A mainstream media headline about the New York primary (“Clinton Moves Goalposts Again”) is unsupported by the facts of the article.


Last July, HillaryMen warned that insidious process stories in mainstream publications constituted a risk to Hillary’s public image:

Process stories – and the potent anti-Hillary frames they deliver – were one of the single most effective weapons against Hillary in 2008, painting a nefarious image that she was unable to alter or escape. Although Hillary is subjected to the most vitriolic language imaginable, the majority of negative coverage she endures comes in this form: a seemingly innocuous news article, editorial or blog post that manages, paragraph after paragraph, to deliver character-destroying frames.

The overarching point was that these articles are more harmful because they are less obviously negative:

To the casual reader, it may not be entirely obvious how damaging this type of reporting is for Hillary’s candidacy. But in aggregate, articles like this that appear regularly in major media outlets paint a portrait of a scheming, unprincipled politician. That portrait is often reflected back in polls and interviews – and ultimately at the ballot box.

Eight months later, with Hillary closing in on the Democratic nomination, we get this:

cnn spin

Here’s what the article says:

When Hillary Clinton lost the New Hampshire primary to Bernie Sanders in February, Robby Mook, her campaign manager, took the long view and declared the nomination would “very likely be won in March, not February.” The campaign is now taking an even longer view, with April now being the month they hope to put Sanders away.

How exactly does that support the headline Clinton Moves Goalposts Again? It doesn’t say she moved the goalposts twice. The subheader only shows one projection change. So the accurate title would be Clinton Moves Goalposts.

But why even frame this piece so negatively? “Moving the goalposts” is a term typically reserved for someone who is losing and making excuses for their loss. Hillary is clearly on track to win the nomination.

If anything, Bernie Sanders has gone from revolution and momentum to trying to flip superdelegates. If anyone has moved goalposts, it’s the Sanders campaign. But I can’t seem to find a headline about Bernie “moving the goalposts again.”

The reflexive media urge to paint everything as bad news for Hillary continues unabated. It is best illustrated by the pervasive myth of her so-called “enthusiasm gap,” a demonstrably false frame that has been repeated incessantly and now passes for truth.

The damage done to Hillary’s image by these types of stories is hard to measure. It is a testament to her tenacity and her supporters’ dedication that she continues to win.

UPDATE (4/2/16): Another similarly misleading headline:

This misses the entire context of the ongoing debate about oil and gas company donations. The central point is that Hillary objected to having companies and individual employees conflated. In the CNN article, reference is made to a 2008 Hillary ad:

“No candidate does. It has been against the law for 100 years,” says the narrator. “But Barack Obama accepted $200,000 from executives and employees of oil companies.”

Hillary’s ad did not conflate companies and individuals. It did the exact opposite. What Bernie Sanders is doing is very different from what Hillary did in 2008, but you wouldn’t know that from the article above.