The Current

Reporters covering U.S. election reflect on Trump victory

There is an old saying that journalism is the first draft of history. The Current convenes three reporters immersed in one of the ugliest, strangest and dramatic elections, to reflect the morning after Donald Trump was elected as the next U.S. president.
From L to R: Senior reporter at the Arizona Republic Bob Ortega; New York Times reporter Susanne Craig; Washington Post reporter David A. Fahrenthold. (Twitter)

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And so ends one of the longest, strangest and ugliest presidential campaigns in U.S. history.

Reporters covering the race for American newspapers now have a new era to chronicle as president-elect Donald Trump moves towards becoming the 45th president of the United States.

"I think that people not just said 'we want somebody new but we don't want somebody who is not establishment in the White House,'" says New York Times reporter Susanne Craig.

She tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti that Clinton was never able to get over the email scandal — they wanted change and voting for Trump was their only option.

"For a lot of people it was the vote that they had to make given how strongly they felt about ... her and just the baggage that she brought with her."

As a reporter, Craig is worried about what is to come. With Trump's lack of trust in the media, there will be "a chilling effect, there's no question."

"A free and healthy press … it's a cornerstone of a strong democracy."

Craig says undermining the important role media serves in society is a real issue moving forward.

"It's pretty clear that there's going to be a lot of self-examination by the media in the coming weeks," Arizona Republic senior reporter Bob Ortega tells Tremonti.

"We're going to have to examine very carefully going forward about the relationship between the media and our politicians," Ortega says.

David A. Fahrenthold covered the presidential election for the Washington Post. In his reporting he broke numerous stories about the Trump Foundation and the now infamous Access Hollywood tape, in which Donald Trump bragged of groping women without their consent.

Fahrenthold tells Tremonti he thinks those stories didn't stick to Trump because so much was going on — "one scandal was erased by the next scandal."

As for why Hillary lost, Fahrenthold says she didn't sell herself beyond her accomplishments.

"[Hillary] didn't make a case for herself beyond her own resume, and the fact that she was sort of deserving and would do a good job."

Craig, who was involved in publishing portions of Donald Trump's 1995 tax returns — revealing he may not have paid federal taxes for 18 years, says people became numb to the shock value of Trump.

"It's almost like when one happens you're like what's going to happen next," Craig tells Tremonti.

"There was almost not a rage but anticipation at times."

Ortega sees "a certain amount of epistemic closure" in all this in that Trump cultivated attacks on him by mainstream media as proof he was an outsider.

"So for the base that was voting for him the kinds of stories that Susan and David were writing were simply fodder for his campaign."

Listen to the full segment.

This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal.