The Media’s Disgraceful Brexit Meltdown


Charles C.W. Cooke:

Minutes separated the news from the narrative. On Friday morning, at just a hair past midnight, it was reported that the British people had voted to leave the European Union. Less than half an hour later, they were being told by the press that they regretted it. And nowhere was the wish-casting or the condemnation more vocal than within the United States press corps.

That the American media establishment considered the Brexit plebiscite to have gone the wrong way was obvious to anybody with an active Twitter account and a working pair of eyes. In and of itself, this was not the end of the world; to work for a newspaper is not to abandon all of one’s private views, and for many Twitter has become a place where the tightly bound can opine without redress. And yet, once back within their professional capacities, one expects better of the ostensibly neutral. That so many of those who have been tasked with informing the public chose instead to embark upon a hard-fought campaign against the truth should worry anybody who is concerned with the health of the Fourth Estate.

Perhaps the most galling part of the press’s disgraceful reaction has been the almost total lack of skepticism on display. It was bad enough that almost everybody within the American media seems to have looked at the opinion polls – which on the final day showed the vote to be pretty evenly matched – and to have concluded nevertheless that Remain was certain to prevail. But for this myopia to have marked the aftermath as well is nothing short of astonishing. Over the last four days, pretty much every half-assed story going has been given glaring front-page treatment – providing, that is, it serves to soothe the chatterers’ frazzled nerves. Thus it was that the loss was blamed on a supposed obsession with immigration; that a soaring “Bregret” narrative emerged; and that a hoax petition was given a prominence within the reporting that it in no way deserved even had it not been a prank. The response, in short, has been extraordinary.

It has proven difficult to count the number of ways in which the press has blown this story, so I will focus on just two of the many crucial errors that have caught my attention.

The first is the press’s peculiar belief that the “Leave” side won because its voters are stupid and impetuous, and because they don’t know what’s good for themselves – an attitude that has been well illustrated by the insistence that British voters took “frantically” to googling “what is the EU?” once the results had become clear. From the start, the implication of the coverage has been that, devastated by the news that they had actually prevailed, the moronic advocates of Brexit elected finally to do some reading.

In truth, this whole line is nonsense. As 538’s Ben Casselman has pointed out, people also googled “who is Mitt Romney” after he lost to Barack Obama in 2012. Should that be taken as a sign of regret? Hardly, no. Not only do we not know who is doing the googling (it could be Remain voters, it could be Leave voters, it could be non-voters; nobody knows), but, as Gedalyah Reback of Geektime notes, this is what voters do in the wake of momentous political events. Moreover, it turns out that the supposed “frantic” “spike” in interest was caused by just 1,000 people. Even if we presume – against demographic trends – that every single person who took to Google was a Leave voter who was downing gin-and-tonics and flagellating himself for his stupidity, the data here would indicate no more than that a whopping 0.00005 percent of those who had voted were having second thoughts.

Equally unfounded is the talk of a three-and-a-bit-million-strong petition, which, if accepted by the British government, would invalidate the first referendum and yield a second that requires a supermajority. Again, the implication here is that, having got what they wanted, Leave voters are panicking. Again, the story is built on sand. As Heat Street reports, the petition represents not the hearty cry of the devastated masses, but a rather devilish 4Chan-initated prank. Per those who have looked into the effort, the vast majority of the “signatures” (a) originated from IP addresses outside the U.K., and (b) were left not by real people, but were automatically generated by a simple hacker’s script. Oops! (For what it’s worth, even if the petition were authentic, it wouldn’t matter one whit. Sixteen million people opposed Britain’s leaving; would it really be newsworthy if a fraction of that group called for a second chance?)

That neither of these stories is supported by the available evidence should not come as a surprise, for the broader case that Leave voters are suffering from “buyers’ remorse” is in fact embarrassingly weak. A poll conducted by ComRes the day after the referendum showed that 48 percent of Brits were “Happy” with the result, that 43 percent were “Unhappy,” and that seven percent were “indifferent.” Moreover, ComRes found that four times more Remain voters said that they were “happy” with the result than Leave voters said they were “unhappy.” “Bregret”? Brenonsense.

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The media is going into a tailspin over england leaving the eurowenie union

I’m sure there will be many benefits to be had for the UK from deliberately shooting itself in the foot. The UK may find itself losing Scotland as a result. The value of the British pound has now fallen to a 31-year low against the dollar. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped 900 points over the last 2 days. Two trillion dollars of value have suddenly vanished. There wasn’t even a puff of smoke.

It’s worth noting that in the United States there seems to be a very strong correlation between belief that this was a smart move, and belief that having Donald Trump in the White House is somehow a good idea. As with those who voted to abandon the European Union, Trump supporters haven’t got a clue about the possible real-world consequences.

Trump, by the way—global economics genius that he is—thinks the UK leaving is a splendid idea. He thinks the dropping pound will be good for English and Scottish tourism. Possibly his golf course will make a few bucks as a result.

“When the pound goes down, more people are coming to Turnberry, frankly,” Trump added during an afternoon news conference. “For traveling and for other things, I think it very well could turn out to be a positive.”

He also suggested that running a golf course was comparable to running a nation: “You’ll be amazed how similar it is. It’s a place that has to be fixed.”

It’s unbelievable that this guy is the GOP’s presumptive nominee for the presidency.

When the EU outlawed toasters, electric tea kettles and certain vacuum cleaners, I believe that they are infringing upon the rights of individuals. While this is a small thing, the EU has taken away the rights of many of the member nations. I recently hiked several hundred miles in Europe and met people from many countries. What they all had in common is a distrust and disrespect for their government officials. The stock markets are up today and the big loser is likely to be the EU. The Brits will find themselves in control of their country again. I expect that some of their knowledge they developed when managing the British Empire will remain.

This could represent an excellent business opportunity for anyone who wants to start a line of European bumper stickers, hats, and tee shirts: “I’ll give you my high-power toaster when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.”

Maybe Donald would consider throwing some money at the project.

And now for something completely different

There’s a pertinent observation that comes from a line in an old Joni Mitchell song:

“…you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…”


…And “Freedom’s just another word… for nothing left to lose.”

When we each stand alone, what do we buttress ourselves with when the wind blows?

Can’t you imagine the Communists’ delight as they watch the free world deconstructing itself? So easy to pick off the wee little independents…

“We must indeed all hang together or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
Benjamin Franklin

The Brits made a mistake. Good time to travel over and play Trump’s course–check out that sprinkler system he glowed over.

@Rich Wheeler #7:

I bet that those who voted for the Brexit didn’t realize that their votes were going to take a big bite out of their investment accounts. Now they learn the unhappy news that Europe won’t let them into the “common market” unless they continue to take all those refugees that they were hoping to keep out, thus evaporating the gain they mistakenly anticipated. Buyers’ remorse. Same as what voters here will get if Trump manages to win in November. If Hillary gets elected, status quo equals no crash, but if she stumbles on the way, better sell your stock and buy gold… FAST!

@Greg: Dummy, that is why they voted to get back what they had lost!