“I’d love, in other words, some journalism.”


“I have my own theories. Primarily that this is a delayed reaction to the financial crash of 2007, which showed so many Americans that the system was rigged against them. When nobody in power paid a price, they lost faith. The election of 2016, and now 2020, is the outraged response, a decade in the making.”

The one way Sanders is the new Trump, by Kyle Pope (Columbia Journalism Review)

THE WEDNESDAY MORNING AFTER THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, I wrote a piece for CJR criticizing the American press for its coverage of the rise of Trump, which I argued would “stand among journalism’s great failures.”

In the second paragraph, I wrote:

Reporters’ eagerness first to ridicule Trump and his supporters, then dismiss them, and finally to actively lobby and argue for their defeat have led us to a moment when the entire journalistic enterprise needs to be rethought and rebuilt. In terms of bellwether moments, this is our anti-Watergate.

Thought exercise: substitute “Sanders” for “Trump” in that first sentence. Here’s another paragraph:

Too often, the views of Trump’s followers … were dismissed entirely by an establishment media whose worldview is so different, and so counter, to theirs that it became chic to belittle them and wave them off. Reporters’ personal views got in the way of their ability to hear what was happening around them.

It is now obvious that we as an industry have learned nothing from the fundamental failures that led to the election of 2016. It is so apparent in the coverage of Trump, and has been from the beginning of his presidency, that it almost needn’t be said again: The hyper-partisanship, especially on cable news. The lack of follow-through from one outrage to the next. The willingness to let Trump, and his surrogates, set the news agenda again and again. The lack of creativity in covering a president who brings a destructive new imagination to the running of the country.

I am resigned to these shortcomings when it comes to Trump. A journalistic reckoning I hoped would materialize never did; Twitter, outrage, and a million arbitrarily urgent news cycles got in the way. My hope, more recently, has been that the 2020 Democratic primaries could help atone for journalism’s political sins.

It is not going well, as the recent coverage of Bernie Sanders shows …