Glenn Greenwald’s Pundit Prediction Failures And What Really Matters In 2016

During this 2016 presidential race, GOP candidates have repeatedly attacked the media or found some way to mobilize their base to do the same, and now that most of them are out of the race, they still can’t seem to catch a break. Especially when writer and adversarial journalist Glenn Greenwald reminds voters that it was the media who tried to dismiss candidates Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

In his blog, via The Intercept, he writes about how much of a waste of time it is for the pundits to make predictions of which candidates are going to come out on top. Specifically around the predictions that Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders wouldn’t make it as far as they have, and how spectacular of a failure those predictions have been.

In his op-ed, Greenwald first asks the obvious question, “Why would journalists decide that it’s important for the public to hear their guesses about who will win and lose?”

He feels that these pundits have put too much energy into making their predictions, along with failing to at least make the obvious observation, that we have a 24-hour news cycle, and some of these guys can still fluff things up while they’re in it.

Sean Hannity at CPAC in 2015 Sean Hannity with a football is an example of a perfect combination between sports and politics, the way pundits and television personalities are energized to make predictions. Hannity is 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference in February 2015. [Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr | CC BY-SA 3.0]Greenwald isn’t the only one to refer to the sports punditry that’s become the norm, but the kind of high energy that goes into that kind of reporting, which has become all the rage, can easily drive a person to act as if there’s some value in their predictions.

He further addresses their investment of that energy, under the scrutiny of journalistic integrity, which Greenwald stands by with sword and shield, but he’s preaching to the choir here because, most people aren’t looking for that integrity.

But because he defends it so, under that lens, he can narrow this issue down to resulting in two serious problems.


The first point is when they establish themselves behind their predictions either as an individual pundit, or as representing their media source, they create the narratives of winners and losers. Second, it sets the precedent, in the important work that the field of journalism does, to be lazy about their predictions, when the need for journalistic integrity should force them to work harder, taking more time to analyze their results.

To his second point, he also points out how many of these pundits are not doing better to self-analyze themselves or hold themselves accountable when they’re wrong where it would suggest that their views would have some value.

It is here where one could have expected that Greenwald would have displayed a little more insight into the biases and polarization of the media and/or the people who are making these predictions.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on stage, Milwaukee debate. 2016 Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, left, and Hillary Clinton smile as they take the stage before a Democratic presidential primary debate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Milwaukee. [Image by Tom Lynn | AP Photo]They see, for instance, a serious problem with the idea that Trump could not win the nomination or on the other end, that Clinton was predicted to waltz to their nomination.

Trump’s winning the nomination goes well with some of the legitimate fears from left-wing media that someone like Trump would come out on top, but the fear could easily be turned — and has been — into an attack on the right, holding them responsible for getting behind that nominee.

When saying how wrong the pundits are to say, with certainty, that Hillary would “waltz” to the nomination, is Greenwald’s way to throw some support behind Bernie Sanders.


And without even mentioning the numbers from those polls he’s complaining about, which show that Hillary is ahead of Sanders with more delegates — which is much more about reality than fantasy — we can see he’s taking part in the fight against a hawkish Clinton, a similar sentiment we’ve seen from the aggressive left-wing supporters that have been making headlines.

So, in a way, Greenwald is making his predictions here too, perhaps hoping for the contested convention Sanders wants.

But at the same time he also says that there’s nothing wrong with making predictions. And when you take the “journalistic integrity” out of it, there certainly isn’t.

The predictions he’s talking about are all made pundits who are part of the elitist pundit class who all have a tribal agenda for their base.


Because the differences between Krauthammer and Brooks are that only one of them has shown more humility than the other, to the point where one of them has even published a moving and powerful book about it. But neither of them want Trump to win, and neither of them are part of the radical movement that’s shaking up the system like Greenwald is.

Those pundits who have crunched-the-numbers have already been saying for months that “mathematically” there’s no way that Sanders can catch up or that Trump’s former challengers, ever had a chance.

And so if there are any predictions of value, whether they’re made with journalistic integrity or not, those are certainly predictions we can get behind.

[Image by Schmetfad | ShutterStock]