Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Horse Race? Or Hindenburg?

    Donald Trump is clearly losing this election. What is the media going to do about it?

    Even Trump understands that he's way behind in the polls and that those polls are on the level. That's why he shook up his campaign staff this morning to make it more Trump-y. (New campaign motto: "Let Trump be Trump. We're out of other options.") He's doing much worse than Mitt Romney was four years ago, and Romney lost by a solid margin.

    Trump is actually doing so badly that he has defeated the national media's reflexive need to "balance" coverage and to present the Presidential election as a close contest. There are plenty of reporters out there happy, more than happy to write the "Trump Comeback" story or, if necessary, the "Trump: Down But Not Out" story. But Trump's campaign has been so, well, Trumpalicious that he hasn't given those reporters a chance. Trump is currently losing so badly that they can't spin the polls any other way. You can't write the comeback narrative if the comeback kid keeps falling further behind.

    The great James Fallows tweeted last week that we were approaching a turning point, where the media would have to decide how to cover the election:


    Next wk will see collision of 2 powerful media instincts:
    1) Story must change ('doing better than you think')
    2) Bandwagon ('losers lose')

    — James Fallows (@JamesFallows) August 13, 2016


    Well, this is the week for that collision. Trump's campaign shakeup is, among other things, a clear attempt to get some journalists back to the Comeback narrative, by giving them a "turning point" as a hook for those stories. That, after all, is how Trump's last shakeup, the firing of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, worked. It provided a peg to hang the "Trump is about to pivot" stories from. It's the equivalent of hanging an "Under New Management" sign on a restaurant that's been closed down over health violations. Now the pivot hasn't worked, because Trump didn't actually pivot, and so he has new new management and Paul Manafort now reports to someone who is basically Corey Lewandowski with even less campaign experience. Whee! Keep your hands and feet inside the roller coaster at all times!

    But since the clear point of this reshuffle is to double down on Trump's previous unworkable strategy, there's a chance that it reinforces the Loser in Disarray story instead and brings on the mother of all media pile-ons. The standard thinking is that Trump is failing and flailing because he's refusing to act like a normal candidate. Now he's essentially declared that normal is for losers, and he's going to be more -- God help us -- unrestrained. More rallies, uglier personal attacks, no bothering with stuff like campaign offices in, say, states. Who knows? Maybe he'll burn a cross on his own lawn. Trump is simply going to flail away with both arms. Since most journalists understand Trump's Trumpiness as the reason he's losing, they are going to assume that turbo-Trumping the campaign will only make him a bigger loser.

    The press wants a good horse race, always. The horse race means ratings and sales and advertising dollars. They want a close election the way sportscasters want a close game, because it delivers eyeballs. It takes an a lot to pry the media away from their desire to present a national election as neck-and-neck. An election that seems over before Labor Day is basically their worst nightmare: boring, predictable, and bad for business. How do you generate story ideas when the story is already over?

    But the national press can also reach a tipping point where they no longer treat the election as a contest at all. Once that point is reached, the press will start to cover Trump and his campaign for the sheer curiosity value of public-self destruction. Not horse-race coverage, but Hindenburg coverage, where you stop pretending the thing is getting off the ground and just invite the viewers to watch the beautiful colors as it burns. This is how local news covers car crashes. This is how reality TV, from which Trump comes, covers the personal meltdowns of the psychologically troubled people they keep putting on camera. They learned early that the audience doesn't watch reality TV to see other people succeed. They watch reality TV to see other people flame out. When Trump's political failure becomes spectacular enough, the press will treat the disaster as a spectacle.

    We've basically reached that tipping point now. It's becoming impossible to pretend that Trump has a fighting chance or that he's capable of taking it, that he is anything but a loser. And so the media will be forced to cover him as the huge, dangerously volatile bag of gas that he actually is. You will be able to see the explosion across New Jersey. And the press will just roll the cameras and watch him burn.



    An election that seems over before Labor Day is basically their worst nightmare: boring, predictable, and bad for business. How do you generate story ideas when the story is already over?

