The media’s impact on politics

June 13, 2019

The critically acclaimed novel and movie “The Hunger Games,” created by Suzanne Collins, tells the dark story of Katniss Everdeen, who has to survive in a life-death scenario between her and 23 other teenagers, with only 1 winner on top. This is caused by the Capitol, who have complete and utter control over the districts these teenagers live in. This scenario can be paralleled with a real-life story happening right before our eyes: political candidates fighting for office.

The media has always actively talked about politics. We learn from the media about what new laws the president passed, the different new laws being made, what the Congress is doing, what the president is doing and so much more.

Have we ever stopped to question if the media’s influence is bad? Since we spend so much time listening to the media, have we ever stopped to ask ourselves if the media has slowly been corrupting us to think a certain way? The fact that we have solely conservative and solely liberal media networks contradicts what the media is there for: to give unbiased opinions.

From Washington to Trump, the media has a lot of pull on how citizens see the president. The media likes to use Yellow Press as a way to convince citizens that the U.S. president is always lying, or always is doing something wrong, instead of trying to unite people together to stand for our country.

The media uses its publicity and amount of power in the public eye to invoke bias on political stories based on that network’s beliefs.

The History

The media is influential to us in many ways. It’s all around us. On our phones, laptops, TV’s, magazines and newspapers, anything that is connected to the internet in any remote way. It has become such an influential part of our lives, in ways we realize, and ways we don’t realize.

From all the way back into the 1600s, the media has been around us. The media is a term for where all of our information comes from: like newspapers, the internet, and magazines. These media outlets tell us the news, and what’s happening in the world. Sometimes, the media we’ve seen this be a spark of interest in a lot of conflicts throughout our world’s history.

Take the U.S.S Maine for example. For all who don’t know, the U.S.S. Maine was a ship that mysteriously exploded and killed about 200 men and officers in 1898. “The Yellow Press, led by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, proprietors of the New York Journal and the New York World, took every opportunity to inflame the situation with the exhortation to ‘Remember Maine’, publicize the alleged cruelties of Spanish repression and encourage a belligerent hunger for action,” states History Today, although no one was proven responsible for what happened.

However, we cannot include all of the good that has come out of the media. When media is used for the correct reasons, and is used to make people more aware of what’s happening in the world, it helps bring people together to stand up for their beliefs.

In the Progressive Era, when people started to become more technologically advanced, Muckrakers started to arise. Muckrakers are influential journalists, people who go undercover to uncover and expose businesses and let the public know how they get their food, how different corporations run their industries.

Upton Sinclair was one of these Muckrakers. His book, The Jungle, exploited and exposed the meatpacking industry. It followed a man by the name of Jurgis Rudkis, an immigrant working for this meat packing industry.  

As the CRF (Constitutional Rights Foundation) says, “Jurgis saw men in the pickling room with skin diseases. Men who used knives on the sped-up assembly lines frequently lost fingers. Men who hauled 100-pound hunks of meat crippled their backs. Workers with tuberculosis coughing constantly and spit blood on the floor.”  After the book was released, Roosevelt put limits on how much workers worked and gave them free rights, and also changed how the meat would be inspected. Sinclair changed the world for the better, proving that sometimes journalists can do good instead of harm.

Sinclair showed how journalism and media, in general, can be a good impact on society, and the information that we know.

However, Yellow Journalism has shown how the media can be a bad impact on society. Yellow Journalism according to Wikipedia, is “associated newspapers that present little or no legitimate well-researched news while instead using eye-catching headlines for increased sales.”  In the case of the 2020 election, this has a bad impact on society.

The 2020 Election

On the left: the Republican “mascot” which is a elephant On the right: the Democratic “mascot” which is a donkey

24 Democrats and 2 Republicans are running for president, according to Ballotpedia. As you can see the margins between the two numbers are quite high, 12:1. This is partly to do with the Democratic party feels threatened by Trump, because he was a Republican and they disagreed with a lot of his decisions.

 

Throughout all of the 2016 presidential election, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were battling it out for the chance to be in office. This became huge in 2016. Merchandise was created, there were full online debates, people’s lives were altered if you didn’t share one of these opinions, or shared a different one from what others thought was right. Friendships were broken and families split apart.

Of course, the media isn’t the villain in all of this, however, it is quite the accomplice. Not only does it forwardly progress people into a near riot, but it also puts people into the position of being sorted into categories. The media uses this as a way of getting publicity and making people get so crazy over a supposed “rumor.”

In the 2020 elections, it isn’t getting much better. With so many candidates so far to dissect, it’s a lot like the beginning of a reality TV show. The media, however, has resorted to stereotyping some of the people and selecting to talk and promote someone if they’re different in any sort of way so that now, some people are pulling ahead while others are following behind.

