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Former Massey Energy CEO, and now former U.S. Senate candidate, Don Blankenship appears before the Senate to discuss safety in the wake of an explosion that killed 29 people at one of his mines

Mainstream Media Still Doesn’t Get It

Overhyped U.S. Senate Hopeful In West Virginia Who Was Alarmingly “Surging” According To Several Reputable News Organizations Loses To Not One, But Two Other Candidates In Republican Primary.

Of course we’re talking about Don Blankenship, who you’ve seen all over the place in the past few weeks. He of “Cocaine Mitch”, and “Chinapeople” and this ad:

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But the infamous coal executive who spent a year in federal prison for his role in safety violations that contributed to the deaths of 29 miners in a 2010 explosion, came in 3rd out of 3 major candidates.

So how did mainstream media get it so wrong? Again?!

They’ll say Blankenship lost all that momentum after Trump posted a Tweet urging Republicans to vote for anyone but him. And maybe we’re underestimating the impact of that. Maybe.

But as fivethirtyeight’s Nate Silver explains, there’s at least one other factor to examine: many news organizations used leaks of “internal polls” as their evidence the race was close, or even that Blankenship was winning. That basically means they talked to someone from Blankenship’s campaign (or one of the other campaigns) who told them that. We hate to single folks out, because the list is a lot longer, but here are a few examples: MSNBC, Politico, The Hill. So that’s something to consider.

Here’s what we think happened: Blankenship provided the best “entertainment value” in the judgment of the media executives who run TV news, and the marketing people who largely run all online news sites. Entertainment = ratings/clicks. Not a far stretch to also (incorrectly) surmise Entertainment = votes. But they thought they learned that from Trump.

That’s why Blankenship was “mistaken” for Trump. That’s why respectable news organisations. cited “internal polls”. We won’t call it “fake news”, because we don’t really think they meant to be deliberately misleading. They’re just still trying to figure 2016 out and don’t want to give Trump singular credit for being Trump.

But it’s reckless.

Blankenship was like a TV show you could tell was gonna be a flop from the previews. Trump is Roseanne. The fact that mainstream media still can’t see the difference is crazy.

Written by

Peabody award winning journalist. Streaming media pioneer. Played @ CBGB back in the day. Editor-In-Chief "The Chaos Report"

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