    But they are salivating at the prospect of the October/November surprise from Wikkileaks.  The emails that they hacked from the DNC proved that although they tossed anti-Bernie stuff back and forth, they DIDN'T USE IT!  But you would never guess that from the take that is now "common knowledge."  

    I hope that what ever feces is splattered on the barn wall will be refuted by normal people (like me).  Every time Trump calls HRT "Lying Hillary" someone - ANYONE - with a brain should bring up the Politifact stats that say she is the MOST truthful of the candidates, and Trump is the least truthful.

    Did anyone other than me see Hillary's speech today?  It was really, really great!  I wish my fb friends who consider her Satan himself would just watch!

    The emails that they hacked from the DNC proved that although they tossed anti-Bernie stuff back and forth, they DIDN'T USE IT!

    You're making a leap of logic here. The emails that surfaced just before the DNC were the ones that Wikileaks chose to release, not necessarily the totality of those hacked. When interim chairwoman Donna Brazile issued an apology to the Sanders campaign, she explicitly acknowledged that there could be worse revelations to come. That suggests she knows there is stuff in that cache showing more direct collusion between the Hillary campaign and her longtime pal Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

    The vast majority of Sanders Democrats now accept that stopping Trump has to be their top goal in November. But I do worry about evidence of backroom dealings playing into independents' perceptions of Hillary in the last crucial days of the campaign. You're quite right that GOP attacks on "crooked Hillary" are mostly smoke and mirrors, but that is one of the few effective themes Trump has left, and he is going to hammer on it till the end.

    I like the way the polls are trending, and the Democratic organization and ground game should guarantee a sweeping victory. But I worry about October.


    It doesn't suggest anything of the kind. Why do people keep reading things into comments that the comment doesn't support. If you asked me I'd acknowledge that there could be worse revelations in the emails than has previously been released. That doesn't mean I know anything about the emails that haven't yet been released.

    Stipulations: We are on the same side, and I too have no knowledge of what else the hackers have.

    But Brazile is the consummate party insider. Interviewed right after her apology, she volunteered (she hadn't been asked) that there might be worse revelations to come. Intelligence specialists think so too:

    “The release ... has the hallmarks of a Russian active measures campaign,” David Shedd, a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told The Daily Beast. Shedd said that additional leaks were likely, echoing an opinion expressed by U.S. officials and experts who said that the release of emails on Friday may just be an opening salvo.

    I'm not making a case that the DNC favored Hillary over Bernie. That's old news and now irrelevant. What I'm saying is we need to take seriously the threat that hackers (possibly Russian agents) may have lots of ammunition they will use to try to hijack the election. Nothing any of us can do about it, except to make sure Democrats have all their ducks in a row beforehand.

    A little background reading:

    that there might be worse revelations to come. Intelligence specialists think so too:

    Again you're reading into the comment. Intelligence agents said additional leaks are likely but made no estimate as to whether they might be worse or not as bad. From everything I've read it's just as possible that they released the worst stuff they could find and any subsequent leaks will be less harmful. You're pushing the worse case scenario when there's simply not enough information to know.

    The cost benefit ratio for Putin, if he is in fact behind the hack and release, would suggest that Putin would not have released what we have seen so far if he did not have more to release later. Even assuming Putin is responsible is assuming he would actually rather have an unpredictable jerk fondling the nuclear football than Hillary enough to out his methods and sources and to prompt a barrage of demonizing fear-mongering punditry. I expect that you would agree that what has been released so far will not be much of a factor at all in deciding the election. I think Putin is smart enough to see that too so I expect that if Putin is behind the hack that there is more damage to come. There surely may be more released even if Putin is completely uninvolved but if nothing more comes out, and if our MSM's reporters continue to only report unverified information from anonymous sources, then I would tend toward believing that Putin did not release the small shot we have seen so far even though it is probable that his spy agencies can and have penetrated many/most/maybe all, of the sights they are interested in. 

