The legacy news media appears determined to nail down its own coffin-lid, as its former viewers and readers are forced to seek out netizen journalists, niche internet opinion sites like The Spectator Australia, and You-Tubers to find answers to some very big questions that aren’t going away about the US presidential election.
These aren’t difficult questions. They are the same questions journalists pose every day. Just not, it seems, for the curious events that unfolded on 3 November and the days following, in the counting rooms and back rooms of the biggest swing states. Finding the answers, though, is hard.
The legacy media did much self-inflicted damage when it failed to stop Trump’s election in 2016. Four years later it is ably finishing itself off, as it furiously tries to replace him.
Make no mistake, what we are witnessing is not only the biggest story of the decade – perhaps of the century so far – but the biggest failure of the news media in living memory.
The past four weeks has marked the turning of the page of history, but not in the way the media wants you to believe, from Trump to Biden.
Rather, it marks the final, irreparable breach of trust between the news media and many millions of people.
Forced into a choice between expedience and independence –- almost all news media organisations have chosen the former.
So with the media not interested in doing journalism (defined once and forever as “telling the public what is going on”), like any banned commodity, real journalism has been driven underground.
That most dangerous of species –- the well-informed citizen –- has been scouring the internet for independent blogs, previously overlooked journals, vloggers, podcasts, data-journalists, opinion blow-hards and shock jocks.
It takes longer and can lead down some dead ends, but in the end, with the help of many others also searching, something approaching that objective of journalism can be achieved: being well informed.
As for what used to be journalism -– the list of journalists to call it out is growing, drawn from across the political spectrum: Ted Koppel, Lara Logan, Megyn Kelly, Glenn Greenwald and Sharyl Attkisson, to name a few.
Australian mainstream media have drunk the Kool-Aid, except Sky News, with low points provided by ABC “journalists” Greg Jennett comparing President Trump to a turkey set for slaughter, and Leigh Sales labelling him “in denial”.
Real sources of information can be found –- the best ones are pushing to the top of the US’s most popular podcasts. Nor is it hard to find the evidence of widespread irregularities and possibly systematic fraud. At this point, three weeks after the poll, if you still have to ask for evidence then you either don’t know what it looks like, or you’re gas-lighting.
It’s this disconnect around “evidence” that has elicited a rising anger.
Many Americans see this as an existential issue for their country, and their identity as citizens of a representative democracy.
In press conferences ignored by the press, you hear normal people say “everything is at stake”. One young woman in Pennsylvania, a Republican poll watcher in Philadelphia, on election day said this, in a hurriedly convened hearing of the state senate: “The Republic is angry, disgruntled, tired, beaten up and ready to defend this country.”
Yes, many of them are Trumpers, but many are simply among the approximately 73 million citizens who voted for Trump -– five million more votes than in 2016.
This story is far from over. Court challenges are only now gathering pace. Trump won an interim judgement last week (25 November) and the betting odds of him winning plunged from 30-1 to 15-1. They have since gone out again.
Most betting houses have not closed their markets and paid out. Funny, that.
Here’s a hot-take: this election isn’t the first presidential election that has ever been stolen, but it may yet become the first one exposed as stolen in time to impact the Electoral College decision, due on 14 December.
Just as the Watergate scandal 50 years ago burnished the credentials of traditional news media, credit for uncovering the next great scandal in presidential politics (if that is how it goes) will go to a dispersed hive mind of citizen-journalists, bloggers and YouTubers.
But don’t expect to read about it in the newspapers.
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