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Shame on Liberal Journalists For Running With Baseless Election ‘Hack’ Story

You may think that the reason Hillary Clinton lost the election was because she failed to excite the Obama coalition, failed completely to campaign in contested states like Wisconsin and Michigan, and chose to actively ignore the rural, working class voters being courted by Donald Trump.

Those are good guesses, with empirical data behind them. But no, it turns out the real reason Clinton lost was… (dun dun dun!) HACKERS.

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Yep, that’s where we’re at, apparently.

The backround is that the Clinton campaign apparently held a conference call with a group of professors and experts and discussed potentially contesting the result of the election. In particular, the experts urged Clinton to contest the states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. That somehow got leaked to New York Magazine, which set off a series of stories at outlets like New York Daily News. (Note: I pick a lot on NYDN in this piece because that’s where I first encountered this turd of a story, but I could have just as easily picked on The Huffington Post, Slate, The Guardian, etc.)

There is only one “fact” cited in the original NY Mag piece that would point to hacking, and that was immediately debunked by actual experts (per Nate Silver it doesn’t even “pass the sanity test,” Dave Wasserman calls it “pathetic”). Remarkably, the NYDN piece repeats the sole “evidence” of hacking, and then completely debunks it two paragraphs later.

Members of the group told the Clinton camp that in Wisconsin, Clinton’s vote count was down 7% in counties that relied on electronic voting machines when compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots, the magazine said.

A statistical analysis showed that under those circumstances, Clinton may have been denied as many as 30,000 votes. Clinton lost the state — and its 10 Electoral College votes by 27,000 votes.

Wisconsin’s metropolitan areas, where Clinton did well, use paper ballots. Rural Wisconsin, where she did not, relies on electronic machines.

So Clinton’s vote was down 7% in Wisconsin counties with electronic voting… and counties with electronic voting were also the ones most likely to vote against Clinton. In other words, literally nothing is suspicious about the election results.

Let’s continue:

The group apparently has no proof of hacking, but said the suspicious pattern is enough for an independent review.

I’m sorry, what was that?

The group apparently has no proof of hacking…

And what was the headline?

Election Results May Have Been Hacked

This is outrageous. Apparently, making an allegation while admitting you have zero evidence is now enough to warrant a headline saying criminal activity “may” have happened.

In that case, I implore NYDN to run headlines saying their editors “may” be paid Democratic operatives. After all, here I am, alleging it. And apparently politically-motivated allegations without a shred of evidence are now the sort of stories that get reported on as the gospel truth.

Suppose Trump had lost. Suppose then that Trump’s election team went around shopping a story blaming his election loss on mysterious “hackers.” Suppose the explanations for the data discrepancies were extremely obvious to anyone who spent more than five minutes looking over them. And suppose this all happened after Trump promised during a debate to accept the results of the election.

Does anyone think those accusations would have been treated with even an ounce of credibility, or as though they “may” be true? I think we all know that those allegations would have received media coverage, certainly. But completely different words and phrases would be attached to the allegations: “disturbing,” “baseless,” “pathetic,” “laughable,” “beyond the pale,” “attack on our democracy,” “potentially libelous,” etc.

Shame on NY Mag. Shame on NYDN. Shame on every reporter who uncritically passed along this embarrassment of a story and shame on every editor who approved it. I expected conspiracies theories in the wake of the election, because I honestly understand the pain and confusion many people felt when Trump won. But I didn’t expect anyone in the media to fully embrace them.

Most of all, shame on the Clinton campaign and her supporters for even entertaining this crackpot theory. You know, those same people who were horrified, simply horrified by Donald Trump’s allegations that the election was rigged? Turns out the same people who spent months trying to get Trump to say that he would accept the election results had no intention of doing so if Clinton lost. Turns out the loudest voices denouncing “Fake News” aren’t above conjuring some themselves.

At least a few liberals were at least somewhat self-aware that they were contradicting themselves, leading to hilarious tweets like this:

Oh, so there was a vast international conspiracy to make it look like clueless liberal celebrities are hypocrites. They actually aren’t. Got it.

There were all sorts of dumb conspiratorial freakouts that caught fire on the right after the disappointing 2008 and 2012 elections, but those never found their way into anything other than the most fringe outlets. The Birtherism of 2016 got a megaphone because it appealed to the biases of reporters and editors in a way that anti-Clinton and anti-Obama conspiracies didn’t.

Deep down, many reporters want this story to be true. Why let a let a little thing like “proof” get in the way of a good narrative?

[Image via Shutterstock]

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This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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