Politico Continues to Display its Disconnect with Average American Voters
In a recent video by Prager University, journalist Sharyl Attkisson discussed all of the major sins being regularly committed by the mainstream media today, which have led to such a widespread distrust of the media among American voters. Among them were the sins of mixing personal editorializing in with news reports, as well as deliberately leaving out any positive facts about a political opponent in order to portray them more negatively. Over the last couple weeks, no outlet has better personified most of these acts of journalistic malpractice than Politico.
This comes out of a recent exposé-type article that Politico put out on November 8 - the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s election. The article focused on a small steel mining town in Pennsylvania called Johnstown. The title of the article says enough: “Johnstown Never Believed Trump Would Help. They Still Love Him Anyway.”
Interviewing numerous Johnstown residents who still passionately support the President one year later, the articles goes on and on about how - allegedly - economic recovery has not come to the town despite his promises. The author, Michael Kruse, talks about some factories that had shut down long ago and have not come back, among other economic problems that happened before Trump came along. He also touches upon the opioid crisis’ effects on the town. At one point, he actively tries to persuade a single resident to oppose Trump by falsely claiming that Trump has gone golfing more often than Obama did.
But through it all, Kruse portrays a small town of older, mostly white people who maintain unwavering support for President Trump even if nothing gets fixed in their small town - either shifting the blame to Congress, or for seeing the President himself as a fighting figure whose mere occupation of the Oval Office is a symbol of resistance against the political status quo.
But most disparagingly of all, Kruse closes his article by asking some of the town’s residents about their thoughts on certain social issues, from abortion to the NFL protests against the American flag and national anthem. The article ends on a sudden note, focusing on the latter; interviewing an older couple, the wife simply states that she considers most of the NFL players to be “n***ers for life,” a sentiment her husband agrees with.
And then the article ends. The obvious implication, of course, is that Kruse is using this poignant final statement to follow along with the mainstream media’s narrative that most Trump supporters are just racists, on top of the article’s broader claim that the President has done little or nothing for those Rust Belt voters who won him the White House.
After one week, the residents of Johnstown fought back with a response piece. Significantly shorter than the original article, but sticking to the main point, the piece is signed by ten leading residents of the town, who firmly dispute the information reported in the article. Among other things, Kruse chose to focus on two diners that have shut down while ignoring two more, “just a couple blocks down the street,” that are being renovated and are soon to open. A massive pile of scrap metal that Kruse dismissed as a “leftover heap of slag” was actually in the process of being removed for a “commercial re-mining operation” that will restore “hundreds of acres of land” in Johnstown.
In regards to the implied racism, Kruse focused entirely on the older couple at the end of his piece, while conveniently ignoring the fact that on the day before Trump’s election, two African-Americans were elected to the city council as the top two vote-getters in the overall election.
The response piece asserts that Kruse was determined to single out those who would compliment a preconceived narrative that “he created before arriving.” Not only did Kruse deceptively highlight Johnstown in particular for ills that plague numerous Rust Belt communities, but by doing so, the response’s authors assert, “he cast a shadow on the good things that are happening here.”
The response closes out with a similarly poignant warning shot directly at Kruse himself, saying that “We assume that the reporter reached his goal for the story,” even if it meant smearing an entire community and covering up its successes in the one year since Trump’s historic victory. The response is signed by leaders of Johnstown, including Mayor Frank Janakovic and NAACP leader Alan Cashaw.
This only further proves the mainstream media’s - and especially Politico’s - maintainence of what White House adviser Stephen Miller famously called a “cosmopolitan bias.” The media themselves are a group of elites, many of them rather wealthy and living in bigger cities, rarely interacting with the kind of “middle America” citizens whose support for Trump propelled him to the White House last November.
Back then, it was the media’s mere dismissal of this group - focusing instead on the coastal cities where many of the Democratic Party’s leaders come from - that led to the stunning upset. But now, the media is indeed fully aware of this group - and is instead choosing to deliberately misrepresent them rather than actually understand them. Their ignorance and isolation cost them 2016, and their stubbornness and denials will cost them 2020 and beyond.
One last note, somewhat similar to this story: This ever-widening media disconnect with the people just may result in another shock (to the media at least) in Alabama in one month. As we know, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, former Judge Roy Moore, has been hit with numerous unsubstantiated allegations of sexual assault. Despite the Judge’s determination to fight back and the so-far unproven nature of the claims, the media is already rushing to declare that he will lose on December 12th to Democrat Doug Jones, as more mainstream political figures - such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell - call on Moore to withdraw from the race.
Politico has been piling on to this narrative that Moore is about to cost the Republican Party a deep-red state: From an article detailing Jones’ “path to victory” (as if directly giving Jones advice on how to win), to a poll triumphantly declaring that “a majority” of voters want Moore to drop out of the race.
The only problem with the latter? It’s a national poll, not a statewide poll.
Once again, the mainstream media is looking at everything through their particular lens of instantly nationalizing every issue and seeking consensus amongst themselves to reaffirm their beliefs. They continue to ignore the average American at the lowest levels, and are thus shocked when the Republican still manages to win - such as the special election for the House of Representatives in Georgia earlier this year.
Whether it’s a victory by Judge Moore next month, or reelection for President Trump in three years, media outlets like Politico will most likely continue to be surprised - and will never understand why. And all the while, American trust in the media will continue to decline.