    Putin would love having Trump as President. Trump would be a useful idiot. Trump is surrounded by Putin apologists. Trump shoved Paul Manafort under the bus because Manafort may have committed a crime by not reporting work that he was doing work for Pro-Russian Ukraine government here in the US. Manafort did not report being an agent of a foreign government.

    Trump is pro-Putin, just like Manafort.


    Maybe you are right, maybe Putin wants Trump to win and maybe Putin is responsible for the hack-leak and for the reason that you suggest. I will repeat though that there is a price he is paying for the very idea that he might have released a little information that nobody thinks will be sufficient to turn the election. I would not expect him to do that unless he had more to follow up with that would make his price, which he is already paying, worth paying. Most Americans are, like you, dutifully hating on Putin. You may be justified. But, the idea O Kat suggested that there is no good reason to think there is more bad news for Hillary to be leaked is what is in question in this comment thread. I think the strongest reason to think that there is more bad news for Hillary is if we find out for sure that it was Putin behind the hack-leak. As I already said, I don't think he would take one small in-affective document dump that exposed himself as meddling in our elections even if he wanted to meddle but if that small dump was all he had. 

    You believe that US intelligence is lying to the public about Putin's role in the hacks?

    Trump said that he might not support NATO, something Putin would love.

    I expect Hillary to be hit with everything including the kitchen sink from now until the election.


    You believe that US intelligence is lying to the public about Putin's role in the hacks?

    Is that a serious question? The following questions are serious. Do you believe that the US intelligence services would not lie, that they have not lied in the past, that government officials have not lied with claims about what “intelligence services” have either determined or suspect? My default starting position on belief in anything any politician says is to be agnostic. I do not automatically reject it in most cases but I certainly do not believe it just because they said it. Do you?  Also, do you notice that even the anonymous sources referred to in your link, sources which will never have to answer any questions about their credibility even though they are speaking openly to journalists that know who they are but won’t tell us who they are even if they are found sometime in the future to have been putting out complete bs, those sources do not claim anything as a fact but only what they claim to suspect and a theory why what they suspect might be true.

    Edited to add this link. 

    I would suspect you need Putin's fingerprint on a gun to mostly conclude he did it, while you'll hold any US gov source 10 times in contempt. And Consortium News trumps NYTimes in all cases, Moon over Alabama if need be. Just my observation, from the Ukrainian episode especially. Funny how Yanukovich's handler slid so easily to being Trump's - but it was the other jackboot Kiev leadership side that was all corrupt and scarily neo-Nazi. Still waiting for the pogroms and Erdogan-style suspension of freedoms vs those persecuted freedom fighters in Donbas.

    This is straying too far from Doc's blog. Let's not argue Ukraine here and now.  I will take your bait at some other time and you can then prove that I was wrong in the past saying Ukraine threw out Yanukovich by coup which was spearheaded by right wing fascist neo-Nazi skin-head nationalist paramilitary thugs.  

    I see your Salon article and I raise you one Eric Snowden who concludes that Russia was behind the DNC hack


    Here is the first line of your link with my emphasis added.

    Two former employees of the National Security Agency—including exiled whistleblower Edward Snowden—are speculating that Monday's leak of what are now confirmed to be advanced hacking tools belonging to the US government is connected to the separate high-profile hacks and subsequent leaks of two Democratic group

    Here is the concluding statement.

    As noted throughout this post, attributing Internet hacks is a difficult undertaking that's often prone to error. In the interest of keeping readers apprised of what informed security experts are saying, Ars is providing these opinions as is, with the reminder that they're pure speculation.

    Here is a quote from the article I linked to.

    The press, with the, in my educated opinion, government-supervised New York Times conspicuously in the lead, builds sandcastles atop each of these events. Each is somewhere along the progression — no, regression — described in this space after the DNC’s mail hack: An unsubstantiated assertion with useful political implications is followed by intimations, then more adventurous insinuations. These devolve into a probability, then a belief. After more innuendo, the blur between truth and suggestion is sufficient to state the still-unverified assertion as simple fact.



