Media and Voters Are Match Made in Hell
It is fair to say that our country has never seen a presidential election quite like the one we saw this year. Between the presidential candidates themselves and the media coverage, the race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was one of the most unique elections in recent memory.
With respect to the media coverage and the relationship to their audience, it is accurate to say the coverage of this election was significantly different than elections past.
The first reason for this is the growing distrust of the media throughout this election’s campaign season. While it is relatively known that the American public has a difficult time trusting news organizations, specifically cable news outlets, it seems that distrust was at a skyrocketed level during this year’s political cycle.
In an article from September of this year from research group, Gallup, a new poll suggested that Americans’ trust in mass media has fallen to an all-time low.
Gallup’s poll claims that 32 percent of Americans have a “great deal or fair amount of trust” in the mass media, which is 8 percent lower than last year. Along with that, Gallup’s survey also uncovers some information about trust from political party members as well as the youth.
In 2016, Republicans now have a lower trust in their media sources than their counterparts in the Democratic party. Gallup claims that this could because of the overwhelmingly amount of negative coverage about Donald Trump (something that will be touched upon later). Whether or not this is actually the case, about 14 percent of Republicans trust the media as opposed to 32 percent who trusted it last year.
Trust among younger and older Americans has also dropped according to this poll. While older people are more trusting than the younger demographic, it is clear that trust among all groups of people, regardless of age, have dropped since last year.
In a poll conducted at Quinnipiac University, many of the same conclusions were drawn. Fifty-five percent of their voters polled said the media was biased against Republican candidate Donald Trump, while 42 percent said there was no noticeable bias. Plus, about every nine of 10 Republicans agreed that the media was against Trump while three out of four democrats disagreed with that claim.
Whether this is a result of a hostile media phenomenon, which is a theory that people with preexisting values will view media as partisan against their viewpoints no matter what, or the media is actually biased, it’s one idea to keep in mind.
However, it is important to keep in mind that media bias is most definitely a real thing.
Media bias is what is sounds like; the idea that media is biased towards one particular issue/topic/person, and in the case of this election, one candidate or the other. In this year’s election, it seemed clear that mainstream media was biased in favor of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, and a study by the Huffington Post expresses much of the same idea.
In this election, media bias most certainly influenced the voter turnout according to the Huffington Post. Because many media outlets framed Clinton as a shoe-in to win, expressing their media bias, it led to a decrease in Democratic voter turnout, because Hillary’s win was automatically assumed. And what makes sense on the flip side, Republicans who thought media was skewed against Trump because of his series of shenanigans, were “more likely to vote.”
So what does this all mean? Does this mean that the influence of the media is at an all-time high? Well, maybe. This has been one of the first elections we’ve seen this kind of role by the media.
With the continuing distrust of the media and with the bias that it appears to take on, who knows how future election and election coverage will play out.
This may have been a rare case because of this particular election season, but it is clear that the media had an impact on voters’ mindsets and their turnouts. This campaign season was definitely one for the history books.