Impacts of the media
The 2016 presidential election was one of the most polarizing that the United States has ever witnessed, and the mainstream media undoubtedly contributed to the sense of division by stirring up controversies. From oversampling in polls to presenting fake news as legitimate breaking stories, the mainstream media failed in their role as the unbiased fourth estate, both during and after the election.
A media industry introducing groundbreaking and controversial content is hardly a new or foreign concept. Newspapers, television networks and online periodicals have done so for decades. In the 1970s, The Washington Post released incriminating evidence linking President Richard Nixon to illegal surveillance of the Democratic National Committee’s Watergate office, and this information eventually led to his near-impeachment and resignation.
However, the mainstream media of today is releasing controversial stories that are simply untrue. Donald Trump allegedly engaging in sexual misconduct with Russian prostitutes—false. Yet that story was released by both Buzzfeed and CNN. Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, meeting with Russians in Prague—fake news. It is the duty of the mainstream media and investigative journalists to provide stories that are true, not fake stories that serve as “click-bait.”
There has also been a recent series of unfortunate “mic-cuts” conducted by television news networks when a contributor or interviewee says something that does not align with the network’s often “left-leaning” agenda. When Brianna Keilar, a correspondent for CNN, began reporting on Hillary Clinton’s vulnerabilities as a candidate—including her past reference to African Americans as “superpredators”—her feed was immediately cut off. A similar incident occurred when Congressman Carl Collins called Clinton “two-faced” and began talking about Wikileaks’ potentially damaging evidence against her. His feed was cut off mid-broadcast, and anchor Chris Cuomo remarked sarcastically, “oh no, that sucks.”
A number of supposedly reputable media sources also deliberately edited sound bites over the course of the election. For example, when President Donald Trump called Mexicans drug dealers and rapists, most members of the media cut out the part where he said “And some, I assume, are good people.” The omitted portion by no means justifies his gross over-generalization of Mexican immigrants, but it is still crucial information for a viewer to understand the whole story.
When it comes to news—especially political news—Americans have a right to know the whole story. And when it comes to reporting that story, media outlets have a moral obligation, as the fourth estate, to provide the facts and allow the American people to form their own opinions.
Image by Imgur user WildYucatanMan.