And yet the media — which mostly predicted he wouldn’t get the nomination, then that he would lose the election — is now telling us what the President-elect is planning for the federal workforce when it is entirely possible he hasn’t decided yet. Or, if he has a plan, that it might change when he gets briefings and a clearer picture of what federal agencies do. And why.
On election day — that would be last Tuesday — Politico, one of the best and most respected publications dealing with American politics had the following headlines:
Udall, Gregoire are on Clinton’s shortlist for Interior secretary. What that story missed was that there isn’t going to be a Clinton cabinet or who unlikely winner (who won!) Trump would appoint to that job.
Final take: Democrats slightly favored to win Senate. It didn’t make clear who slightly favored that because it didn’t happen. The Republicans took the White House and kept the House and Senate. If you prefer one-party (as opposed to divided) government you are in for a treat. Or not.
In the run-up to the election, most major newspapers and networks wrote off Trump’s chances. Even as they fed his publicity machine with thousands of (free to him) hours of publicity. Bad, it was thought at the time. Except he won.
It works both ways. In 1948, the conservative Chicago Tribune ran the now famous headline Dewey Defeats Truman on election day. The picture of President Harry S. Truman, holding up that newspaper, is one of the most famous in American history. And it should be a lesson to predictors everywhere.
So what does it mean to you, working stiff, career civil servant, that in January you will have a new boss without any civilian government or military service? Does that make a difference? Will government hiring be frozen and, if it is (it’s been done many times before) which agencies will be immediately exempted?
What about pay raises? White-collar feds will be getting a 1-to-1.6 percent raise in January 2017. They’ve gotten a 1 percent raise each January in 2016, 2015 and 2014. Their pay raises were frozen in 2013, 2012 and 2011 after the White House recommended a two-year freeze and House Republicans extended the freeze another year. Who saw that coming?
Interestingly, the one guy who got it right doesn’t pay any attention to polls. He’s Allan J. Lichtman, a professor at D.C.’s American University. He uses a 13-point historical factor to predict the winner. He’s batting 1,000. He’s picked the winner in every race since 1984, including the Bush-Gore contest which was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court.
Bottom Line: Many if, not most, U.S. newspapers do an excellent job of telling us what happened yesterday. Many cable networks and local TV stations do well informing us what is happened now —breaking news. But when it comes to predicting the future the media is about as good (and sometimes less objective) than Madam Zelda the Tarot card reader. That said…
If you still believe that we news-and-opinion types really know what we’re talking about when it comes to political predictions, remember my Trump Revealed offer. And again, cash only, please. It simplifies bookkeeping.