Tuesday, October 27, 2020

American media’s coverage of 2016 elections appalling

Since my high school days in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the subsequent years at university there, I have never witnessed a greater spectacle than the process of electing a president of the United States.

The confusing electoral progression is most entertaining. 

With the American media as both the unchallenged ringmaster and Master of ceremonies, the election of an American president is a hodgepodge of fanfare, entertainment and politics.

The role the American media plays in molding or destroying a political candidate is very evident and the media enjoys the kingmaker role it plays in this political festival.

As far back as four years ago, Hilary Clinton was considered the front runner for president, not only among Democrats but among all possible contenders from all political parties.

On April 12th, 2015 Mrs. Clinton officially declared a second bid for the presidency, with Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent running as a Democrat, declaring his intention to run 15 days later, on April 30th, 2015.

Some Republicans had already declared their candidacy with Donald Trump declaring his entry into the race on June 16, 2015.

The floodgates were now open!

Going on two years now, the people are still being subjected to and bombarded with TV, radio and newspaper ads from the four campaigns of the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian and Green parties.

Recently, Americans were, once again, dismayed at how other countries can get rid of a leader and democratically install a new one all within a month.

The British experience amazes them.

In June 2016, after more than a year of almost 20 American presidential hopefuls having started campaigning for presidential election to be held on November 8th, 2016 the British held a referendum on Thursday 23 June, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union.

Prime Minister David Cameron wanted Britain to remain in the EU and his side received only 48% of the vote.

Britons who wanted to leave registered 52% of the vote and forced Cameron to leave office. Less than three weeks later, the United Kingdom swore in the new and current Prime Minister, Theresa May.

The Americans are still at it.

On the day, weeks and months that followed his announcement to contest for the presidency, Trump got free media coverage by default: everyone, including the media, were laughing at him.

In Trump, the media was not looking for a presidential candidate but for a moment when the clown would embarrass and vanquish himself into oblivion.

Those moments came almost daily and the media trumpeted Trump’s flawed statements over and over again in an effort to emphasize his stupidity. They thought they were hitting nails into his political coffin but they were reaching the unhappy, the less educated, the poor and middle class Americans who agreed with Trump but were afraid to say it themselves.

When Trump’s first announcement was to declare Mexicans as illegal aliens, rapists and drug lords who are getting a free ride on the American welfare system while stealing jobs from Americans, he hit a nerve and people started attending his rallies in the thousands.

He made more and more unconventional remarks that went against the political grain and he received more and more support until he won the Republican nomination ÔÇô a big feat considering that he knocked out 17 other Republican contenders in the process.

By then, it was too late for the American media who were then forced to treat him seriously.

They did not disappoint and increased their mobbing of him all the time. As a result, it is estimated that Trump has, to date, received over $3 billion worth of free media.

The American media is now just happy to have jumped onto the election train to assume their coveted role of kingmaker but they are still unwilling to challenge Trump’s false statements, lies or to ask follow up questions.

The US media is very attentive when the Republican political machine grinds every minute of every day against Hilary Clinton, repeating unproven accusations over topics such as her role during the killing of American Embassy staff in Benghazi, Libya, her email “scandal”, the Clinton Foundation and even sticking by her former president husband when he had an affair with one Monica Lewinsky.

The media is rightly interested in all accusations against Mrs. Clinton and goes out of its way to get to “the truth”.

That is excellent; that is their responsibility.

What I have a problem with is when they do not do the same with all the other candidates on the presidential platform.

By contrast, Donald Trump has violated the law and paid fines but the media is only now showing signs of wanting to look into it but with little enthusiasm.

Trump has pending court cases but the media hardly brings them up.

Trump or his Foundation are being investigated for paying money to an Attorney General who later stopped proceedings to investigate and prosecute Trump University ÔÇô another case currently before the courts in some states after students reported being duped.

The media treats Trump much much lightly than it does Mrs. Clinton.

Every day, you can count on Trump to say something stupid enough to end any other person’s presidential run but the media does not do much fact checking on him.

The media allows him to get away with so much. 

Two weeks ago, NBC hosted both Clinton and Trump in “a programme to discuss each candidate’s ability to become commander in chief” with NBC newsman Matt Lauer as the moderator.

Lauer asked Clinton “to tell us what qualities she possessed to lead the country “without attacking” her opponent” but when Trump’s turn came, Lauer rephrased the question and, instead, asked Trump to “keep attacks to a minimum.” 

Trump is notorious for lying on the campaign trail and during interviews because he is aware of the fact that American journalists do not do much fact checking during interviews.

Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who will moderate the third and final presidential debate between Clinton and Trump has already declared that, “I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad.”

There is so much bias involved and this has lowered the bar to its lowest level. 

Personally, I find this election to be very uninspiring, not because of the candidates but mostly because of the way the media has evolved to the point of being partisan in their coverage.

Watching Fox News (Conservative), one would not believe the same story as told on NBC (considered Liberal), not to mention CNN which is the most alarmist news network I have ever watched.

Having watched presidential elections for decades, I am very unimpressed by the behavior of the American media today. They have made it uninteresting by taking sides and carefully favouring some candidates over others. 

CNN, for example, has a couple of Trump’s campaign operatives among its group of “analysts”. Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, was hired by CNN as a “conservative commentator” although he still remains on the Trump Campaign payroll.

The role of the American media in this particular election is the worst I have ever witnessed. They fail to hide their bias and become participants in an event they are supposed to be objectively reporting on.

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The Telegraph October 28

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 28, 2020.