    LULU you will believe what you want to believe. The Democrats hacked themselves. The only proof would come from Putin's mouth , which will never happen. The US government will go into great detail on how they tracked things to the Russians. 

    I leave you with this from Crowdstrike

    Edit to add:

    Two other security firms agreed with Crowdstrike's findings


    Like anyone else Putin would bluff with a pair of deuces - especially in a game where it doesn't pay to fold. Sure, something juicy would be better, but there's a whole cottage industry of what will be found in Whitewater papers, Travelgate docs, Benghazi emails and testimony, Clinton Foundation docs, DNC emails... Putin just has to feed a very hungry horse and it'll ride, find greener pastures across the sky.

    In fact that's what already happened with the initial leak - there was 0 of consequence but it got the Sanders folks riled , so they repeat for the Trump team.  (2nd Spin: DWS resigned so the emails must have been bad). The permanent anti-Hillary rumor mill is a good investment for Putin - if he does anything in Ukraine, Syria or elsewhere, he'll have a band of cheering sneering rightwingers and far left Dems supporting the worst of the coulda shoulda woulda contentions, writing opinion pieces and voting in Congress and running another investigation or FOIA request.

    I wonder what Daniel Ellsberg thinks of this hacking into personal files and slow leaking of info tied to innuendo and rumor.

    Putin, if it was Putin, just threw one very small carrot to a big flock of horses [yes, I know horses usually run in herds] to try to turn them in a direction we have to hope they will not choose but which right now we are comfortable in the belief that they will not choose. I don't think Putin is stupid so I don't think he would actually risk getting caught trying to tilt our election if he only had a small amount of embarrassing goods to spill. That leads me to think in the direction of Putin not being responsible or else there is more significant information to follow. 

    I am thinking about poker analogies now because  don't think yours is very good. 

    [updated previous comment]

    These are old style Russian collectives horses - a meager carrot or onion root from Vanya gets them moving a long way, through cold winter snows. In the west we've grown soft...

    And since the Republicans control both houses, what's the worst that can happen to Putin trying to throw or tilt the election against Hillary? They won't even vote on Obama's Supreme Court nominee, and they very seldom object to Trump's completely flagrant, easily debunked lies. Why should Putin be worried about exposure?

    Rule #1: feed your chosen advocacy group info it wants tohear, no matter how absurd. They'll do the rest - especially with the wonders of social media and pop-up "analysis" sites which makes the Enquirer look like amateurs.

    GOP goes on CNN and says Trumpisn't losing. Moderator pushes back. Left/Democrats cheer wildly. Right-leaning mainstream America hears "mainstream media lying for Hillary again". We hear what we want to hear.

    Sure, they kiled Seth Rich and Sean Lucas, but Brazille apologized so all's copacetic.

    I mean really, ""there could be worse revelations to come. That suggests she knows there is stuff in that cache showing more direct collusion between the Hillary campaign and her longtime pal Debbie Wasserman Schultz." - what a load of super speculative horseshit.  There wasnt fuckall of consequence in what was released, and pretending Doc Dump 2.0 is going to be the real shit is super minor league, up there with October Surprises I've been hearing about all my life, but usually are as stunning as a cat fart. Glad to know we have our own conspiracy thrill kill kult so we don't have to rely only on the GOP. 

    The October surprise will be that Trump supplied info from his intelligence briefings to Putin.

    Too quaint.


    Perhaps you missed this ad in Soldier of Fortune Magazine


    Hiring operatives of Middle Eastern appearance, ex Mossad/Shin Bet a plus.  Must be fluent in Arabic, esp. Koranic catchphrases, as assignment involves impersonating Islamic Terrorists for brief weekend in November 2016.


    Must be willing to travel to Washington DC.  Proficiency in pyrotechnic a  must as assignment includes construction, placement and detonation of theatrical explosives in and around mise-en-scene.


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    see Hillary's speech today

    By "see" I take it to mean watch with closed captioning, thereby avoiding the excruciating experience of  "hearing" her speech (speak)


    She is  my candidate, my hope, my paladina.


