The only thing more bruised and broken than Hillary Clinton right now is the Fourth Estate.

The establishment media is woefully out of touch with the people it’s supposed to represent, and Donald Trump’s election finally exposed it.

How many times in the last day have you heard someone in the media say, “No one saw this coming.” Yes, a lot of people saw it coming. Just not the people who allegedly covered the election.

This election was a massive failure by the establishment media — broadcasters, pollsters, newspapers, consultants and know-nothing cable TV yakkers — who largely live and breathe in New York or Washington.

The question is whether they will do anything about it.

I’ve been a working journalist for 32 straight years so it saddens me to watch what’s happened to the business, especially in this election. Fearless but fair reporters like the late Deborah Orin of the New York Post, who mercilessly tortured White House press secretaries and was never afraid to ask questions no one else would, are hard to find. She was more at home in a New Hampshire diner than a K Street steak house.

In this election, by any objective measure, the media covered Trump with much more derision and criticism than it did Hillary Clinton.

This is not to say Trump shouldn’t get tough coverage. It’s fine to be skeptical. We are supposed to be tough on him, just like any other candidate running for office. The bombshell recording of his comments about women was big news, and demanded the heavy coverage and follow-up interviews of other women.

The problem is Clinton did not get the same treatment. When FBI Director James B. Comey announced the new email discovery, most of the media fell in line with the Democrats’ spin that Comey was out of line — instead of looking to find out what was in the emails. In fact, many journalists either openly rooted against Trump or never believed he would ever be elected president.

That’s why they missed the real story, which was the legitimate Trump movement — a mix of blue-collar workers, religious conservatives, rural voters and average Joe Six-packs — who believed they were being ignored and trodden on by the establishment and elites in Washington.

It won’t be easy for the media to win back the trust of the public. Journalists aren’t exactly known for their ability to take criticism. But here are a few suggestions.

–Get out of Washington. It would be hard to find a place more out of touch with ordinary America than Capitol Hill. Washington journalists should rotate out of D.C. every few years to flush out the Washington groupthink. Go to a bar where a beer costs less than $7 a pop.

–Get back to what journalism is supposed to be about — exposing lies, corruption, incompetence and the waste of taxpayer money. Many journalists these days seem to think it’s fine to report what a candidate’s press office says. It’s not. It was painful to listen to reports early Tuesday night of a “top Trump campaign official” claiming it was looking bad for them. That was a tactic to suppress turnout for Clinton. The reporters were being used and didn’t even know it.

–Revisit the standards for covering politics and campaigns. Insist on complete impartiality from reporters and editors. No crossing the line into partisan activities. No donations to candidates. If you want to support or root for a politician, find another job.

The initial reaction of journalism “ethicists” to Trump’s election is not promising — rallying to defend against what they see as Trump’s attacks on the First Amendment.

What they should be doing — along with the rest of the media — is taking a long, hard, cold look in the mirror.


(c)2016 the Boston Herald

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