Wednesday, November 9, 2016

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: The Mutiny Succeeded; The Coup Failed

The Prairie Editor brought two phrases into the 2016
presidential election. The first was the “mutiny of the
the second was a “media coup d’etat.” I was
correct about both of them, but neither of these phrases
was more than a diagnostic until the election was actually

Now we know that the mutiny succeeded, and the coup failed.

I did not endorse Donald Trump in print, nor did I, at the
outset of the 2016 campaign cycle, think he could be
nominated, much less win the presidency. But later in the
primary/caucus season, after Mr. Trump kept winning in
spite of widespread exclamations that he could not, I realized
that he was connecting to an authentic phenomenon, that is,
a profound mutiny among many voters who had reached their
limit of tolerance for the political and media establishments
on both ideological sides. I did not waver in this diagnosis, but
not until the final days of the campaign did I realize that the
mutiny would succeed.

At the same time, I became alarmed at what I perceived as an
irresponsible pattern in my own profession of journalism, that
is, what I considered an unacceptable bias in both major print
and broadcast news reporting for one presidential nominee
over another. I did not criticize editorial or opinion writers and
broadcasters, but I did perceive the news reporting side of
much (but not all) of the U.S. media was exceeding its proper
role and attempting to predetermine the election outcome.
It was, in effect, I thought, a media coup d’etat.

The election of Donald Trump as president of the United
States should be no cause for gloating by those who supported
him, nor for those who, like myself, sympathetically explained
and analyzed his candidacy. As I wrote in my election eve post
on this website, the next president faces enormous challenges
and obstacles, and now President-elect Trump must work
quickly to begin to deal with the problems and crises which
will surely come ahead.

The mutiny of the masses, in spite of having succeeded in the
election of Mr. Trump, is not concluded. He and the U.S.
Congress, now controlled by his party, must respond to the
legitimate grievances of the mutineers. Mr. Trump’s election
has been a shock to the system, and hopefully a catalyst for
transformation of a worn out system of ways to do the
public business. Government transparency is now an
immediate requirement. Failure to provide it will only provoke
another mutiny.

The media establishment, both on the left and the right, need
to take a hard look at how they perform their roles in a free
country. They have, for the time being, lost much of the
confidence many Americans have historically put in them,
especially the expectation that news reporting would have
fairness and balance. Print, radio and TV editorial journalists
should continue to express their opinions freely, but the media
establishments need to recognize that, in the phrase I have
consistently used, “The front page is not the editorial page.”
Only when this is observed will the American public
confidence in the establishment media be restored.

President-elect Trump and his incoming administration will
face a problematic world, domestic and foreign, when they
take office on January 20 next. Their brief celebration of
hard-earned victory is understandable, and Mr. Trump’s
historic achievement needs to be acknowledged. But now
comes the difficult part.

The voters have had their say. Now it’s time for action and

Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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