President Obama is not taking Hillary Clinton’s defeat very well.
Much like the stompy-footed liberals still pouting at the Democratic Party’s resounding loss–by burning flags and hanging Trump in effigy and what-not–his comments belie that there is no genuine introspection on the left to be found.
The presidency being a supposedly dignified office, Obama cannot fully express his disbelief that the American people have rejected the Democratic Party. Obama can, however, do what he does best: Take passive aggressive potshots and engage in political finger-pointing.
On Tuesday, the president blamed a familiar critic for playing a substantial role in Hillary’s loss: Fox News. As reported by The Washington Post:
Jann S. Wenner of Rolling Stone didn’t bring up the topic of Fox News. President Obama volunteered it in an interview right after Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump. Asked whether he thinks the United States is a progressive country, Obama replied that Democrats are having trouble reaching white working-class voters.
“There is a cohort of working-class white voters that voted for me in sizable numbers, but that we’ve had trouble getting to vote for Democrats in midterm elections,” said the president. “In this election, [they] turned out in huge numbers for Trump. And I think that part of it has to do with our inability, our failure, to reach those voters effectively. Part of it is Fox News in every bar and restaurant in big chunks of the country, but part of it is also Democrats not working at a grass-roots level, being in there, showing up, making arguments.”
This is akin to admitting that the Democratic Party cannot effectively attain and wield national power without a complete monopoly over what is shown on television.
It is not enough, apparently, that the Democrats’ message is given more than ample airtime on the networks and on non-Fox cable news outlets; airtime typically unaccompanied by aggressive commentary or criticism, one might add. No, there must be a total echo chamber repeating and reinforcing the Democrats’ preferred narratives: On television, radio, and social media.Image Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Leaving aside the sheer narcissism of the president to assume nothing could potentially have gone awry by sending the shrill, ultra-elitist Hillary Clinton to shout her empty slogans and even emptier identity politics at white working voters, the entire argument doesn’t make sense on its face.
Fox News has undoubtedly leaned more conservative in terms of the scope of its news commentary than its rival outlets. Its viewer demographic, broken down ideology via Pew Research, reflects that.
The first problem with Obama’s scapegoating of Fox News for being on “in every bar and restaurant” (perhaps a subtle joke that the network’s viewers are inebriated?) is that… well, liberals don’t tend to watch it. When broken down further, the most pro-Trump show on the network, “Hannity,” gets only 6% of its viewership from liberals.
Lest everyone should forget, Fox News has not been a consistently pro-Trump network, either. Megyn Kelly has been a fount of controversy since her famous public tiff with The Donald in late 2015. Trump even skipped out on a Fox debate, shirking a potentially hostile confrontation, and arguably, damaging its ratings.Image Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Can anyone recall the last time a Democratic primary candidate skipped a debate with the big three networks, PBS, or CNN, out of fear the debate moderators would ask tough questions likely to show up in negative ads during the general election?
Never happened — and it’s a ludicrous thought on its face. Everyone knows the game is rigged on those networks, from Candy Crowley’s infamous defense of Obama in his 2012 debate with Romney or Lester Holt’s decidedly choosy fact-checking job with Trump.
Fox News’ confrontational attitude–as ratings-driven and cynical as it may be at times–has made it the most trusted network; that’s according to viewers, not the left-leaning political class. Its perennially high ratings both anger and astound the left; although it still does not draw nearly as many viewers as the other networks put together.Image Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
The bottom line is that Fox News doesn’t have the clout or the ability to single-handedly sway the election for Trump. Recall that many of its viewers were angry that any moderators confronted Trump in adversarial fashion during the debates. But at the end of the day, Trump was able to overcome all his critics, including Fox News–and, one might add, aggressive vetting is a healthy part of the political process.
Another flaw in Obama’s argument is that its Republican audience is already inclined to vote that way, its centrist demographic is geared to draw from multiple sources of information, and liberal viewers are even more likely to seek out news that doesn’t conflict with their worldview.
In other words, one can’t even estimate Fox News’s effect on the election; one can only assume that a complete monopoly of pro-Democratic news on every media channel all the time could, perhaps, drag Hillary across the finish line.Image Credit: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
Obama’s potshot at Fox News and its viewers is an extension of another form of Democratic denial about the election: That “fake news” represents a threat to democracy. As the president said in September, as reported by CNN:
At a fundraiser in New York City, he cited political polarization and specifically called out the influence of conservative media.
“This should not be a close election, but it will be. And the reason it will be is not because of Hillary’s flaws, but rather because, structurally, we’ve become a very polarized society,” Obama said Sunday.
He continued, “If all you’re doing is watching Fox News and listening to Rush Limbaugh and reading some of the blogs that are churning out a lot of misinformation on a regular basis, then it’s very hard for you to think that you’re going to vote for somebody who you’ve been told is taking the country in the wrong direction.”
“And so, structurally, we already have these divisions and it’s going to be hard to overcome those,” Obama said.
This new narrative — news outlets that do not echo Democratic talking points or aren’t left-wing fellow travelers are somehow engaging in “disinformation”–smacks like a “disavow what you do” type of complaint. If one is engaging in disinformation, what better political tactic can there be than to call out and to seek silencing alternative narratives?
It’s not like the left is complaining about innocuous fake news stories like Michael Phelps returning to his tank at Sea World or zombies rushing Haitian jailers. The goal is political power: Whatever stands in the way, whether or not it’s the truth, even especially if it’s the truth, is a real problem.Image Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
“Progressives” stridently demanding conformity with political correctness–whether or not it threatens the core institutions of Western society–is never to blame for polarization in their eyes. It is only those who resist the left’s “long march” through the culture and the tiers of power who are to blame–even when done in response to the most divisive president in the nation’s history.
It must be that people are “racist.” If not that, uninformed. If not that, lied to. It’s never the left’s fault for pushing too hard, being too insulting, too demanding, or simply failing in their purported goals for the nation.
The left claims that critical voices like Fox News and other conservative outlets represent a threat to “democracy.” Ironically, it is uniformity in the news that represents the true threat.