Irresponsible media and a train-wreck election
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Interim Opinions Editor
I’ve been writing opinion pieces for years, and have written a lot more in the past couple months. Until now, I’ve not done a whole piece on the racist, fascist, frightening leader, Donald Trump. What can be said that hasn’t already been said? I’m as confused, shocked, and terrified as millions of others around the world of how such an out-of-control megalomaniac has gotten so dangerously close to being the most powerful man in the world.
It’s not just Trump that terrifies—this election features two of the least popular candidates for president running, ever. Hillary Clinton is widely hated on both sides—by Trump supporters, conservatives who hate Trump, and Bernie Sanders supporters alike.
The mainstream media is almost entirely to blame for this ridiculous train-wreck of an election. Above all else, they have given very little coverage of the candidate’s backgrounds and policies. Bernie Sanders is an experienced politician with a progressive agenda going back decades. Hillary Clinton is even more qualified, and has worked in every level of national politics with former and current presidents. Donald Trump has never even been a politician, and has a long history of ripping people off, breaking the law, and sexual harassment/misconduct.
Yet the history and platforms have been completely overshadowed by inflation of the candidate’s image.
“Donald is a rich businessman who speaks his mind and people love it!”
“Hillary Clinton was investigated by the FBI for deleting emails!”
“Bernie Sanders is leading a campaign of people angry with systematic politics!”
All these statements are true, but they are not as important as the candidate’s track record, beliefs, or ability to lead the country. For such an important and powerful office, the media has dedicated very little attention away from the inflated surface profiles of those running.
Political campaigns are directed and influenced by the media portrayal. Bernie Sanders received considerably less attention on his influence or accomplishments than his opponents did. Hillary is repeatedly harassed and vilified by the media, leading to press conference refusals and a public perception of being indifferent and unfriendly. Trump took a different approach, and built his entire campaign on accusing the media of being biased against him.
Due to the US media often dominating internationally, this nightmare election is prominent in general knowledge. However, irresponsible and dangerous media influence happens everywhere. Our own Canadian election last year was constantly overshadowed by the image of the candidates. Justin Trudeau is young, hot, and the son of a previous prime minister. Thomas Mulcair is the angry leader of the NDP. Stephen Harper is our current, boring prime minister, and is seeking a fourth term. Detailed coverage of these people’s plans for Canada’s future was an afterthought.
A media that does not depict politics in an informative or honest sense isn’t just irresponsible, it can be incredibly dangerous. It leads to people like Donald Trump becoming presidential candidates. It leads to legitimatizing a voice and platform of nationalism, racism, and xenophobia. The more camera-time and attention we give to politicians and campaigns that pledge to ban Muslims, immigrants, and refugees from the country, the more this attitude takes root. It spreads misinformation, ignorance, and above all, intolerance.
It’s no wonder so many young people feel frustrated, powerless, and disinterested when it comes to politics. We don’t understand how the process really works, and we don’t know why insane, incompetent candidates are allowed to run for office. The news media lies to us and won’t do its primary job of presenting a factual, neutral, and thorough understanding of the democratic process that affects our lives in so many ways.