The Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank (10/2/15) said he would eat the page on which his column was printed if Donald Trump gained the Republican nomination. “The entire commentariat is going to feel a little silly when Marco Rubio wins every Republican primary,” tweeted the New York Times‘ Ross Douthat (9/25/15). “Trump Will Still Lose. Here’s How,” said Bloomberg News (1/7/16). “No, Donald Trump Won’t Win,” lectured David Brooks (New York Times, 12/4/15). And on and on.
These experts, it would seem, were wrong—and confidently, arrogantly, condescendingly so. But as noted by Glenn Greenwald and Zaid Jilani, who corralled many examples for The Intercept (5/4/16), they will pay absolutely no price for it. And that’s a problem. It isn’t that journalists should never make predictions; or that they’re expected to always be right. But you do have to wonder why so much energy is devoted to crystal-ball gazing when nothing seems to be learned when pundits are way off target.
“At the very least,” wrote Greenwald and Jilani,
when a profession that touts its expertise, collectively, is this wildly wrong about something so significant, more needs to be done than a cursory, superficial acknowledgment of error — or casting blame on others — before quickly moving on, in the hope that it’s all forgotten.