Opinion: Nikki Haley is ready for her closeup | CNN

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Editor’s Note: Nicole Hemer Associate Professor of History and Carolyn T. and Robert M. Rogers is director of the Center for Presidential Studies at Vanderbilt University. She is the author The conservative revolutionaries who renewed American politics in the 1990s and co-hosts podcasts”.Past present“And”This day in esoteric political historyHe said. The views expressed in this review are her own. Look More comments by CNN.


Picking through the rubble of the 2016 election, reporters not only looked deep into the countryside of Trump country and the tattered remains of the Clinton campaign, but also turned to themselves.

They were. A lot of news release acreage has decided Hillary Clinton’s emails and Too many hours for the wall covering Donald Trump’s rallies; A Wave of Crimes It rained on the press from readers and colleagues, and the debate continued, severely falsifying the coverage of the campaign and contributing to the victory of Donald Trump. It was a time of reckoning.

But as we approach 2024 for the soul searching, it’s clear that not much has changed — for Trump or the journalists who cover him. As the GOP primary debates unfold and the race heats up, we get a sense of how little was learned from 2016.

The cover of the candidate Recent use From the word “anxious” and His unhinged truth social posts Maintain Trump’s platform by consolidating polls that show Trump’s high lead over his primary rivals. About the policies and other complications of the Trump presidency – which has drawn increasing attention – to the same horse-riding approach that we have yet to predict.

The stories generate a lot of heat, but not a lot of light. If this approach prevails when the 2024 election campaign moves into the general election, Americans will not be ready for the polls.

Because we have a political press that has learned to talk too much about the state of American democracy without providing the stories and information voters need to make sense of the 2024 election.

Voters don’t just vote on the future of their government: they vote on what they think of the candidates’ personalities, policies and politics. Coverage of the Republican primaries — and Trump’s most viable primary challenger — shows how the current approach obscures larger issues and developments, often making dire predictions from inside baseball and about the campaigns.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s experience is a teacher. In the primary debates where Trump skipped, she emerged as the candidate with policy prescriptions and presentations. Sometimes they differ significantly. From Trump and other candidates on stage. More hawkish in foreign policymore Skeptical of anti-abortion absolutismless interest Concepts of economic populismHaley is likely to stand with the George W. Bush/Paul Ryan wing of the party, which has seen the Republican coalition nearly disappear since Trump’s rise.

That view was reinforced by news from Tuesday: Haley Confirmation received Americans for Prosperity, a superPAC founded by David and Charles Koch. In reporting his endorsement, The New York Times delved into the campaign’s tactics and polling positions, discussing Haley’s position in the polls, the superPAC’s deep pockets and the desire to “turn the page” on the Trump era. But nowhere does he talk in depth about policy or what the Koch brothers’ firm represents in the Republican coalition. The Times cited foreign policy and Haley’s criticism of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, her advocacy of military action against Iran and her hawkish support for aid to Ukraine.

But there is more to say. They have the Koch brothers He represents the party’s corporate wing for a long time, pushing policies that favor big business and the wealthy, such as low taxes, low wages, open immigration, free trade, and so on. And those interests will shape their support for Haley. It’s information that campaign journalists didn’t have to look far to find. The endorsement discusses Haley’s education and health care policies, and points to her anti-union and pro-industry stance.

What makes Haley interesting in this race isn’t really her standing in the polls, but her position in the party. She shows us not only the once dominant faction of the GOP, but how that wing of the party has come to terms with the Trump era.

Haley was Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, an interesting position for someone whose foreign policy is very different from Trump’s seemingly non-interventionist one. She has taken a more hard line on immigration – something of the Koch brothers He frowned once. – and it’s close Anti-trans rhetoric and policies. She has He filed a lawsuit against Trump As a source of political accusations and unnecessary drama, the latter reflects her caution about aggressively attacking Trump.

That explains something about Haley, who was otherwise a goofy-putty figure in the race, someone Trump can impress on conservative Republicans and independents. Haley came out as the medium described by her. The decision to remove the Confederate flag In the year After the racial massacre in Charleston in 2015 from the state capital or as a budget balancing wonk, it is described by her willingness To relax Social Security and Medicare deductions. Or it could be Haley, who has set the standard for the Republican Party, defined by her identity as a woman and Indian-American. But none of them fully capture Haley’s actual politics or policy choices.

Exhibiting both support and Haley’s policy positions helps us see how Republicans who disagree with Trump have dealt with him without fulfilling many of his political commitments.

Not only does it explain one thing about party and voter composition, but it also explains some of the developments of the Trump era: the establishment of a supposedly economic populist president. Deeper tax cuts for the richTried (and still trying) To repeal the Affordable Care ActAnd who He met with non-union workers During the recent United Auto Workers strike in Detroit.

With that clarity in mind, journalists can shed light on a second Trump presidency that goes beyond the tangible dangers to democratic governance. are there Real material results A Trump presidency that will make working class Americans worse off in the economy. There may be tension among Republicans interested in thinking about economic populism, but when it comes to actual governance, Haley’s wing remains in the driver’s seat.

All this requires a fundamentally different approach to election coverage. Campaign reporting has changed on the margins. Journalists sometimes push back against Trump. They use the word “fake” and even the word “fascism”. But when it comes to election coverage, the core model is still the same, fueled by polls and forecasts and palace intrigue, and less interested in policy and long-term change in parties and their constituents.

That’s what happened New report From the Columbia Journalism Review, He studies the front pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post to see how much has changed since 2016 during the 2022 midterms. not much.

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“We found that the Times and Post share significant overlap in coverage of domestic politics, providing little insight into policy,” the report’s authors wrote. “Both emphasize horse racing and campaign palace intrigue, stories that do more to entertain readers than to educate about the differences between political parties.” The Post showed a little more interest in issues of interest to Democrats, while the Times focused on Republican issues, while the papers shared the same old — and, indeed, profitable — approach to campaign coverage.

It’s a model that’s been in place for decades — and has been heavily criticized since before Trump. In 2012, journalist Patrick Hruby He objected to what he called The criticism that “political journalism is a sports center” still exists today. Media criticism was the backbone of both The Daily Show, along with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report, and is a central method of analyzing American politics. But that criticism hasn’t led to wholesale institutional reform—partly because change is difficult and expensive, partly because it’s dangerous, partly because the pony model’s adherence to journalistic values ​​around objectivity and objectivity is too difficult to meet analytically. and context coverage. (And, of course, in part because readers don’t often show an appetite for policy stories, obstacle success in the media universe is largely a function of reader engagement.)

But the change must happen, and soon. A democracy cannot exist without a strong, independent, and Important Journalism – for a democracy on the brink, is even more important.

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