The Great Fake Out: Mainstream Media And Election 2016

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Kevin Kimberlin Chairman, Spencer Trask & Company
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Embarrassing fake news, the Green Party recount, Donald Trump scolding the media elite; one thing is clear from this election: the media cabal lost big time. While publishers pride themselves on being balanced reporters, our new “self-broadcaster-elect” (Donald Trump) kept them off balance throughout the campaign. Missing the true signal lost in the noise has dented their credibility and put them on the wrong side of the biggest upset in memory.

From his humble cell phone ‘broadcast station,’ Trump sent messages around the world in an instant. Twittering enabled him to send (and see) signals that the pollsters at CNN or MSNBC or The New York Times overlooked. Their reporters, editors and commentators saw what they wanted to see. They fell for their own biases. Therefore, they ended up promoting self-reinforcing un-truths.

Until the results came in.

As an example, the media elite had us believe that Trump’s controversial campaign thrived largely on negative attention.

But an independent analysis conducted by social media analytics company Moodwire, distilled from 20,000 media sources over the nine months prior to the election, reveals something quite different, something that was not obvious. Quite simply, Donald Trump gleaned more positive support, on average, than did Hillary Clinton throughout the campaign.

The opposite also holds true. Contrary to popular opinion, negative commentary about Hillary Clinton, was far greater than Donald Trump’s negatives. In other words, he was consistently liked more and she was consistently disliked more.

Virtually every source of mainstream content missed this salient fact. Yet it should have been the headline. One has to wonder if it is because the truth did not fit the leanings of the mainstream media.

Listening honestly to the crowd in real-time is a new way to poll. It can offset the tendency we all have to believe our own horse feathers. In the next election, the media, pollsters and politicians themselves should listen more carefully. To avoid the shock and trauma of missing the point, hopefully they will looking for facts, not justifications. Times are changing, and so is how we get our news.

Kevin Kimberlin is the Chairman of Spencer Trask & Co., an advanced technology development firm based in Greenwich, CT. Throughout his career, Kimberlin has played a role in founding or first funding some of the most profound discoveries in science and technology, including: voice and data phones, genetics, open innovation, immunotherapeutics, stem cells, mobile legal search, patient healthcare, and many others. Kimberlin is a self-proclaimed obsessive missionary who helps entrepreneurs turn their big ideas into world leading ventures that change the world.