    Just don't make me listen to her voice.


    Can NO ONE make her learn to modulate? 


    This may seem like a trivial point on which to dwell, but Precious Blood of the  Sweet Baby Jesus, she gives fishwives a bad name.




    It sounds like she is trying to split logs using only her voice.

    Oh, grow up!  

    I am so sorry for this but...

    I left this out:


    Ezra Klein has some thoughts about this, too.  The press does not come out smelling like a rose.  They have some major making up to do.

    What the hell? They always take sides. And never apologize, even for outrageous mistakes.

    I just got home and Trump is giving a "speech" about how he is for the underdog and Hillaey is horrible.  I can see that he has gotten some good advice, but all I can think of is that he has gotten Liberace's former hairdresser.  

    He is so crude.

    His "good advice" is from Breitbart.

    For years mainstream media has been cooperating with Drudge, making his vicious backcurrent palatable.

    Trump has run that agreement into the absurdity wall, so the Blitzers and Coopers can't just look the other way.

    So yeah, they'll need to call the Hindenburg the Hindenburg, or risk getting the Truman Show treatment when Jim Carrey starts waking up. Which will make them "partisan".

    What's more a question is how good the ratings will be over 2 1/2 months - will the public stay amused?

    Roughly 80 days from the election, he sees himself losing and decides now is the time to reach out to African-Americans. Trump says that the Democrats take blacks for granted, yet he waits until one minute before midnight to take to the black community. He makes his outreach speech in the most segregated community near Milwaukee. Trump hires a known racist from the racist Breitbart site as campaign CEO. There was a serious discussion of the meaning of Trump's minority outreach hosted by Don Lemon on CNN. Trump is the same racist misogynist that he has always been. Everybody knows this fact whether they are white, black, Latino, Asian, etc.Everyone who supporters Trump will be labeled as supporting a racist. This includes Paul,Ryan and Mitch McConnell.

    Edit to add:

    Trump has rebooted multiple times. If Obama or Hillary had as many missteps as Trump, Don Lemon would have hosted a panel on the new lies being told by the Clinton campaign. 

    I am dying to hear him "reach out" to Mexicans and former POW's.  This guy has demonstrated so many behaviors he could probably also be diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder on top of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder that he obviously has.

    What I can hardly wrap my head around, is how so many people remain undecided in this election.  It really pains me that people who don't listen to her speeches and don't read her policy positions just buy into the "flawed Hillary" assumption that the media promotes.  

    I just saw a blurb from Glen Beck that he thinks Trump will lose and then begin a media empire, going into business with with the Brietbart group, ie:  to the right of FOX with the help of Ailes.

    If you are undecided, you are stupid. OGD had a post noting that Trump was shaking the tree to see which nuts would fall out. We now know that Dr, Drew, a celebrity analyst, is a nitwit who buys into the Hillary is brain-damaged meme. Kellyanne Conway is described as a person who truly wants the GOP to reach out to black voters. Yet she has no problem attaching herself to racists Trump and Bannon. She somehow believes the stench will not cling to her. Paul Ryan is another Republican who "reaches out" to the black community. Robert Woodson, a black Conservative, is a common traveling companion. Now that Ryan has supported Trump, Woodson has invited scrutiny of his activities. Woodson runs the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, a charity that promotes private spending on poverty programs. The organization gets about $4 million annually. Sixty-percent of that money is from US government grants. The organization says that it spends 95% of its income on individuals in poverty. This is a neat trick since Woodson pockets $250K a year as the organization's director. He gets 6% of the funds taken in, leaving 94% for paperclips, staff, and fighting poverty. The take home message is that when you scratch the surface, a significant amount of what a Republican/ Conservative says is a lie.

    Edit to add:

    Here is an excellent takedown of Dr. Drew Pinsky's medical misinformation regarding Hillary


    I suspect they'll discover he's a womanizer and turn on him like they did Bill Clinton. Just kidding. 

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