By Brian Fahy & Garrett Fahy
A seismic shift is underway in how Americans, especially younger Americans, consume news. The changes may radically increase political accountability and undermine the old media’s role as protector-in-chief of dishonest Democrats.
Pew Research recently reported that 62% of American adults get news on social media and 66% of Facebook users get their news from Facebook. And while Pew reports that only 24% of Americans are looking at the candidates’ social media posts, nearly 40% of Americans 18 to 29 review candidates’ social media accounts.
Pew Research also notes that 38% of adults get news online and only 20% get it in print, and younger adults (18-49) are getting 50% of their news online. And for good reason: online news sources are quick to break news, responsive to news updates, and (some) are quick to call out lies from the old media and dishonest politicians.
This is bad news for Nixonesque politicians like Hillary Clinton. Consider the recent example of Hillary’s attempts to mislead the country on her coughing, fainting and pneumonia.
While she and her media defenders claimed for weeks that she was fine, and was just exhausted from the campaign, the old media force field around her (New York Times, Washington Post, ABC and NBC) crumbled after the truth came out on social media, and it’s not hard to understand why.
Assume Pew Research is right: you’re a millennial following Hillary’s or her campaign’s posts or tweets when her health was questioned. Based on Hillary’s social media updates, you would have thought everything was fine. But then on Facebook or YouTube you saw the amateur video showing Hillary almost fainting after a 9/11 anniversary event in mild weather. Or maybe you were one of the millions of people who watched the YouTube video suggesting that Hillary’s symptoms are really indicative of Parkinson’s disease.
We already know Hillary lied about her email use. But if Hillary lied about her pneumonia and her fainting, what other issues, health related or otherwise, will she lie about? In the credibility war of the 21st century, as we saw with the Benghazi footage, video trumps every time (no pun intended).
Was it just happenstance that the 9/11 video pierced the media veil, forced the old media to report the truth, and forced Hillary to, against her will, release more of her medical records this week? Not quite.
According to Gallup, only 32 percent of Americans have a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in the media. Ignoring the obvious question – who are these 32 percent? – the bigger point is that as a result of Hillary’s deceptions, and the old media’s furthering of her deceptions, Americans are willing to look for and trust news from other, non-traditional outlets.
Moreover, the growing trend towards online/app news also explains why 72% of Americans get their news from a mobile device, and 55% of smartphone users (probably except Hillary) get news alerts and about half of them follow up for more information. (Hillary can’t click on news alerts as her aides have smashed all 13 of her smartphones.)
The results of this convergence, new media consumption against old Hillary habits, are clear: according to the New York Times, only 33 percent of America thinks Hillary is trustworthy and only 36 percent of America sees Hillary as a change agent. According to the Huffington Post’s Huffpost Pollster, Hillary boasts a 56% unfavorable rating, which was confirmed by Gallup’s newest poll.
And the effects are being felt in critical swing states: Trump has taken the lead in Ohio, North Carolina and Florida, and has pulled even in Colorado. It’s hardly good news for Hillary as early voting begins in some states next weekend and the first presidential debate looms on September 26.
Does all this mean Hillary will lose the election in November? No. She may, with the help of her old media supplicants, win the battle. But in the long run, the old media and the Democrats they habitually protect will likely lose the information war, perhaps one silver lining in this sometimes dispiriting election season.
Brian & Garrett Fahy are attorneys in Southern California who write on politics. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.