As someone who has worked in Republican politics throughout my career, I have experienced media bias firsthand for years. But during the Trump era it has reached a new level of hysteria.
Disdain for the president combined with their preexisting bias has blinded much of the media to the point that they are unable to see things clearly. They feed off of each other instead of looking outside of their liberal bubble, rendering them useless in understanding the electorate or political prognosticating. The coverage of the special election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District underscores that point.
Just like the Montana special election that Republican Greg Gianforte went on to win, the Georgia special election was overhyped. The liberal media desperately billed the race as a referendum on President Trump and a bellwether for the 2018 midterm elections. A Jon Ossoff win would be evidence the president was going to wreak havoc on Republicans and it would doom their plans to pass healthcare and tax reform.
But even prior to the Georgia election, there was no evidence to back up the idea the president was dragging Republicans down. Republicans had already won four special elections and many candidates in 2016 outperformed the president on the ballot. Yes the president's approval ratings are low, but Trump and Republicans swept 2016 under similar circumstances. Voters didn't care about who they liked, they cared about who was going to get things done for them.
Special elections are also special for a reason and not necessarily a good indicator of the electorate. While I was working at the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2010, we had lost multiple special elections in a row prior to taking back the House by gaining 63 seats. The media should know better than to overhype them. We are also an eternity away from Nov. 6, 2018, and no one knows what the electorate will look like.
Leading up to the special election, there were also articles highlighting vulnerabilities for Republicans in college-educated suburban districts like Georgia's 6th CD. While suburban districts, which is where swing voters live, tend to be competitive regardless of who the president is, it was never mentioned that President Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the suburbs and outperformed Mitt Romney.
As the Cook Political Report wrote in their "The Story of the Suburbs" article on Nov. 14, 2016, "The media has paid a lot of attention throughout the campaign and afterward on rural and working-class white America. Not nearly as much attention has been spent on suburban America, whose college-educated white voters (especially white women) were supposed to provide Hillary Clinton a bulwark to big losses among the white working class. Instead, these voters abandoned Clinton too. Mitt Romney carried the suburbs by 2 points — Trump carried them by 5 points."
Unfortunately for voters they are witnessing many in the media who subscribe to a group-think mentality which is blinded by the narrative they want to be true rather than the truth itself. The National Journal's Josh Kraushaar astutely picks up on that writing, "The big tell that the race wasn't as favorable for Democrats as the early conventional wisdom was when Ossoff's paid messaging never mentioned Trump, and barely mentioned the GOP's health care efforts—despite the uproar against both in Washington. Democrats saw polling, confirmed by good shoe-leather reporting, that the district's skepticism of Trump was not nearly as red-hot as most people expected based on cable news coverage."
One would hope the media would finally learn some lessons, but they didn't after being wrong about the 2016 election so there is every reason to be skeptical.
Lisa Boothe is a contributing columnist for The Washington Examiner and president of High Noon Strategies.