By Anna Rhoads ’19
It cannot be denied that the 2016 presidential election process is chaotic. The reason for this is one candidate had no political experience and the other candidate was in the middle of an FBI investigation. There has never been so much to report. It has all been made worse, however, because the media has interfered and become part of the story of the election instead of just reporting the facts about it.
The media is a necessary part of our democratic system, which makes the system work by providing the public with the true, unbiased facts. The system may be in the process of breaking down because the media is presenting the opinions of biased commentators and, alarmingly, becoming part of the story.
The news outlets provide extensive commentary after the debates, many times lasting much longer than the debates themselves. The media has adopted a practice of presenting the views of commentators who are attached to a certain candidate or party. Many times these speakers are more persuasive than their counterparts on the other side and thus the press may use them to inject their opinions into the discussion, very different from just presenting the facts and the candidates’ views. For example in an article about “Journalistic Bias” during the 2016 election PBS states, “An analysis of news coverage from the 2016 primary races found that mainstream media outlets engaged in ‘journalistic bias’ that led to over-coverage of the Donald Trump campaign and under-coverage of Democratic candidates, in particular Sen. Bernie Sanders.” This shows that news outlets purposely covered with bias and presented commentators who were more slanted to one candidate, possibly directing the election in the way they wanted.
Thankfully the public has been clear that they do not condone this bias coming from the media. The Political Insider publication reported that “Fox News, largely thanks to their biased treatment of conservative businessman Donald J. Trump and ignoring Dr. Ben Carson in the GOP debates, has now seen a dramatic dip in their ‘perception’ with the Republican Party’s base.” I hope that the public will continue to catch on to the misconduct coming from the press, like they did when Fox News covered the primaries with bias and lost viewership and trust.
The TV show, “Access Hollywood,” recorded a conversation between Donald Trump and Billy Bush more than 11 years ago. In context, it is obvious from their discussion that the two participants to the conversation did not know they were being recorded and would not have agreed to it. It was a “private moment, with no audience beyond Bush and a few others on the bus” according to The Washington Post. Although the conversation during the video was disgusting and demeaning towards women, The Washington Post released it, becoming part of the news instead of just reporting it. California Penal Code 632 makes it a crime to record conversations “without the consent of all parties,” showing the great lengths the media will go to create a story and not just report it.
The media may believe that we, the public, are not intelligent enough to listen to the candidates and come to our own correct conclusions. Thus, they are willing to attempt to guide us and even become part of the news themselves. This breaks down the trust the public has for the media, and therefore weakens our democracy. Ultimately, the media must become less biased and the people of the nation must recognize the problem.