Media bias in politics
In this rapidly changing world where there are no corners for unknown beings to hide, mass media has been an essential factor in day to day life. It has captured a major part of human life where it cannot be deprived of. Mass media can be defined as the mass conversation including a huge number of people. Prints, recordings, cinema, radio, internet and television are some major devices of mass media.
Mass media plays a major role in many activities and incidents that takes place daily.
Social activities, issues and problems in society, and sports are some major coverings of mass media. Evolving from that, politics has become the most famous and most spoken topic on mass media now. Favoring or criticizing a political party is another role played by mass media itself in the play of politics. Therefore Media bias is alive in politics and it influence in changing the opinion of voters.
Many people question why the media is bias in politics.
It is bias because reporters like good stories and it’s what their business is based on. Some candidates are not favored by the press because it’s engaged in vast conspiracy (The Frontline).
Media bias has an ability to make voters bias and it is a vicious cycle that can either break or make a candidate’s campaign. Due to most of the major broadcasts and newspapers being owned by private companies, it mostly depends on the opinions of journalists and newscasters and the way the information is presented to influence a change in how people view them (Alterman, 2003). Publics’ interest in politics is affected by media presenting people with what they want to see and hear. Within campaigns media focus their attention on issues that they consider being the most important while leaving other issues to be left out and ignored. They practice this on candidate coverage too. They focus on candidates that they consider to be most important and favor their political party. (Alterman, 2003). A prominent example for media bias is the televised election between the USA presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960. It clearly showed that how media was biased towards public figures that oozed charisma and harbored a strong emotional presence. Through media Kennedy was introduced to the general public as a young, charismatic, vibrant and a television-friendly character while Nixon was introduced as an old, uninteresting character that’s not suitable for television (USnews). A poll conducted after this televised debate suggested that the television viewers thought that Kennedy had won while the radio listeners had thought the opposite. This made Kennedy emerge as the first president made for television. This proves that many candidates use the power of image projected by media to influence the viewers (USnews).
On the election process of Bill Clinton; he used media for his advantage taking part in TV shows playing his saxophone where the media created his image to the public to be more of a “people person”. He was introduced as a more accessible and more charismatic leader where it favored his political campaigns and influenced the viewers. Even president Barrack Obama followed this in his first election in 2008 to make media an advantage to win his election influencing people and changing opinions of them. By appearing on many talk shows like SNL and The View, Barrack Obama projected his image as a fun person where American people loved it. In 2012 presidential election between the President Barrack Obama and Presidential candidate Dr. Ron Paul; Obama, having an image he created within the general public in his first election, easily won the election and became the president of USA for the second time with the help of media portraying Dr. Ron Paul as “an old, boring guy with uncommon libertarian views”. He was also considered as the joke of 2012 election through media and received only a very little coverage. On social media such as Facebook and Twitter, many criticisms were shared against Dr. Ron Paul’s policy about antiwar, anti-abortion and anti-drugs. Many media and new channels criticized saying that he wouldn’t be able to establish that policy but promoted President Barrack Obama’s health care policy, by name “Obamacare”. It is clear that this influenced people to vote Barrack Obama and break the votes for Dr. Ron Paul (USnews).
It is crucial that when media is involved in foreign coverage, their information provided for people are 35% inaccurate and 20% is false information and 40% of the whole news is biased. This creates a false impression about other countries within people. This affect in politics directly because there are incidents where governments of different countries had come to collapse with each other creating wars. The most deadly attack on America since today or the 9/11 attack which took many lives of American civilians including the lives many children as well as many other foreigners; done by the guidance of Al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama Bin-Laden in 2001, the American media accused of Iraq government to take responsibility of the attack when all the other terrorists groups hesitated to take the responsibility when the attackers were unknown. The American government criticized the Iraq government saying that they supported terrorist and funded them to make the attack. This was broadcasted through media creating a chaos and blooming up ethnic wars inside the United States. Muslims were massacred in some states creating the perspective of racism within the civilians minds. In 2003 Al-Qaeda took the responsibility of the attacks. This incident affected in the political change of the USA government due to the hatred of people against the government. With this false news and chaos through media, many civilians petitioned against the government, and pressed against it.
A research conducted in 2003 by FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) stated that network news disproportionately focused their attention on pro-war sources leaving out the anti-war sources (Commonwealth Institiute). According to the research reports by FAIR, 64% of the media coverage was favoring the Iraq war while only 10% of sources made up to ant-war. Only 3% of the total media networks from US were anti-war. The study further stated that “viewers were more than six times as likely to see a pro-war source as one who was anti-war; with U.S. guests alone, the ratio increases to 25 to 1 (Commonwealth Institiute). In 2004 the liberal national media watchdog group FAIR released another research report stating that the former government or the current government or the military officials accounted for 76% of total 319 news sources for news which aired about Iraq wars on network new channels. US even designated the Hezbollah affiliated media AL-NOOR radio station and AL-MANAR Television Station as terrorist entities through legislative language and a supportive letter to President George Bush signed by 51 senators on March 23, 2006.
Media bias is known to affect female candidates who run for presidential elections. Recent studies had proved that media coverage for male candidates in elections is much higher than for female candidates. It is clear that in the campaigns for the presidential election between Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton, many media channels supported Trump and coverage him and his campaigns more. Many criticisms were made against Hilary Clinton. She had accused the famous newspaper New York Times for shoddy reporting about her emails. She had further accused of many media channels being biased and providing free air time for Donald trump and criticizing her. “Many in the political media can’t bear to face their own role in helping elect Trump, from providing him free airtime to giving my emails three times more coverage than all the issues affecting people’s lives combined.” (BBC canada). In the election of 2008, where Hilary Clinton competed with Barrack Obama, most influential media supported Obama. Despite the fact that Hilary Clinton had more poll ratings than Barrack Obama, the six most influential newspapers of America cited many stories about Barrack Obama and making him a far more prominent character than Hilary Clinton in the press. In that month, Barrack Obama was the headline of those newspapers. His opinions and policies were favored and honored.
