The Day The Press Lost Its Power

Good news when Trump is president
Photo credit: Donald Trump at CPAC 2016, by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license.

Want to know the day when the press lost it’s power?

In their weekly Sunday morning news shows, ABC, CBS, and NBC put the power of the press on full display on November 6, 2016, two days before the election. At long last, they would elect Hillary president, nearly a quarter of a century after she first ran as co-president. A two-fer. Vote for him, get him and her.

And 24 years later, the polls showed her ahead. While Nate Silver hedged his bet, he still put her chances at 2-5.

They all agreed.

CHUCK TODD: “Pennsylvania, Chris?”

CHRIS MATTHEWS: “Yeah, I was in the Democratic City Meeting of all the war leaders Friday at noontime. I mean, they let me in. They don’t usually do that. And that’s when they hand out the street money. Okay? It’s real. 200 bucks for a voting division. And these guys are all pros.”

CHUCK TODD: “What’s street money used for? You know, you throw it out there.”

CHRIS MATTHEWS: “It’s all professional, it’s all legal. You basically pay people to go out door-to-door starting at 11 in the morning, you roust ’em out of the house. If they haven’t voted, you say, “Why haven’t you voted?” You go back at 4:30 in the afternoon, roust ’em again. You make sure that in these congested all Democratic districts, where everybody is a Democrat, they all vote.

“And you turn in a plurality of 450,000 votes coming out of the city. Now with the suburbs being basically 50/50, a little more pro-Hillary this time because of professional women, college-educated women, they’re going to win the state with that. It’s very professional and I don’t know what Trump’s thinking about. I asked Brady, the boss of the city, I said, ‘What’s–what’s he talking about? He’s going to carry Pennsylvania.’ He said, ‘He’s propagandizing, it’s his own mind. It’s not going to happen.’ So I think it’s a firewall, Pennsylvania, once again.”


TOM BROKAW: “Well, what we’re seeing is Donald Trump, the one that we’ve known in New York for a long time. His ego overrides everything else, including judgment. He has mistaken those big crowds that he gets, as he got again last night, 10-15-25,000 people for how you run a general election. And he thinks by showing up, he’s going to get people who are going to show up there at his rally, but it’s 25,000, it’s not two million that he needs in every state. He is mistaken about what it takes to win.”


CHUCK TODD: “And we are back. Earlier we revealed the top lines of our brand new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll which showed Hillary Clinton ahead of Donald Trump 44 to 40. But there’s a lot more behind those numbers. We thought we’d let you hear from the people that do this poll all the time for us. Our pollsters, Bill McInturff is the republican pollster and co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies and from team blue Fred Yang of Hart Research. Alright Fred I’ll start with you. Clinton is winning so I’ll let team blue begin. How durable is this 4-point lead?”

FRED YANG: “I think it’s pretty durable, Chuck. The difference between the poll we conducted a couple weeks ago and now is that Trump made up ground with groups he needed to make up ground with: Republicans, white, non-college educated. But to me the most important number for the Clinton campaign and why I think her lead is durable is if a candidate in politics is having momentum they should be winning with independents. In our poll he’s losing with independents by 6 points.”


CHARLIE COOK: “Feingold wins. [Snip] Katie McGinty wins.”

(Both lost, as Trump took their states and Republicans held the Senate.)


CHRIS MATTHEWS: “I think the biggest news in this country is going to be the election of the first woman president. It’s going to blow our minds when it actually happens. It’s going to be a new world for young women like my daughter.”


JOHN HEILEMANN, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: “We get those results earlier. Places like Nevada, I think now, given the early vote, is probably gone for Donald Trump already. But African-Americans in North Carolina, suburban, Philadelphia suburbs turnout, like just raw numbers in Philadelphia, whether Clinton can run up the — the — the totals there, that will kind of lock down Pennsylvania if she does. And we look at those compared to 2012. Those are the earliest things.

“And I think actually keep an eye on New Hampshire just because it’s a state that, you know, has — she has had a pretty wide, in some cases, lead there. That race has clearly tightened up. And if Trump were to win New Hampshire, you know, obviously it doesn’t matter that much in terms of the raw number of electoral votes, but it might be an early warning sign for the Clinton campaign that all is not well in some other battlegrounds.”

(She took Nevada and New Hampshire. He took North Carolina and Pennsylvania, and the presidency.)


MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: “I think she’s got about a 95 percent chance in this election and I think she’s going to have a higher margin than Barack Obama did in 2012.”

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: “Higher margin than –”

DOWD: “She’s going to win by more than 5 million votes. She’s going to win by a higher percentage and interestingly, she’s going to have a more diverse coalition of voters than Barack Obama even had when you look at the final numbers in this race. Every piece of data points in that direction and my view is you take the facts into account and that’s what the data says.”


