Brexit and Trump win show media can no longer sway votes

The world’s mainstream media has discredited itself in its attempt to influence outcomes, writes Howard Feldman

The year 2016 will be remembered as the year that mainstream media died (after a long illness bravely borne). It fought a valiant battle and although the seriousness of its condition was not immediately known, the election of Donald Trump as the 45th US president left little doubt it is time for its burial.

This is not about Trump. It is about the fact that close to 60-million people voted for him and no one in the media saw it coming. They were so caught up in their own echo chamber that they forgot their role is to report the news and not to influence it.

They were so convinced by their own writing, and by their own view of life, that they neglected to look out of their offices to what was happening on the street below.

It reminds me of some business meetings I have attended. The scene: a few business people walk into a boardroom. The meeting begins. The person with the most influence in the room announces the sky today is purple. There is silence. Contemplation. In an attempt to get on his good side, a few juniors nod their heads and find a way to support this theory. Because it makes sense.

Within 40 minutes, the entire group is so convinced by this “purpleness” that when they leave the boardroom, anyone who questions the notion (by venturing that the sky is blue) is viewed with horror and disdain.

They have to be ostracised because their narrative is unsettling. And besides, anyone who is anyone knows that the sky today is fantastically purple.

US president-elect Donald Trump appears on the cover of local Chinese magazine Global People in Shanghai, China, on Monday. . The cover reads, 'Why did Trump win?' Picture:  AFP PHOTO/JOHANNES EISELE

US president-elect Donald Trump appears on the cover of local Chinese magazine Global People in Shanghai, China, on Monday. . The cover reads, ‘Why did Trump win?’ Picture: AFP PHOTO/JOHANNES EISELE



Which makes the Trump story and the Brexit story so interesting. The media did not want either to happen. And because they did not want it, they told us it would not. And because they said it would not, we believed them. Because they are convincing and they are the media and they are meant to report on the news.

Only, Brexit did happen and Trump became president, because something has changed, and because people who actually look at the sky can see exactly what the colour is.

In its attempt to influence the outcome, the mainstream media has discredited itself. The rabid and hysterical response to Trump increased in intensity as the man became more popular. But the more it did so, the less impartial they appeared and the less influence they would have. They were neither reporting the news nor influencing it. Which sounds a pretty miserable place to be. If you are the media.

The hysteria was not confined to the US media. A respected South African journalist tweeted on hearing of Trump’s success: “We forget that majority of Americans aren’t liberal New Yorkers or what we see in LA movies. Majority are simple minded bigots evidently.” Seriously? And with not a hint of irony? Who is the bigot here? Are these the same Americans who were able to elect a black president twice?

Are the 60-million Americans who voted for Trump really all simple-minded?


Source: Business Live