Sarah Palin is another female victim of negative media bias and criticism. Most of the coverage she has received was negative about her. Her character was introduced to the general public as an unsuitable candidate without responsibility. Media mostly focused on her physical appearance and her family. During her campaign for the presidential election, her 17 year old daughter, Bristol Palin became pregnant and media coldheartedly focused on this bashing her parenting skills and bringing up her social life into politics. Media questioned “How can Palin be a good president if she cannot do the duties and cannot be a responsible mother?” furthermore; media criticized her for not staying home and taking care of her sick child who was born with Down’s syndrome (CNN). It was one of the most brutal media bias towards women that scared them away from the arena of politics.
The United States President Donald Trump recently accused of media channels such as CNN for broadcasting critical stories about his administration (businessinsider). Many criticisms are being made for him through media. His policies and work plans are often criticized by many popular media channels. False and inaccurate information about the President Donald Trump is shared on social media and is pressed as newspaper articles (businessinsider). Even though Trump had media support throughout his election campaign, he too had many media channels against him criticizing his campaigns being biased to Hilary Clinton. On a press conference held in Whitehouse on October 31st, 2018, Donald Trump stated that the media is The Enemy of People. He too stated that not all journalists, but a large subset of journalists creates fake news (McCarthy, 2018). According to the president, these are the mainstream-media outlets that align with Democrats and treat him as a partisan opponent, resulting in dishonest and inaccurate coverage of his presidency (National Review). A research conducted by Pew Research center has proven that claims made by Donald Trump on the media organizations primarily reporting negative on him. The research show that only 5% of the media recordings were positive, 62% were negative and 33% were neither negative nor positive (Fakkert, 2017). By comparison, coverage of President Barack Obama during the same time period was 42% positive and 20% negative. For President George W. Bush, the number was 22% positive and 28% negative. And for President Bill Clinton, it was 27% positive and 28% negative (Fakkert, The Epoch Times).
During his campaigns and even after Donald Trump was elected as the president in 2016, the media still continued criticizing his acts, ideas and policies being biased to the Democratic party. Recently the media brought up a case and a private issue where they accused Donald Trump to have an affair and sexual misconduct with a porn star by the name stormy Daniels which happened before 25 years back (Hazzel, 2018). They brought up certain allegations against Trump for having an affair with the ex-playboy mate Karen McDougal. This resulted in creating a bad impression and build up more hatred within the civilians of US towards the president.
Another negative bias in the history of media is when the past president Bill Clinton was competing as a candidate for the presidency. Throughout his campaign and subsequent presidency, media reported about his alleged sexual transgressions and former business dealings doggedly. He was criticized for having an affair with his white house intern Monica Lewinsky. The news broke out when it was said that the president was investigated by the independent counsel for his actions which ensued a media storm. The media continuously started criticizing Clinton and questioning his presidency. Many allegations were brought up against the president Bill Clinton accusing him of sexual misconduct over the past years of his presidency. Four other women other than Monica Lewinsky made accusations through media against Clinton. Many media channels bombed against Bill Clinton that even forced him out of presidency (Business Insider).
Another proof of media bias is the Democratic Party presidential primary’s election coverage in 2016 where Hilary Clinton and Bernie sanders competed as candidates to enter the final Presidential candidacy. This was over shadowed by the republican race where negative bias on Democratic Party occurred. On the democratic side each candidate received media coverage on par with their primary results where Clinton received 54% of the media attention and Sanders getting 46% where Clinton pulled ahead (The Frontline). Sanders too received a good coverage. It was the largest favorable margin where a candidate has reached. He was pressed with 59% positive press and only 41% of negative press. Reports of Clinton were more critical where she received 51% positive and only 49% negative and as she clinched the nomination for the final election. As she was nominated many criticisms with 49% positive and 51% negative press was received because the final nominee Donald Trump targeted her speeches (The Frontline). The Republican contest continued to dominate the press no matter what the Democratic candidates did. Even after Trump was presumptively nominated, the Republicans continued to receive coverage than Democrats over shadowing them. This is a development none other than journalist bias.
Media was influential in the past, is in the present and will be in the future. As proved in above paragraphs it is clear that US media is bias in politics. Media can break a candidate. Positive media bias can help in winning an election where negative media bias can influence in losing the election. Some candidates have taken advantage of media bias while some are not still in control of the media. Many media networks criticize or favor a single person or a party. They can influence in changing the opinions in people. They can create different impressions within people about a person or a party in a whole. They can keep a government or nearly force them out spreading news through media changing civilians’ opinions and thoughts. Therefore mass media plays a strong roll in politics being biased.
- Alterman, E. (2003). What liberal media?: The truth about Bias and the news. Basic books.
- BBC canada. (n.d.).
- Business Insider. (n.d.).
- businessinsider. (n.d.).
- CNN. (n.d.).
- Commonwealth Institiute. (n.d.).
- Fakkert, J. (2017, october 6). The Epoch Times. Retrieved from The Epoch Timess: www.theepochtimes.com/media-give-trump-most-negative-presidential-coverage-in-25-years_2327946.html.
- Fakkert, J. (n.d.). The Epoch Times.
- Hazzel, D. (2018, October 13). AP News.
- McCarthy, A. C. (2018). “Enemy of People”. The white House.
- National Review. (n.d.).
- The Frontline. (n.d.).
- USnews. (n.d.).
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