The Magnificent Pre-Election Blindness of The New York Times
You can judge the competence of a newspaper by the articles that its editors run.
Consider this article from The New York times. Here is the headline: Donald Trump and the G.O.P.: The Party of Lincoln, Reagan and, Perhaps, Extinction.
The date of this article: October 15.
The author: Declan Walsh. He is an Irishman who spent his career in Cairo and Pakistan. He was thrown out of Pakistan. So, the Times put him on the election beat. It wanted a foreigner’s views. It got them, good and hard.
You may have heard about the luck of the Irish. In his case, Walsh’s luck was bad. He wrote what I regard as the archetypal article that best reflects the pre-election arrogance of the mainstream media.
These were an arrogant bunch before November 8. Then they had their heads handed to them. Now all they have are declining audiences and falling revenues.
Read this. Savor it.
Staunch in its opposition to the Democrats but rived by fierce internal schisms, the American political party stumbled toward defeat, its members cursing their fate. “We are slain,” cried Lewis D. Campbell, a representative from Ohio. “The party is dead, dead, dead!”That was the election of 1852, when the Whig Party, then one of the country’s two major political forces, began to crumble over bitter arguments about slavery. The Whigs would dissolve within four years, to be reborn as the Republican Party — the very party now engulfed by its own civil war.
As this year’s extraordinary election hurtles toward its climax, scores of Republican leaders have deserted their party’s presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump. A snowballing scandal over sexual harassment and assault allegations has caused Mr. Trump’s poll numbers to crater, and some of the party’s top donors have suggested abandoning him altogether. But a solid core of rank-and-file Republicans stands defiantly with Mr. Trump, flocking to increasingly raucous rallies where the candidate vents his rage toward and disdain for a party that, at least theoretically, still backs him.
The turmoil raises a bracing possibility: Is an American political behemoth — a 162-year-old party that has produced 18 presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan — about to fall apart like its predecessor?
Although Republicans have lost the past two presidential elections, they have had stunning success in congressional races and now enjoy their largest majority since 1928. That has given them considerable power to block laws, constrain President Obama and threaten government shutdowns.Republicans also control two-thirds of the 50 state legislatures, allowing them to shape laws on issues at the heart of America’s culture wars: guns, abortion and marijuana.
This should have alerted Mr. Walsh to a potential problem with his story. But it didn’t.
In the final weeks of the race, Mr. Trump’s scorched-earth campaign has exposed a yawning gulf between Republican leaders and much of the party’s base.
So much the worse for the party’s leaders. They will now have to do a bit of groveling. But that’s what politicians do when they stick their fingers in the wind and encounter a category 5 hurricane.
Some Republicans have had enough. At the party’s contentious national convention in July in Cleveland, I met Ryan Davenport, 25, a teacher from Dallas in a stars-and-stripes bow tie, who brimmed with fury at the ascension of Mr. Trump as the party’s standard-bearer. When I called Mr. Davenport last weekend, he said he had abandoned the party and would vote for Evan McMullin, a former C.I.A. operative who began a moonshot bid for the presidency as an anti-Trump independent.
Mr. Davenport said he took no pleasure in seeing the party he loved in disarray. But when fund-raisers for Mr. Trump called his house, he told them to leave him alone. “We have a predator running for president of the United States,” Mr. Davenport told me. “He’s radioactive.”
Mr. Walsh would have done better to have talked with someone other than Mr. Davenport, age 25. He would have been wiser to talk things over with Henry “Bubba” Jones, age 57.
Whether Mr. Trump wins or loses in November, questions over the party’s future will remain.
The questions may remain, but the profits of The New York Times will be lower.
“Our views — the Republican intellectuals and think-tank people — differ from a significant chunk of the electorate,” said Avik Roy, a conservative strategist who likened Mr. Trump’s success to the rise of right-wing nationalist parties in Europe. “And it’s the electorate that decides.”
You can’t fool Avik Roy!
In pugnacious form, Mr. Trump has in recent days inveighed against Republican leaders. Dealing with his party, he declared, was harder than fighting his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
In both cases, he won.
With several polling websites putting Mr. Trump’s chances of winning the election around 10 percent, he appears to be steeling for defeat, warning his supporters that the outcome of the election will be rigged. At a rally in Florida on Thursday, he struck an apocalyptic tone. “This is a struggle for the survival of our nation,” he said.
Or, at least, the survival of the Republican Party.
When it comes to the long-term survival of The New York Times, think “Whigs.”