GOP nomination before Trump entered the race. Though this wasn’t borne out, I was among the few who accurately predicted that Cruz would be a viable electoral force. He ended up being the runner-up for the nomination, which not many pundits predicted. (Many didn’t even think he would run, but I knew he would since the 2013 government shutdown.)


I’m going to skip ahead a bit now to the general election. Lots of people said the debates would be game-changers. Hillary supposedly “won” all the debates, and this was taken by pundits as a sure sign that she was destined for victory. Remember?

Remember when everyone said the “Access Hollywood” tape would sink Trump?

Remember when Democratic partisans propagated the lie that Bernie Sanders supporters had united in lockstep behind Hillary?

Remember when it was denied wholesale that any significant portion of Bernie supporters would back Trump?

Excerpt from Daily Beast piece

Remember when it was denied that the US media’s obliviousness with regard to Trump was analogous to the UK media’s with regard to Brexit?

Excerpt from Daily Beast piece

Remember when people denied that the LA Times poll had any credibility?

Remember when people denied that Hillary’s “deplorables” sneer damaged her standing with working class whites?

Excerpt from VICE piece

Remember when it was denied that black voters would likely abandon Hillary in sizable numbers?

Remember when it was denied that Hillary was under FBI criminal investigation, and that this fact could hurt her in the general election?

And finally, remember when people insisted that it was ludicrous to posit that Trump’s odds of victory were higher than popularly assumed?

So that’s just a cursory selection. I’m happy to compare it with others’ track records. I look forward to going back and retrieving evidence of pundit failure.