Journalism is a very honorable profession and is arguably one of the most important assets of a functioning democracy. The media is meant to be the conduit for informing the American people of what is happening around the world and in their country. Their job is to research and report on the information that the American people need to hear in order to be informed citizens and voters. Because of this, the profession should be held to a standard that requires integrity and comes with the weight of responsibility. Though, it seems as if the coverage of the 2016 presidential election has left media outlets without any credibility and they have been failing at their mission of serving the public interest. In a time of serious partisanship, the media was the only hope for a well informed voting populus.
The first issue I have with the media in this election is their weird historic obligation to endorse a candidate. Once you have endorsed a candidate, your credibility has gone out the window. You have compromised your content to be directly biased in favor of the candidate of your choosing, making the news less like news and more like opinion, regardless of whether this bias is real or simply perceived.
The Washington Post ran 16 negative stories on Bernie Sanders in 16 hours. Donald Trump receives 23 times the news coverage of any other candidate. Hillary Clinton almost never goes on television for interviews unless they are exclusive and certain criteria are met. Meanwhile, Bernie has drawn crowds of hundreds of thousands of people and received millions of individual donations and yet has faced a near media blackout from the first day of his campaign. Fox & Friends has become a goddamn sitcom. How is any of this responsible media?
People have begun snidely referring to CNN as the Clinton News Network, and while the network has certainly been taking a large amount of the criticism, it’s not just CNN. Chris Matthews, host of Hardball on MSNBC, embarrassingly swoons for Hillary and his personal preference couldn’t be more obvious in his reporting. It’s no coincidence that Chris Matthews is so *heart-eyed emojis* for Hillary Clinton. His wife, Kathleen Matthews, ran for Congress this year in a small suburb on Maryland right outside DC. She publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton, worked rather closely with the Clinton Foundation, has used footage of her interviewing Hillary when she was a reporter in campaign ads, was backed by major Hillary donors, and her campaign was using firms also associated with Hillary. I’m 90% sure her slogan was something like “Kathleen for Hillary.. I mean Congress”
And of course, let us not forget the media’s utter obsession with Donald Trump. Though he is, without a doubt, a fascinating character who defies all logic and is occasionally entertaining as all hell, the majority of the things coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth are hardly newsworthy. Yet, every time I turn the news on, there he his with his smug face and absurd headlines about him defending the size of his genitals. And while we watch Donald Trump proudly show off his hands on a debate stage, we miss the potential for an actual debate based on the real issues impacting Americans.
When it comes down to it, the news is not supposed to be entertaining. The viewership should not be contingent on how attention holding current events are, but with Trump running, news networks have compromised their integrity and sold their soul in pursuit of ratings over content. Trump’s free media coverage for the first nine months of his campaign is estimated to be worth $1.9 billion. According to researched Ev Boyle, Trump received 10 times more mentions than any other single candidate in a single week. As of March, 75% of Americans say Donald Trump has had way too much media coverage. When your own viewership is getting frustrated with your coverage, you know you have a problem.
Another serious problem I have with the media lately is their attempt to discredit candidacies by displaying the number of delegate math needed to win the presidency and including superdelegates in that math as if they are actually relevant at this point in the election. Every time you turn on the news and see a delegate count of Hillary v. Bernie the visceral reaction, the one they want you to have, is “oh wow Hillary is the obvious nominee, Bernie could never catch up when that far behind. I better make my vote count and put it in for Hillary”
The truth is, Bernie Sanders absolutely has a path to the nomination and always has despite the media narrative, though it is one that has become more challenging and narrow as we enter the late stages of the primaries. It would be difficult to argue the media's skewed reporting has not played a part in the electoral outcomes. Since Day 1, they would show Hillary’s delegate number including her 524 her pledged superdelegates. The current count not including superdelegates is this:
Hillary Clinton: 1,716
Bernie Sanders: 1,433
There are still 1,052 delegates at stake and you need 2,383 to win the nomination (including superdelegates). Superdelegates obviously play a part in the election and it does matter that Hillary has so many pledged to her, but they are largely irrelevant at this point in time because they don’t vote until the convention in July. To add them to the delegate count on national media outlets, which has been the case for this entire campaign, and call them definitive would be like polling a state and saying the poll results are the definite election day numbers. What the media often neglects to mention is that superdelegates can switch their pledge to a different candidate anytime until they vote at the convention and history has shown us that their support is often fluid and apt to change given political realities.
The average voter doesn’t know how the delegate system works. Hell, I had to Google half of this myself. When the media plasters a narrative in a viewer's face 24/7, the more susceptible they are to believe that narrative. The media bias is begging you to adhere to the conformity of establishment politics.
You are more likely to turn on a news channel and see what appears to be reality TV than hear about actual current events. If the headline “Donald Trump Has Small Hands, Marco Rubio Says” doesn’t make a serious journalist cringe, perhaps they need to find a new profession. This is not news. The American people do not need to know the size of Donald Trump's hands to be an informed voter and participate in the American electorate. When headlines like this appear over headlines with actual information, it's not only a threat to our democracy, it's an insult to our intelligence.