The Biggest 2018 Election News Story You Never Heard

Bob “Again” Carney Jr. is the editor of He is working a second edition of his 2017 book: BREAK GLASS IMPEACH TRUMP.

The 2018 election is history – and we’re on to naming rights.  Was it the “Year of Suburban Women?”  The “Checks and Balances election?”  The “Resistance election?” The “Fake News election?”  Your nomination here: __________.

Clearly suburban women awarded the Democrats the U.S. House.  Many had voted for Republicans in previous cycles but fled the GOP this year.  This was the obvious lead story on election night. 

This lead story certainly isn’t “fake news” -- but it was literally prefabricated news.  We’ll come back to this point.  But first, let’s consider a little-known write-in choice for “real lead story” of the 2018 election -- focusing on one crucial, iceberg-sized fact: the overall result was the biggest midterm election increase in participation among the Voting-Eligible Population (“VEP”) in all of U.S. history.  For presidential cycles, only two “economic panic” elections are comparable -- Andrew Jackson’s 1828 win and the 1840 election. 

However (and unfortunately) this “VEP earthquake” was neither specifically predicted nor generally predictable by conventional means.  Uncertainty about who will vote – both the levels and demographics of participation -- is the perennial Achilles’ heel of all public opinion polling.

Although any considered analysis must acknowledge a strong claim that the VEP increase is the biggest actual, hard news story of the 2018 election cycle, when the Trumptanic hit the VEP iceburg, America heard nothing.  The mainstream media didn’t tell us.

Why is this?

There are three main reasons. 

The biggest reason is that while “politicos” will immediately exclaim “What IS THAT?” when presented with relevant graphs of turnout, only a very small minority of people are really “into this stuff.”  Still… this story is easy enough to report on graphically… even for TV.

But second – and this is crucial -- on November 6th there was no ready-to-launch, pre-fabricated version of a “Trumptanic-hits-VEP-iceburg” story. 

This doesn’t mean the actual election coverage news fireworks was “fake news” in any sense.  We can and should expect journalists to be prepared with as much background and “pre-fabricated content” as possible before elections, and all events that are both major and at least somewhat predictable. 

But we must understand that this very preparation and diligence – the whole prefabricating process --has become a kind of filter – one that can and does prevent us from ever hearing about truly major news.  The 2016 surprise was too obvious to ignore – Trump won.  But this year’s “Trumptanic-hits-VEP-iceberg” story was all too easy to ignore.

The third reason why the “Trumptanic-iceburg” story sank before it was launched is the most insidious.  The mainstream media has a built-in institutional bias in favor of ignoring anything unless they can plausibly tell us immediately what it means.  The bare, iceberg-sized fact was there. But today’s “news consumers” want and expect dessert… pre-fabricated, tasty instant analysis and insights from a panel including someone on “our team.” 

Given this de facto news meu format, if news organizations can’t tell us immediately – RIGHT NOW – what a major event or development means, a strong institutional dynamic kicks in to prevent reporting on it.  That’s the practical result. 

Fortunately, the is a remedy available for this media blind spot.  We the People can demand that the mainstream media must pre-fabricate a default new-but-unpredicted-and/or-unpredictable lead story for all widely anticipated news events such as elections. 

Here a possible template: “_______________ has emerged as our “election surprise news story” tonight… and of course we’re not just surprised, we’re also not sure what it means.  We’ll be continuing to report on this surprise news story as we learn more, and as we identify credible people who might have a clue about what this ‘known unknown’ means.  Back to you, History.”

The mainstream media can and should make a deliberate commitment to try to identify what the surprise news is for all major events.  Wouldn’t this be a healthy reform going forward?


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