Russia, Fake News, Alt-Right: Why the Media Obsession?

In the wake of Hillary Clinton’s surprisingly easy defeat last month, the mainstream media, from the old world Associated Press, New York Times and Washington Post, to the new world CNN, MSNBC and Huffington Post, have launched investigations news articles into reasons why Clinton was defeated so handily.

In the immediate aftermath, the culprit was identified as fake news, or news that is shared globally through social media sites like facebook, twitter and the like. The notion is without fact checking, an individual can share an article with a click of a button, and his or her friends in their social media circle will have instant access to that false article, which when shared again, then again, leads to staggering amounts of disinformation filtering through the masses. The media cited articles such as the Pope endorses Donald Trump, FBI Agent Investigating Hillary Clinton Murdered and other phony articles as examples.

A week or two later the appointment of Stephen Bannon, formerly of Breitbart Media, to the White House, the media became fascinated with the alt-right. As the media tells it, this shadowy Internet organization is fascinated with conspiracy theories, xenophobia, racism and bigotry. In Bannon’s appointment, the media had located the source of Donald Trump’s repeated outlandish comments on the campaign trail. The media’s fascination with the alt-right continues, highlighting the collective perceived disappointment as President-elect Trump Cabinet appointments.

Most recently, the CIA’s announcement that Russia had actively been involved in the election has sparked new outrage among the media. Demanding Republican Congressional investigations, the theory goes that Russia’s presence and continued meddling, mainly through WikiLeaks and leaking of DNC/Clinton campaign emails highlighted the disdain that Russia holds for Clinton, and the ties between Trump and Russia must have inevitably lead to Clinton’s defeat.

Three obsessions: fake news, the alt-right movement, and now Russia. Why does the media continue obsessing?

Because it cannot fathom that Hillary Clinton could have lost any other way.

Every post-mortem of Hillary’s campaign included FBI Director James Comey’s email a week and a half before Election Day that additional emails relevant to the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server had been found. Every. Single. One. Clinton’s campaign themselves cited the announcement in their post-election call with donors.

Then, in the immediate aftermath, the media shared stats in news articles decrying fake news, citing how many times an article about the Pope endorsing Donald Trump (shared over ONE MILLION TIMES on facebook!). The clear read-between-the-lines theory? One million people are so stupid, they were going to vote for Hillary, but then they read this clearly false news story and switched their vote.

Bannon is appointed to the White House, and suddenly it’s clear: the people who voted for Trump bought into the alt-right conspiracy! Of course they voted for a racist, xenophobic bigot, because it’s been shared so many times in social media amongst themselves, they have no other way of thinking!

Russia, known to have disdain for Hillary Clinton, MUST have hacked election computers in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin! There’s no other explanation for how Hillary Clinton could have lost her ‘blue wall’ of states that have reliably voted Democrat in recent past elections.

Everything is an excuse. Every obsession and fascination the media latches onto is just one more reason: there is no chance Hillary Clinton lost this election. At least, not legitimately. To them, there is no way, no how, Hillary Clinton cannot have lost to a candidate as historically out-fundraised, out-campaign officed, out-staffed, out-endorsed, as Donald J. Trump.

Except one (blatant) thing: Hillary Clinton was a historically bad candidate.

We’re talking epically bad. A candidate for president who was an instant ‘no’ vote to tens of millions of Americans. A candidate who derided classified information laws, flaunting it in the face of Americans, alienating active-duty and retired military members. A candidate who told Wall Street executives that any sane candidate would have a public stance on an issue and a private stance, because the public is too stupid to know the difference. A candidate who called 60 million Americans ‘deplorable’, as if 60 million Americans are comprehensively all racist, sexist and bigoted. A candidate who had been in Washington for more than 30 years, who had a pay-for-play scheme set up in her husband and former president’s name. A campaign who openly conspired with the media and was leaked debate questions prior to the debate.

In a world where all of September and definitely all of October, most Republicans lamented, ‘if we had put up anyone else, we’d be winning this election in a landslide’, a week later Hillary loses and loses big, and now, the shoe is on the other foot. Anyone else, and they beat Trump. Democrats were so blind, so loyal, so relentless in facilitating Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, her faults, her scandals, her emails, those were all in their collective blind spots. Now, they acknowledged it, but even that acknowledgement was flippant. Hilariously, the argument was well, her scandals are so well known, she’s handled and answered everything, there is nothing new they can put on her.

Well, that was true. Nothing new came out during the campaign. Hillary lost on her merits, lost the campaign completely on her own. This wasn’t a vast facebook and twitter conspiracy of shared and networked fake news articles electing her. This wasn’t an alt-right conspiracy, and this wasn’t Russia hacking election results, or changing the inevitable outcome.

Hillary lost. She took her negatives for granted, believing that putting them up against another historically bad candidate, she wouldn’t look quite as bad. Sure, they don’t like her, but they’ll hold their noses and vote for her before they voted for a misogynist. She didn’t need to campaign in Wisconsin, because why would she? She didn’t need significantly more resources in Pennsylvania, when she was on the verge of winning states like North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia. Why spend more money in Michigan, when Utah and Texas are in play?

Of course some people may have voted for Trump because the Pope endorsed him. Some people may have supported Trump because Clinton had an FBI agent killed. Some people may have voted Trump because they are xenophobic, racist, and bigoted. Some people may have voted for Trump because Russia released Clinton campaign documents to WikiLeaks. Everything is possible, and anything is possible.

But what is impossible is that a majority of voters fell for fake news articles, Russian and alt-right conspiracies. Or even a statistically significant percentage of voters. What is impossible is that the American public is so stupid that they were duped into voting for Trump. What is impossible is that Hillary Clinton could have won this election, this year of all years. What is impossible is how poor of a candidate Hillary Clinton truly was.

And unfortunately for the public, you know what else is impossible?

That the media will ever stop searching and reporting on excuses as to how Hillary Clinton lost.

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