Dumb thing #1: “we must understand and convince hard core Trump voters”. The latest example of this is a Politico piece that found some of the dumbest and saddest Trump voters in Appalachia.:
[…]polling continues to show that—in spite of unprecedented unpopularity—nearly all people who voted for Trump would do it again. But as I compared this year’s answers to last year’s responses it seemed clear that the basis of people’s support had morphed. Johnstown voters do not intend to hold the president accountable for the nonnegotiable pledges he made to them. It’s not that the people who made Trump president have generously moved the goalposts for him. It’s that they have eliminated the goalposts altogether.
This reality ought to get the attention of anyone who thinks they will win in 2018 or 2020 by running against Trump’s record. His supporters here, it turns out, are energized by his bombast and his animus more than any actual accomplishments.
Here’s the thing: No one will win in 2018 or 2020 by trying to convert the most hardcore of Trump supporters. That isn’t how elections are won. It never has been: Herbert Hoover, in the depths of the Great Depression, held about 80 percent of his vote from the previous election. You can imagine stories going deep into Hoover country quoting diehard Hooverites explaining away their president’s failures. But Hoover still lost his reelection bid in a landslide.
Or take Tuesday’s elections in Virginia. The massive Democratic victory was driven, among other things, by a surge in turnout from suburban districts that leaned Democratic in 2016, but swung harder blue in 2017. The northern Virginia suburbs delivered 64 percent of their vote to Hillary Clinton last year and 68 percent to Ralph Northam this year. A 4 percentage point swing toward the Democratic candidate in 2020 wouldn’t require converting any hardcore Trump enthusiasts, but it would bury his reelection campaign.
The second dumb thing is the Times’ social media policy, and how their general over-reaction to criticism leads to susceptibility to trolling. Jay Rosen has a long piece on this, here’s a taste:
But when it comes to social media, Dean Baquet has inexplicably chosen a different path. His view: The newsroom should be disciplined and guided, not by what’s true or verifiable as fact, not by what Times journalists believe in their bones, but by the things hostile critics might say upon discovery of a voicey tweet. This decision is a disaster, not because the right to commit snark is vital to preserve (it isn’t…) but because the Times, to be great, has to be great on all platforms, and there is no way that will happen if social media policy is grounded in impression management and conflict avoidance, rather than truthtelling, leveling with readers, and the flicker of magic in the human voice.
The New York Times and the Washington Post are known to keep a close watch on each other. Dean Baquet should be asking himself: why isn’t the Post choking and wheezing on its social media policy? Why is he spending entire days trying to discipline his troops? Is Marty Baron investing his time that way? I doubt it. Baron and the Post exude confidence— in their reporting and the voices that bring it to life on other platforms.
Meanwhile, the Times seems more concerned that Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman will lose access to… well, that’s the problem. Access to what? If it’s this kind of journalism — and stenography would be a fair and accurate term for this text — then something is very wrong in the hierarchy of the New York Times. And that again returns to Baquet, who is being outplayed by his rival, Marty Baron at the Post.