OK, here’s another point I’ve made many times before, but the reporting on the Michigan Democratic primary offered another illustration of it.
There is one predominant “bias” in news reporting, and it’s very harmful to the country. It’s journalists’ addiction to conflict. This is very harmful to the country. (Another one that may be just as harmful is the tendency to explain and interpret everything, from global security to pop culture trivia, in terms of the next election. But that’s somewhat less relevant to what I’m writing about today.)
I don’t think reporters and editors are doing it on purpose. Their brains are just stuck in this mode. When they encounter a story that lacks significant conflict, they instinctively exaggerate what little they can find. It happens on a subconscious level, I believe. At least I hope it’s never conscious.
Anyway, we saw it in Michigan, where Joe Biden won the essentially uncontested primary with 81 percent. It was a victory margin Trump would kill for (and assume his MAGA mob would still support him, of course).
And yet what sort of coverage did we see, over and over and over? On the GOP side, it was about how Trump continues to crush his opposition. And as he always does, he gloated and boasted, and everything he said was dutifully reported.
On the Democratic side, headline after headline after headline said “Biden wins, BUT…” (The one you see above from my NYT Audio app — “Biden Takes a Hit in Michigan…” — was the most disproportional, unhinged hed I saw. Most stuck with the milder “but” construction.)
The “but” is a reference to the small number of Democratic primary voters who opted to vote “Uncommitted.” How small? 13 percent. This is attributed to a campaign in that state to protest the war in Gaza.
So, what do you think that means? Not much, as I see it. These voters did not choose to vote in the Republican primary. (Assuming that would be a viable option — I’m not sure how much trouble it would be there to change party registration.) They would have been crazy to do so, if their goal is to stop the fighting over there. They apparently realize that Trump is FAR less likely to do what Biden is constantly doing — trying to restrain Netanyahu (which is an uphill battle, since Netanyahu’s best chance of staying in office is to prolong the war).
And they didn’t vote for another Democrat, presumably because one who will magically make them happier about Gaza doesn’t exist.
Mind you, this small “but” isn’t some harbinger of what will happen elsewhere. Michigan has the largest number of Arab-Americans in the country. This is the one place you would expect such a protest. But what if it did happen elsewhere? What would that 13 percent mean in this primary or another? Nikki Haley got twice that percentage in Michigan, but where’s the foreboding language about what a problem that is for Trump?
The only remotely plausible reason I saw or heard presented anywhere for making a big deal of this was the idea that Michigan is a swing state, and anything that might cut into Joe’s vote even slightly could be important in November. But that’s not gonna keep this Biden supporter up nights between now and then. (This brings up a third harmful “bias” we see in political reporting these days — the obsession with trying to predict WHAT WILL HAPPEN far in the future rather than simply reporting what actually has happened.)
Anyway, I just thought I’d point this out before the memory fades. Media outlets were desperate to find a fight somewhere in this boring non-contest, and this is all they could come up with…