NEW YORK, (Xinhua) — After the long and grinding process of vote counting that went into 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, the result was finally out and put much of the U.S. mainstream media, many experts and the general public in a state of disbelief.
The New York real estate mogul and reality show star turned politician, Donald Trump, who was embroiled in controversy for the most of the overextended presidential campaign period, won the U.S. presidency against all odds.
Virtually none of the polls before the vote were in his favor. Most of the media did not expect his victory. There was only an extreme narrow path for him to win, which included winning all of the battleground states and at least one or two of the democratic-leaning states.
Yet he was able to pull one of the biggest upsets in recent history, and in its aftermath has rippled throughout U.S. society.
The U.S. mainstream media did not try to disguise their surprise, and the shock was apparent in the headlines. “Outside mogul captures the presidency, stunning Clinton in battleground states,” wrote the New York Times. “Stunning Trump win,” at the Los Angeles Times. “House of Horrors,” was the headline following Trump’s win at the New York Daily News.
“The surprise outcome,” wrote the New York Times in its front page story, “threatened convulsions throughout the country and the world.”
A series of adjectives used by the Wall Street Journal story also clearly expressed disbelief. “The election, an unedifying, raucous and unpredictable contest, the strangest in the modern era, defied all the predictions,” wrote Michael C. Bender and Peter Nicholas.
Most of the mainstream media in the U.S. had been labeled “biased” by Trump and his supporters. In a recent poll released by Suffolk University/USA Today, 75.9 percent of the 1,000 adults surveyed believed that the media wanted the Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to win, and only 7.9 percent said Trump was the one that media supports.
But when Fox News, considered by many as the only media outlet that represents right-wing values, called the result a “stunner” and “historic upset,” it was clear the shock was universal.
“There is just utter shock,” said Maggie Hagerman in a recent broadcast.
Hagerman is a political correspondent for The New York Times and had been covering both Trump and Clinton “in some form or another for 20 years”.
“Donald Trump did everything short of cutting off his own ears try to hurt himself over and over again and dared voters to reject him, and they just wouldn’t do it,” Hagerman said.
“Although I didn’t have 100 percent confidence that Clinton would win, I’m still surprised by the result, even baffled,” said Jingsi Wu, assistant professor of journalism, media studies and public relations at Hofstra University in New York.
The Trump win has shown how the U.S. media and society vastly underestimated his appeal to voters, especially whites without a college degree, said Wu.
“It was a great surprise. Every single major polling prediction was frustrated by the vote count on Tuesday,” said David Birdsell, Dean of the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College.
Birdsell said it was clear that Clinton had underperformed Barack Obama by failing to motivate her base.
“She lost every one of the demographics that Democrats need to go into office,” Birdsell added.
“Trump had challenged and questioned the mainstream media time and time again during his presidential campaign, and even showed inclination to shut some outlets off,” said Wu.
“This indicates that the operation of the media will face difficult challenges when he’s in office, and they also have to reflect on how they can win back the trust lost by the public,” she added.
Worrying about the prospect of a Trump presidency, thousands of people took to the streets in protest in major cities across the U.S.
In New York City, a crowd of as many as 5,000 young people gathered in front of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue chanting “We reject the president-elect.”
“I think that I can say that pretty unanimously in New York that we are completely devastated,” said Briana Berry.
“We’ve introduced volatility, chance and randomness into the government,” said Vassar College student Lorenzo, who didn’t disclose his last name.
“Anything can happen in the next two years, and it’s a scary thought,” said Lorenzo.
“I’m scared that since the Republicans have control of the House and Senate, they are going to take away all the hard work that we have put into the country,” said Viena Hoffmann, a New York University Student.
Many protesters complained about the Electoral College system, which they claimed had helped to put Trump on top.
“There’s a massive problem with the electoral process, because it’s not actually a democratic vote,” said protester Sarah Curry.
“Hillary won the popular vote. Technically she should have been the president. But because of the Electoral College, we wound up with ‘Mr. Cheetos’,” she added.
“Why does a small state like Wyoming have such a powerful opinion? Why does the popular vote not matter? These are important questions that need to be addressed,” said Lorenzo.
“It’s an outdated system,” he said.