DOWD: “If you look at and we remember election night 2012, I said the problem the Republicans have they’re a ‘Mad Men’ party in a ‘Modern Family’ world and so they wrote an autopsy of the party and they basically said underlying factors we have to figure out a better way to appeal to minority voters and figure out a better way to appeal to college educated voters. On election night Hillary Clinton’s margins among non-white voters and college educated will be the highest we’ve ever seen.”


ALEX CASTELLANOS, CHAIR, PURPLE STRATEGIES: “He’s going to get 44 percent, but he’s the solution to the problem that Republican voters see. He is nothing more than an expression of the outrage of a lot of Republican voters at the Republican establishment. Our party is broken and unless we — this is the last election we can crank up our engine way past the red line and try to get 178 percent of the old white guy vote and win anything.”


DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN KEITH ELLISON: “I think Hillary Clinton, after she wins this election, should go to all communities, including white working class communities, and say I’m here to build bridges and to do some construction jobs. I need your help. And I need you to tell those people who claim to represent you that they need to support me in helping you get some jobs.”


DOWD: “She’s going to 50-45. She’s going to get very close to that 50 number, which I think would be significant. And, I think she’s going to win 341 electoral votes, which means she takes Ohio. The only two states that flip are Iowa and North Carolina.”


KIRSTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: “I wind up going — starting with that Romney map and I add to Trump’s column Ohio, and I add Iowa. But then I take away North Carolina. I think that’s a state that potentially a Republican could — could lose this time around. And then there’s Congressional district in Maine. It winds up giving me a prediction of 322 for Clinton.”


ELLISON: “I see 341. I think she’s going to get 50.1 percent of the vote. And I think–”


ELLISON: “Yes. I’ll put it there. And I think that — then we’ve got a lot of healing to do, which I think she’s well able to do.”


CASTELLANOS: “Two hundred and eighty-six electoral votes for Donald Trump. He wins North Carolina and Ohio and goes up through the Rust Belt. He barely hangs on in Florida. And I think if he does lose, the rational brain said it would be because of the Hispanic vote in Florida. But I think he edges that out and the exit polls, Kerry-Bush.”


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: “I love your faith.”

CASTELLANOS: “I think there’s a secret, magical Trump vote.”



They threw caution to the wind, and with it, their credibility, which is the source of their power.

Was the source of their power.

The next week there were excuses. There were recriminations. There were sad, sad faces.

But my favorite was this exchange on “Face the Nation” on November 13.

JACQUELINE ALEMANY, CBS NEWS DIGITAL JOURNALIST: “Then you have the low moments, though what was amazing to me amongst Trump supporters was that there were never any low moments despite the media narrative.”


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: “Yes, that’s right.”

ALEMANY: “I went to a — the watch — a watch party in Parma for — hosted by a group of Trump supporters after the lewd tape had come out, the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape. And people were cheering and hooting and hollering the entire time and walked away, you know, that Donald Trump blew — blew us away. He won hands down. That was it. You know, it was a completely different narrative. And I don’t think Trump supporters lost faith once throughout this whole thing.”


I know Parma. Southwest suburb of Cleveland. Named its high schools Parma, Normandy and Valley Forge. Pretty ethnic. Pretty patriotic.

You know, maybe if the networks had listened to the people instead of the polls, then the networks might not have been so surprised.

The media lost on November 8, 2016. Bigger than Clinton. She can tell herself, hey, I was the first one to try to be the first woman president and I will be revered when we finally elect one.

But what does the media get?

Egg on the faces of all those experts.

By the way, no one lost their job. It’s as if the network bosses want ignorant people giving their opinions on Sunday morning.

By Don Surber.

Don Surber is a renowned retired newspaperman and columnist of forty years experience living in Poca, West Virginia. In July, he published Trump the Press on Amazon, a look at how the experts got the Republican nomination wrong. It is available on Kindle, and in paperback.


His bestselling new book, Trump The Establishment is a stirring sequel covering the election. It is also available on Kindle, and in paperback.


Caution: Readers occasionally may laugh out loud at the media as they read these books.  I know I did! Lots.

You can also follow him on Twitter 

And friend him on Facebook.

1 Comment

  1. A long long time ago
    I remember when the news man was the most trusted man around
    And I knew when I heard his voice
    That I could take his words to the bank
    And knew that always was the way it is

    But Election time made me shiver
    And every poll set forth a river
    Who was going to win this time
    Despite her history of crime

    I can’t remember if I cried
    Or the exit polling hurt my pride
    But something touched me deep inside
    The day the news biz died

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