Take a recent NPR recent story, “Ohio Trump Supporters on What They Think Biden’s Presidency Might Bring” (All Things Considered, 11/9/20). Reporter Andy Chow went to interview residents in an Ohio county where 66% of voters supported Trump. He found three Trump supporters to put on air to say things like, “They’re ready to tax the crap out of us—the Democrats are,” and noted that all “[made] it known that they’re not convinced Biden will end up in the White House on January 20.” One Biden supporter was interviewed. With no effort made to evaluate whether Trump supporters’ convictions or proclamations have any basis in reality, what is the function of such a report besides to reinforce them?
Meanwhile, notice that in Pope’s account, reporters have nothing to learn about the Black, brown and immigrant America that overwhelmingly voted for Biden, that is under direct attack by Trump’s policies, and that does not have the privilege of having its perspectives promoted incessantly, either by the most powerful person in the country or on television, radio and social media. Nor do they have anything to learn about the working-class white America that does not support Trump, or about the nearly one-third of the voting-eligible population that doesn’t vote at all.
The whole framing of the problem is wrong here. We already know plenty about “the America [Trump] has laid bare.” Journalism’s deepest failure hasn’t been its lack of attention to Trump supporters; it has been its inability to stop normalizing Trump and Trumpism—of which the uncritical Trump supporter stories are part and parcel.Drawing All the Wrong Lessons From Media’s Election 2020 Failures — FAIR