How the NY Times botched its coverage of Clinton v. Trump

Steven Rosenfeld in Alternet:

Hillary_trump11-580x385For months, readers of the New York Times and other influential mainstream media have heard about how “fake news” soiled 2016’s election. But they haven’t heard how poorly the Times and its peers covered the election, especially in its pivotal final months. Now a major report in the renowned Columbia Journalism Review has presented a detailed analysis showing the most influential mainstream media—with the New York Times as Exhibit A—was as superficial and scandal-obsessed as any online outlet trafficking in political gossip in the 2016 campaign. “We agree that fake news and misinformation are real problems that deserve serious attention. We also agree that social media and other online technologies have contributed to deep-seated problems in democratic discourse such as increasing polarization and erosion of support for traditional sources of authority,” Duncan J. Watts and David M. Rothschild write in a lengthy article, "Don’t blame the election on fake news. Blame it on the media." “Nonetheless, we believe that the volume of reporting around fake news, and the role of tech companies in disseminating those falsehoods, is both disproportionate to its likely influence in the outcome of the election and diverts attention from the culpability of the mainstream media itself.”

Their investigation suggests mainstream media were far more influential than the most partisan and propagandistic social media, yet they make a larger and more important point. As any American who paid attention to the 2016 election can attest, mainstream media loved covering Trump like a never-ending Super Bowl of play-by-play idiocies and outrages. Crucially, they went overboard in covering Hillary Clinton’s flaws, starting with her dumb decision to use a private email server as secretary of state.

More here.