- The Washington Times - Friday, March 10, 2017

Pollster Nate Silver took the media to task on Friday in his website’s ongoing autopsy of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The man who predicted the winner of all 50 states in the 2012 election says a “liberal media bubble” that mainly encompasses New York and Washington, D.C., prevented journalists from considering the possibility of an Election Day win for Republican Donald Trump. FiveThirtyEight’s “There Really Was A Liberal Media Bubble” is the ninth installment on how President Trump defied conventional wisdom to win the White House.

“Political experts aren’t a very diverse group and tend to place a lot of faith in the opinions of other experts and other members of the political establishment,” Mr. Silver wrote. “Once a consensus view is established, it tends to reinforce itself until and unless there’s very compelling evidence for the contrary position. Social media, especially Twitter, can amplify the groupthink further. It can be an echo chamber.”

The number-cruncher went on to note multiple other factors that led to media groupthink and outlets that weren’t “contemplating the possibility of a Trump victory.” Some include:

  • A lack of racial and gender diversity in newsrooms.
  • A lack of political diversity. “As of 2013, only 7 percent of them identified as Republicans.”
  • A hostility within the industry to “data journalists.”
  • The media echo chamber is growing. “The share of total exposure for the top five news sources climbed from roughly 25 percent a decade ago to around 35 percent last year, and has spiked to above 40 percent so far in 2017. While not a perfect measure, this is one sign the digital age hasn’t necessarily democratized the news media.”

Only two of 59 major newspapers endorsed Mr. Trump prior to the election, Mr. Silver said, before offering his advice for journalists.

“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.”

The pollster added that a “revival of local and regional newspapers” would also combat the inclination toward a herd mentality.

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