If one of the more popular criticisms of the media’s coverage of the election was that the media, collectively, didn’t do enough to understand the Trump voter, the response has been to cover and try to understand the Trump voter, whether all lumped in together as the white working class or otherwise.
CNN’s Alisyn Camerota did just that today on New Day. But instead of merely asking a group of Trump supporters to state their beliefs–a problematic but common practice in interviews generally–she asked them the source of their beliefs, which led to a much more telling, and dispiriting and absorbing interview.
This was a group Camerota had spoken to before. This time around, the conversation turned specifically to the fictitious claims of large-scale voter fraud during the last election, something that some of the supporters believed to be a real thing.
You could tell by the way Camerota handled this exchange that she recognized the news value of this part of the interview was not in noting that these supporters believed this, but in trying to figure out why they believed this.
“Voting is a privilege in this country, and you need to be legal, not like California, where three million illegals voted,” states one of the participants.
“Let’s talk about that, responds Camerota.
“I’m glad I brought that up, Alisyn,” says the participant.
“Me too, Paula,” responds Camerota, with a caution that belies the stealthiness of the ensuing follow-ups. “So where are you getting your information?”
“Media. Where else…”
This is the part where we apologize for using that vague term at the beginning of this post.
“Which media?” asks Camerota.
“It was CNN, I believe.”
“CNN said that three million illegal people voted for California?”
“Well it was all across the media. All across,” responds the participant as Camerota mouths a no. “If CNN didn’t do it then they were being smart this time.”
Camerota then asks the participant if she really believes those claims.
“I believe in California that there were illegals that voted,” she says.
“How many?” asks Camerota.
“I don’t…to tell you the truth nobody really knows that,” she responds.
But Camerota presses on. “But do you think three dozen or three million?”
“I think there was a good amount, because the president told people they could vote, and that happened in Nashua, we caught some people.”
“Did you hear President Obama say that illegal people could vote?” Both Paula and another participant agreed.
And Camerota continues on her epistemological mission.
“Tell me. Where?”
The response: “On…you could find it. Google it,” said the second participant. “You could find it on Facebook.” Take note, “not a media company” Facebook, of the people who think you are a source of news.
Camerota goes in search of their source.
“I don’t want to waste any more time, but, anyway, I see where it came from. Fox Business Network deceptively edited a clip of Barack Obama to argue that the President encourages illegal immigrants to vote when in fact he had said nothing of the sort when you go back to the transcript.
It continued, leading Camerota to slap her forehead incredulously when when Paula said that “California allows” undocumented immigrants to vote.
You can watch the clip below.
— Eugene Scott (@Eugene_Scott) December 1, 2016