What the Mass Media Has Done to Elections

Elections around the world have always been a prominent subject in the media. In the U.S., we have extensive experience with this phenomenon, particularly in regards to our presidential elections. Politicians use mass media as a platform to disperse their message to the public and garner attention. In the past this was done through newspapers, then radio; followed by every other advancement in technology that has brought us into a social media world where it is almost impossible to avoid hearing, reading and watching the campaign.

We are currently living through a profound change in how campaigns are run as they seem to get longer every election period and depend more heavily on social media presence to garner attention. The mass media is focused upon maintaining viewership, clicks and whatever else they depend upon to earn revenue and stay in business. In my opinion, this has diluted the coverage of elections to the point that the absurd candidates, such as Donald Trump, are the focus of intense coverage while serious candidates are forced to respond to absurdity rather than projecting their own messages. Before a GOP candidate can speak about their ideas, they must first respond to Trump’s most recent comment that was racist, sexist or some other type of -ist. And what is truly ridiculous is despite the fact that almost all coverage of Trump is negative, he is the current face of the 2016 Presidential Election and according to the polls; he’s winning.

Trump is currently the top contender in the GOP field, according to recent polls, while political jugernaut Hillary Clinton is losing support to social media star Bernie Sanders, the senator from Vermont. Trump and Sanders have polar opposite platforms and political strategies, but both are extremely visible on both social media and in mainstream news because they stand out from the pack. Sanders is running his campaign from a moral high ground, while Trump runs with a complete lack of morals, which has helped keep his name in the news on a daily basis. As a result of the intensive media coverage, Trump is also plastered all over the internet in almost entirely negative ways, such as BuzzFeed games where the player must guess “Who Said It: Trump or Lucille Bluth?” Lucille Bluth is the alcoholic, elitist matriarch on the show Arrested Development…Trump is running for president of arguably the most powerful country in the world.

The quiz in question is actually really difficult, despite the fact that I’m a huge fan of the show and I closely follow politics. But the point of all of this Trump slandering I’ve been doing is that this is not his fault. The mass media has been constantly shoving Trump down America’s throat because of how ridiculous he is and his ability to garner viewership. This has allowed Trump’s nazi-esque rhetoric to pervade the American consciousness, and the saying “There is no such thing as bad publicity” is holding true. This leads me to the question of whether or not placing a heavy focus on candidates like Donald Trump is irresponsible for members of the legitimate press. Is it the responsibility of mass media to tell the stories people should hear, or the stories that they want to hear? If my opinion is of any relevance (since it’s my blog I’d like to think it is), then I would posit that the responsibility of the Fourth Estate is to report news that actually matters to everyone and is issue focused rather than scandal focused.