Joe Biden, former Vice President

Bernie Sanders, former U.S representative

For instance, the two candidates who have made an impressionable way into the 2020 election right now are Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Why are they so impressionable? Because we’ve already seen them before. Joe Biden ran and was elected for vice president alongside President Obama, and most likely has the most knowledge when it comes to the election. The other would be Bernie Sanders, who came out as what would be “3rd place” in the last presidential election, losing to both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Other than that, some people don’t know a whole lot about the presidential election

Shoshanna Hirschmann, a freshman says, “I don’t know a whole lot, I know that there are a million people running for the Democratic vote.”

A lot of people only really know the basics of what is happening right now, however as the summer goes on we will really be able to see who the media will float too, and show as the “top-dogs.”

Trump, our “bad guy”

Trump was always a popular subject that any form of media loves to talk about. Usually most Conservative and Republican-bound media like to talk about how he is a good president and how he is doing so many things right for the U.S.A. However, more Liberal and Democratic media like to talk about how Trump doesn’t know what he is doing, and how he is our “bad guy.” Now more than ever, both the Republican and Democrats are split on how to handle issues that our country is faced with, and that makes them fight for who gets control over the executive position.

For some people, they may not remember this, but when Obama was elected as president, he wasn’t able to get his plans through for the country because the Republicans controlled Congress, so they did not agree with what Obama was doing for the country. Because of this, nothing got done, and honestly, people were upset.

Some people feel as if Democrats and Republicans have become two different things and stand for two different things from what it once was when it started. What it means to be a Democrat is to promote equality for all and for the government to be involved in the country. What it means to be Republican is to believe that the government should not be as involved in the country, and for people to have lower taxes. Usually, their stance on more progressive movements like gay marriage is more conservative.

What does this all mean? Well, for one we blow Democrats and Republican views out of the water. The fighting and hate for each party against each other are fueled by the media, calling the other party the “bad guy.”

Nick Kloor, a freshman, explains “If you want to fully understand all politics you have to watch news from both sides… if you look at MSNBC or CNN although they’re showing the news, also a lot what they talk about instead of what Trump might be doing in office they’re talking about what a crazy lunatic he is.”

Trump is seen as this hero for Republican media, like Fox news, and is put on a pedestal that sometimes, he shouldn’t be on.  In a poll done by Buisness Insider, Fox News “earned a -87 bias score among Democrats and those who lean Democratic. But among Republicans and those who lean Republican, Fox News was polled as the least biased news organization, with a +3.” we know that there media is more or less put towards more republican views, whereas something like MSNBC is more democratic. “Democrats and those who lean Democratic gave MSNBC a -1 bias rating, Republicans and those who lean Republican gave it a -85.” This shows that bias is a real thing, that affects an outcome, like what’s happening with Trump.

Carmen Simons, a junior, shares an opinion on why the news is so biased towards and against Trump. “Most news broadcasts their jobs to get as many views as possible and if that comes more from sensationalism than good reporting than, of course they’re going to love Trump because [Trump] gives them the most sensationalist and craziest things to report.”

This has been done before…

Trump is not the only one who used the campaigning strategy of “Make America Great Again.” The first presidential candidate (and eventual president) who used a statement like that first was President Ronald Reagan. However, there is a difference in how both presidents use ideology.

Ms. Strassler, U.S History teacher, explains, “ The most famous Ronald Reagan TV commercial was all these things showing American pride, it had a rancher with a horse… it had people going to work… [saying] it’s morning in America again… Ronald Reagan ran [his election] on don’t you wanna feel good about the United States?” She then later explains how Trump uses that statement for his election “Trump’s Make America Great implied getting rid of things that were making America bad.”

You can also look at the different campaign pictures each presidential candidate (and president) used while running for president. For instance, usually, candidates use a picture and then puts a quote, or word at the end like Obama, who has a picture of himself, and then his campaign slogan which was “hope.” He is a person who invokes hope in others.

Trump’s campaign picture, however, does something different. He, of course, has his name and then his slogan “Make America great again,” however his picture is not shown anywhere on the picture. You could make the connection that he thinks people will know who he is. You could also say the same for Obama

Trump’s campaign poster

Obama’s campaign poster

because it never actually says his name anywhere on the poster. This tells us who these people are. For Obama, he doesn’t want people to know who he is, but the policies he will put in America to make everyone be hopeful again. With Trump, people want him to know his name because he wants to be known as “the person who made America great again.” This is also how the media portrays him.

What does this all mean?

The media has a big impact on how we see people in politics. We use the media in our everyday lives. We basically live off of the internet. Everything we get from the media is biased. You could make the argument that this article is biased against the media.

In the end, advise everyone to dig a little deeper about the information your getting. Try and look out for more conservatively or liberally based media, and check your facts with different media sites. Be more wary about different media outlets.

Finally, like the “Hunger Games,” only one person can come out on top. Like presidency, media outlets, apps, games, movies. Only one can come out on top and shine above the rest. So, instead of having a biased news outlet come out on top for each party, start to put unbiased news outlets and advocate for them too.

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