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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

All of us — and the media, in particular — need some clear-eyed, humble self-reflection as the dust settles on the 2020 election results. 

  • Here are a few preliminary Axios learnings.

The media remains fairly clueless about the America that exists outside of the big cities, where most political writers and editors live. The coverage missed badly the surge in Trump voters in places obvious (rural America) and less obvious (Hispanic-heavy border towns in Texas). 

  •  Let’s be honest: Many of us under-appreciated the appeal of Trump’s anti-socialism message and the backlash against the defund-the-police rhetoric on the left.

The media (and many Democrats) are fairly clueless about the needs, wants and trends of Hispanic voters. Top Latinos warned about overlooking and misreading the fastest-growing population in America — but most didn’t listen. Hispanics will shape huge chunks of America’s political future, so a course correction is in order. 

The polls too often sucked. Stop justifying or spinning the reality that public and private polls blew it in too many places, from Wisconsin to individual House races. Yes, some were better than others, but many were off by a very distorting margin. 

The media filter bubble is getting worse, not better. Look at what’s unfolding in real-time: Trump supporters feel like Fox isn’t pro-Trump enough, while reporters and columnists bolted The New York TimesVox Media and others because they were not “woke” enough.

  • This is an urgent sign that we are collectively losing the battle for truth and open debate. 
  • This could still get much worse if Trump supporters choose not just networks but social platforms like Parler and Rumble for consuming and sharing their reality and liberals simply do the same in more traditional places.

Twitter is a mass-reality-distortion field for liberals and reporters.  The group-think and liberal high-fiving was as bad as ever and continues to be a massive trap and distraction for journalists. 

Facebook is a mass-reality-distortion field for conservatives.  Look at the content pages that get the most daily interaction (shares, likes, etc.) and it's all right-wing catnip.  It’s not all fake or conspiratorial, but a lot of it sure is. This is a huge problem. 

YouTube is a mass-reality-distortion field for people of all stripes. Videos endorsing election fraud were viewed more than 138 million times on the week of Nov. 3, according to a new report cited by The New York Times. 

The bottom line: We are losing the war for truth. There is no bigger crisis for media, politics and society than the growing number of people who do not believe facts and verifiable figures. If we do not collectively solve this, we are all screwed. 

  • Two-thirds of Republicans doubt the election was free and fair, despite the fact that election officials in every state see no evidence of widespread fraud.

Go deeper

Jan 28, 2021 - Technology

Big Tech bolts politics

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Big Tech fed politics. Then it bled politics. Now it wants to be dead to politics. 

Why it matters: The social platforms that profited massively on politics and free speech suddenly want a way out — or at least a way to hide until the heat cools. 

Ben Geman, author of Generate
46 mins ago - Energy & Environment

What to watch as infrastructure talks heat up

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A mix of Beltway action and extreme weather events have brought the fault lines in infrastructure talks and their planetary stakes into sharper focus.

Catch up fast: Senate Democratic leaders pledged to seek big climate measures in a multitrillion-dollar, Democrats-only package that faces a very narrow political path.

Drought, record heat wave in West have hallmarks of climate change

People on Folsom Lake in Granite Bay, California, U.S., June 16, 2021. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The prolonged and widespread heat wave in the West, along with the region's increasingly severe drought, is a sign of how climate change has already tilted the odds in favor of such extremes, studies show.

Why it matters: The rapidly growing Southwest, in particular, is also the nation's fastest-warming region. The combination of heat and drought could lead to a repeat, or even eclipse, the severity of 2020's wildfire season in California and other states.