Donald Trump must own tiny British sports cars. Both the Washington Post and New York Times had the same headline this morning: TRUMP TRIUMPHS. Scattered all over the big media websites you see the words: Stunning, traumatic, shocking, disbelief, upset, startling, unthinkable, surprise.
As Vice President Joe Biden might have stage-whispered into President Barack Obama’s ear, “This is a big %$$&**! deal!”
The media treatment this morning looks like a mad smorgasbord.
Some sites, like the Huffington Post, shed any pretenses it had of not so much objectivity, but at least appealing to thoughtful people. Now it looks unhinged — “Mourning in America,” “NIGHTMARE: Prez Trump,” “An American tragedy.” Ditto for Salon and Slate (whose homepage is dominated by a banner ad for one-percenter Lexus hybrids).
At the other end of the political spectrum, and equally unpretentious, sites like Breitbart yell, “Shock-and awesome: Movement of ordinary Americans stun global elite” and “Don breaks through.” Darker still, sites like Inforwars.com, which warns, “Hillary faces prison after Trump wins.” “Liberals in tears…”
Politico, that supremely inside-Washington tab, has lots of great headlines that catch the shock-and-awe of the aftermath. “Clinton supporters unleash fury on Comey.” “At Trump’s victory party, hints of vengeance to come.” “Obama suffers brutal rebuke.” Good verbs.
Embarrassed columnists and television commentators will rush to explain why they got it wrong. Many of them already are. The New York Times explains why the election was a “Dewey defeats Truman” moment for the digital age.
In reality, a thousand factors were at work. Immigrants, people of color, women, you name it — millions of them voted their personal conscience and that took them to both sides. Many unemployed white males voted for Trump, if you believe the exit polls, but many also voted for Clinton. Maybe it’s time the self-styled political analysts stopped assigning everyone to a group, then assigning to that group an acceptable opinion.
I watched no television last night. It’s too much. I used the wonderful interactive maps on my iPhone provided by the Post and the Wall Street Journal to monitor what was going on. No noise, no haughty experts. Just the numbers and the state outlines in their shifting shades of red and blue.
Had Hillary Clinton won, you in the federal government and we who cover it would have had a fairly clear picture of what would have come next — in policy, federal management, general approach. With Trump, no one can honestly say. Maybe Newt Gingrich can.
As Federal News Radio executive editor Jason Miller likes to quip, Federal News Radio dares to be boring. We’ll tell you, to the best of our ability and without judgment, what the election means to you and your work.
But just this morning, whether you’re crying or laughing, here’s my advice for gaining equilibrium: take some time to entertain yourself with the fantastical headlines.