The margins are still shifting around. But the majority of the votes now counted, Gavin Newsom is currently ahead by a whopping twenty-eight points in the California recall race. It’s a clear vindication of Newsom, and clear confirmation that no recall election was warranted to begin with. It also makes clear that the Democrats are capable of driving huge turnout and have serious momentum heading into other upcoming elections. And of course it’s the latest proof that as long as the Republicans keep relying on the Trump playbook, they’ll continue to shoot themselves in the foot.
Just don’t tell any of that to CNN. Last night, even as Newsom was pulling ahead in spectacular fashion, new CNN hire Kasie Hunt was busy semi-incoherently tweeting Newsom’s huge victory was somehow… bad news for the Democrats in the midterms? Her logic, if there was any to be found, was that because a recall election took place at all, it meant Democrats are in bad shape. Nevermind the fact that it’s painfully easy to force a recall election in California to happen.
Then there’s CNN’s Chris Cillizza, who published an article today declaring that the recall election was “a very good night for Larry Elder’s political future.” The logic? Trump’s base turned out for Elder, therefore Elder is now magically invincible. Nevermind the fact that the recall election once again proved that Trump’s base alone is far too small to help the Republicans win anything, as evidenced by the fact that millions more people voted to save Newsom than voted to replace him.
Of course this is the same CNN which has seen Jake Tapper spend all year incrementally trending into absurdist territory in the name of playing both sides. So whatever is wrong at CNN right now, it’s not limited to any specific personnel; it’s an overall trend. And when you consider that Tapper appears to be trying to copycat the “both sides” approach that Chuck Todd has patented on MSNBC, it’s clear that these troubles aren’t merely limited to just one cable news network.
The problem of course is that the media has seen its ratings collapse ever since Donald Trump lost badly and became irrelevant, and no one is quite sure how to get their ratings back up. Different news outlets have tried different approaches. But CNN seems stuck on the strategy of trying to scare liberal viewers into staying tuned in by convincing them that the Democrats are going to lose no matter what, that good news is really bad news, that Biden is doomed, and a 28 point win for the Democrats means the Republicans are somehow in the driver seat.
The bigger problem isn’t just that CNN is clowning itself. It’s that if you allow yourself to fall for these semi-fictional doomsday narratives, it can end up demotivating you. Right now you should be super motivated and excited to fight the next big election battle in Virginia this November, given how thoroughly you won last night’s battle. But CNN would have you believe that last night was a loss for you, and that you’re going to lose the next battle no matter what. We can’t afford to get sidetracked by the media’s ratings games. The stakes are simply too high. We won big, we have the momentum, and now we have to work hard to win the next one. Winning consists of volunteering, phone banking, donating, and getting out the vote – not staring at cable news as they try to convince us we’re all doomed.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report