Virtually every mainstream media actor predicted a clear and decisive defeat of Donald J. Trump – throughout 2020, as if the 2016 election had been a collective illusion. Few media were willing to proclaim the obvious – that the elections were based on flawed data and polling methods – because of their outrageous bias against the president.
While the election results remain unclear, it is increasingly recognized that pollsters and media forecasters have once again strayed far from the mark and damaged their credibility with most Americans to such an extent that there is no going back. The question now is whether there will be accountability.
In short, the day of reckoning by the media is upon us. This election will serve as a turning point when the media finally make way for a new frontier. The Wild West of new media is upon us.
Historically, the lack of alternative media has made it difficult for people to obtain information and to recognize bias and legitimacy. In the past, it was not so necessary to detect bias because the media usually provided clear sources – not the anonymous ones that are rampant today – and applied a relatively objective quality filter. This is no longer the case today.
Two forces have emerged that are changing the media landscape.
The first is self-inflicted: the mainstream media’s own censorship and bias.
Social media companies have censored everyone, from thought leaders like Dennis Prager to Christian philanthropists like Tim Tebow to the President of the United States and most recently Maria Bartiromo, one of the most respected journalists in the industry. And yet they do not censor statements that actually incite violence, such as the calls of the Iranian Ayatollah Khamenei for genocide against the Israeli people.
The mainstream media have routinely followed this example. Even the non-partisan (but what does “non-partisan” even mean anymore?) Pew Center published a study that found that 62 percent of the coverage of President Trump was negative, while only 20 percent was negative for President Obama (and 28 percent for both Presidents Bush and Clinton). Surprisingly, only 5 percent of coverage was positive for Trump, despite his administration’s historic successes in unemployment and the Middle East peace accords.
For more than two years, the mainstream media had hyperfocused Americans on an investigation into Russian collusion triggered by “evidence” that had been exposed and should not have been considered legitimate in the first place. Millions of taxpayers’ money and countless hours were spent on a flawed investigation that distracted from real, substantive news, issues and ideas for the future.
But the straw that broke the camel’s back was the media’s total censorship of last month’s Hunter Biden scandal. With the exception of Fox News, the mainstream news channels almost completely covered up one of the biggest “October surprises” in political history.
Even though this may not be their intention, mainstream media is behaving as if the public is stupid. Why else would they publish stories that blame Trump for the worst unemployment figures in American history? Do they think the public is not aware that we are in a pandemic?
The second force comes from outside: technological change.
The Pew Center estimates that 96 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 own a smartphone. That’s 92 percent between the ages of 30 and 49. Any one of us can download content from anywhere, anytime. There are also many more channels for accessing content.
Revolutionary media models such as Substack are coming on the scene, while traditional media continue to decline. In contrast to modern mainstream distribution channels, which demand a certain degree of homogeneity – not only implicitly, but sometimes explicitly – from their employees, platforms like Substack give content producers more power and give them a greater incentive to attract readers. This trend will accelerate after the election, as more and more journalists (and even media founders) realize that the current level of editorial homogeneity is unsustainable.
In addition, new social media actors such as Parler are enjoying growing popularity relative to the accusations of anti-conservative media bias and censorship levelled against social media giants like Twitter and Facebook. Maria Bartiromo on the occasion