We don’t know who the 2020 Democratic nominee for president will be. For that matter, we don’t even know for sure that Donald Trump will still be sufficiently not-in-handcuffs to serve as the 2020 Republican nominee. We’re still a long way away from the election, with more questions than answers. But it’s already looking like the 2020 election is going to come down to one thing in particular.
For all of the twists and turns and antics and shenanigans in the 2016 election, it ultimately all came down to one factor: the mainstream media uniformly pretended that the Hillary Clinton email scandal – a partisan farce cooked up by the Republicans in Congress and furthered by Republican buffoons like James Comey – was an actual Hillary Clinton scandal. Nothing else ultimately made a difference.
You want proof? Despite all the Russian meddling, all the voter suppression, all the primary squabbles, and everything else that took place, Clinton was still comfortably ahead in the polls with two weeks to go. Then Comey wrote a letter which falsely implied that Clinton was under investigation over her emails, and the media treated that letter as if it were truthful even though they all knew it wasn’t, and suddenly Clinton’s lead in the polls fell to just a few points. That turned out to be a small enough lead that Trump was able to win the electoral college despite losing the popular vote by those few points.
If the media hadn’t spent the election trying to score cheap and easy ratings by pretending that a fake scandal about the 2016 frontrunner was real, Trump wouldn’t be in the White House right now. Yes, that election is in the past and can’t be changed. But it matters greatly, because here we are in 2020, and a fake scandal about the frontrunner is once again front and center. This time the frontrunner is Joe Biden, and the scandal is the Ukraine thing, but we’re seeing history rhyming with itself in haunting fashion.
So what’s this election going to come down to? Thus far the mainstream media – or at least the outlets that matter – are almost uniformly treating the Ukraine thing as a Trump criminal scandal, while giving no credence to the phony Biden scandal that Trump manufactured. Trump has gone to extraordinary (and criminal) lengths to try to give legs to the fake Biden scandal, and you can see his exasperation right now as he whines on Twitter that the media isn’t doing his bidding for him.
It ultimately doesn’t matter how Fox News covers this; those folks are going to vote a certain way no matter what. It matters how CNN, the New York Times, MSNBC, the Washington Post, and other respectable major news outlets cover it. That’s the audience who will decide the election. If these news outlets get desperate for ratings and begin pretending the fake Biden scandal is real, or start treating it as a “Trump said, Biden said” situation without bothering to include the facts about who’s lying, then voters will be misled into staying home instead of turning out for Biden – just as they were misled into staying home in 2016 instead of turning out for Clinton.
This scenario also pretty much holds true if someone other than Joe Biden ends up being the 2020 Democratic nominee. If someone like Elizabeth Warren or Pete Buttigieg ends up being the nominee, and has to face Donald Trump in the general election while the media is either pretending that Trump didn’t commit treason or that Trump is somehow the victim in the Ukraine scandal, it’ll hand a huge unfair advantage to Trump.
The good news is that, while the media’s truthfulness about the Trump-Ukraine scandal will largely decide the next election, the media doesn’t necessarily decide how it gets to cover the scandal. If you see a major news outlet drifting toward pretending that the real Trump-Ukraine scandal is fake, or that the fake Biden-Ukraine scandal is real, you can pressure that news outlet into coming back toward the truth by turning the channel and then letting them know on social media why you did it. The 2020 election will come down to one thing: you.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report