We’ve seen all manner of blame-throwing ever since Hillary Clinton, polling’s prohibitive favorite in the 2016 presidential race, tanked in key states when voters actually did their thing. Her campaign chairman, John Podesta, for instance, cited a “hostile press corps” that presumably obsessed over the candidate’s email scandal.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, incoming White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon advances another view. “The media bubble is the ultimate symbol of what’s wrong with this country,” Bannon told Michael Wolff. “It’s just a circle of people talking to themselves who have no f—ing idea what’s going on. If The New York Times didn’t exist, CNN and MSNBC would be a test pattern. The Huffington Post and everything else is predicated on The New York Times. It’s a closed circle of information from which Hillary Clinton got all her information — and her confidence. That was our opening.”
There’s plenty of evidence out there to corroborate Bannon’s contentions. For starters, mainstream media outlets required a jolt of adrenaline just to take Donald Trump seriously during the primary campaign, so sure were they that he’d flame out just like short-duration front-runners in previous election cycles. And “the media bubble” produced an assortment of election forecasting — by FiveThirtyEight, the Huffington Post and the New York Times, among others — that foresaw a high probability of a Clinton victory — forecasting that was based on some faulty state-level polling.
The notion that the Clinton campaign derived confidence from a “closed circle of information” also has a firm footing. “The more universal explanation […] was that the data that informed many of the strategic decisions was simply wrong. A campaign that is given a game plan that strongly points to success shouldn’t be expected to rip it up. ‘We all were blinded, and even at the end, we were blinded by our own set of biases,’ said Paul Maslin, a Madison-based Democratic operative and pollster.”
Where does that bit of truth-telling come from? The Huffington Post!
And one other complication: The Republican National Committee’s own research model “showed Trump finishing 30 electoral votes short of the tally needed to clinch the White House, while losing by various margins to Hillary Clinton in the battleground states of Florida, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.” So maybe this was a bipartisan bubble?