One episode out of a million: As we type, Hillary Clinton has expanded her lead in the popular vote to roughly 860,000 votes, with votes still being counted.
As Kellyanne Conway parades around citing the "mandate" received by Trump, this is a serious news topic. On Sunday, The Atlantic published an actual news report concerning the ongoing count.
The Atlantic's actual news report contained some real information. The Atlantic's Andrew McGill linked to David Wasserman, an editor at Cook Political Report who is tracking turnout. According to McGill, Wasserman "estimates that Clinton could be ahead by 2 percentage points in the popular vote" by the time all the counting is done.
We don't know where the count will end up, but this is an important news topic. Along with the rest of our systems and practices, it seems that the Electoral College is starting to break down.
On Sunday, The Atlantic offered some real reporting about the ongoing count. As we noted yesterday, the New York Times' Amy Chozick played Goofus concerning this topic in her own front-page news report.
As we noted yesterday, we were struck by another factual claim in Chozick's front-page report. Her language went something like this:
CHOZICK (11/13/16): Before Mrs. Clinton spoke on Saturday, her finance director, Dennis Cheng, thanked the donors on the call, each of whom had raised at least $100,000. The campaign brought in nearly $1 billion to spend heavily on data efforts, to disperse hundreds of staff members to battleground states, and to air television advertisements—only to fall short to Mr. Trump’s upstart operation."The campaign brought in nearly $1 billion?" We thought back to one of Chozick's characteristic fails.
It was April 11, 2015. The Times still hadn't published its gong-show report about the scary uranium deal; that would come at the end of the month. But on April 11, out of nowhere, Chozick and Haberman published an unsourced assertion:
CHOZICK/HABERMAN (4/11/15): But even as Mrs. Clinton attempts to set aside her celebrity and offer herself as a fighter for ordinary voters, her finance team and the outside groups supporting her candidacy have started collecting checks in what is expected to be a $2.5 billion effort, dwarfing the vast majority of her would-be rivals in both parties.There Mrs. Clinton went again! She was trying to seem like one of Us. But her team had started collecting checks which would total $2.5 trillion!
As usual, Chozick offered no source for her snark-ridden claim. But so what? One day later, you-know-who swung into action in a snarky column headlined "Grandmama Mia!"
DOWD (4/12/15): On the eve of her campaign launch, [Clinton] released an updated epilogue to her banal second memoir, “Hard Choices,” highlighting her role as a grandmother.Within one day, the unsourced claim had been rated "obscene." Around the crackpot conservative world, every blogger and his funder began to scream about the vast obscene sum.
“I’m more convinced than ever that our future in the 21st century depends on our ability to ensure that a child born in the hills of Appalachia or the Mississippi Delta or the Rio Grande Valley grows up with the same shot at success that Charlotte will,” she wrote, referring to her granddaughter.
This was designed to rebut critics who say she’s too close to Wall Street and too grabby with speech money and foundation donations from Arab autocrats to wage a sincere fight against income inequality.
But if Hillary really wants to help those children, maybe she should give them some of the ostensible and obscene $2.5 billion that she is planning to spend to persuade us to make her grandmother of our country.
Chozick repeated her unsourced claim in an April 15 news report. On April 17, the editors of the New York Times complained about all the unfairness and ugliness which now surrounded the claim:
THE EDITORS (4/17/15): Deanna Alexander, a member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, has apparently begun calling Hillary Clinton "Ovary." On Wednesday, she tweeted:Ovary Clinton had set a ridiculous goal of $2.5 billion! The fun had begun with a sad subhuman in Wisconsin, had apparently spread to Rush.
Did Ovary's campaign REALLY set a $2.5 BILLION goal just for her own #POTUS run? Yet SHE claims there's too much $ in politics? Sheesh #tcot
—Deanna Alexander (@DAinWIS)15 Apr 15
If Ovary's campaign spends its $2.5 Billion goal, that's $20.00 +/- for every single voter in America. She's desperate. @rushlimbaugh #tcot
—Deanna Alexander (@DAinWIS)15 Apr 15
Via The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
"Alexander, who is considered a possible candidate for the state Senate, said she found it interesting that people have jumped to the conclusion that she was referring to Hillary Clinton when she discussed 'Ovary's campaign.' She noted that Time Magazine ran a 'sexist' article on the former secretary of state earlier this month by suggesting that Clinton is ready to run for president now that she's past menopause."
Two days later, Patrick Healy reported more of the good solid fun on the trail:
HEALY (4/19/15): Mr. Rubio offered ambitious ideas for restructuring the nation's higher education system, such as having colleges tell students how much money they might earn with certain degrees before they take out loans. But first, he warmed up the crowd by noting that Mrs. Clinton might try to raise as much as $2.5 billion for her campaign.Healy didn't address the accuracy of the claim, for which no source had been given. By the end of May, the Times was reporting that the Clinton campaign had pushed back against it:
''That's a lot of Chipotle, my friends,'' he said to laughter.
LICHTBLAU/CONFESSORE (5/31/15): Inflated estimates of Mrs. Clinton's campaign budget—a figure of $2.5 billion was widely circulated—have also been a headache for her campaign and for Priorities USA. A more realistic fund-raising target for her campaign, they say, is around $1 billion.According to Lichtblau and Confessore, some bad acid had been going around in the form of an "inflated estimate."
The inflated estimate had been "widely circulated." The fellows forgot to say where the inflated claim got its start.
The inflated estimate got its start in Chozick's unsourced report. Dowd called it "obscene" the next day. Within days, the whole world was watching.
This was a fairly minor episode in this long, appalling, gong-show campaign. That said, a mathematical certainty obtains:
A million such episodes, all tilted one way, add up to a "narrative." After a million such episodes, a candidate has been "defined."
When we saw Chozick's report this Sunday, we thought back to her initial unsourced statement. Her "inflated estimate" traveled around the world. Last Sunday morning, the campaign done, the truth finally got its pants on.
Our Electoral College system seems to be breaking down. By way of contrast, the New York Times broke down long ago. It's just that the children aren't willing to tell you.
Dearest darlings! Use your heads! It simply isn't done!