Media Buzz

Why those in media bubble never got Trump's rise – and still don't

President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, March 10, 2017, during a meeting on healthcare. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, March 10, 2017, during a meeting on healthcare. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)  (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

This just in: There really is a liberal media elite that dwell in an isolated bubble.

And that, in turn, causes a disconnect from reality, as we saw during the 2016 campaign and which continues during the opening weeks of the Trump presidency.

Now data guru Nate Silver, who stumbled last year, has copped to the media’s tendency toward groupthink.

Silver hits on many of the themes that I’ve been talking about for a long time, and which many conservatives instinctively believe without wielding his number-crunching skills.

He now says on 538 that journalists have a hard time coping with something that is unthinkable, which is how most in the media biz viewed Donald Trump’s election. That was equally true during the primaries, as I remember from endless on-air debates in which I insisted the billionaire had a good shot, only to be told he would implode the next day, the next week, the next month.

If you immerse yourself in the mainstream coverage now, it often seems the administration is on the verge of collapse. But we learned on Friday that the economy created 235,000 jobs in February—“beating expectations,” in Wall Street lingo. Trump may or may not deserve credit for the drop to 4.7 unemployment, but the stock market surge does reflect growing economic optimism, and that matters more to many voters than who met with which Russian envoy.

Remember when the New York Times every day would say that Hillary Clinton had a 92 percent, or 91 percent, or 95 percent chance of winning? And there would be stories about her pushing into red states to aim for a landslide? It wasn’t that long ago.

Let’s go to Silver’s data: “For starters, American newsrooms are not very diverse along racial or gender lines, and it’s not clear the situation is improving much. And in a country where educational attainment is an increasingly important predictor of cultural and political behavior, some 92 percent of journalists have college degrees.”

So people trying to get by in this economy with a high school education are culturally alien.

“As of 2013, only 7 percent of them identified as Republicans (although only 28 percent called themselves Democrats with the majority saying they were independents).” No shocker there.

“The political news industry has become increasingly consolidated in Washington and New York as local newspapers have suffered from a decade-long contraction.” And fewer reporters head into flyover country to talk to actual voters.

When you throw social media into the mix, journalists are often tweeting at each other about polls and prognostication, which reverberates on cable news and across the web.

Silver’s best shot at breaking the cycle is “That leaves independence. In some ways the best hope for a short-term fix might come from an attitudinal adjustment: Journalists should recalibrate themselves to be more skeptical of the consensus of their peers. That’s because a position that seems to have deep backing from the evidence may really just be a reflection from the echo chamber.”

I wish my profession could escape from the echo chamber, or at least lower its volume. Some news outlets have made greater efforts to talk to Trump voters about their concerns. But the groupthink still seems rather powerful right now.

Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of "MediaBuzz" (Sundays 11 a.m.). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.