Mass media plays an instrumental role in influencing the minds of voters based on the way it portrays different candidates. Political temperatures in America have reached fever pitch with the ongoing primaries for both Republicans and Democrats. The role of the media in influencing the outcome of these primaries cannot be underestimated. Donald J. Trump is one of the front runners tipped to become the President of the United States in the upcoming elections. The media, especially the New York Times newspaper, has effectively covered this personality. He has been given maximum coverage, which in turn has enabled his supporters to understand what he supports and what he wants for America once he becomes president. His words in debates and campaigns have been captured throughout the media hence illustrating his attitude toward other candidates and his idea of what being the President of the United States means. Nichols and McChesney’s assertion that the media has commercialized elections into a horserace is absolutely correct given that the New York Times newspaper dated 15th February to 22nd February has done less in highlighting Trump’s true agenda for Americans and has instead focused more on his chances of winning as well as his statements in reaction to other candidates and people he does not agree with.
The New York Times has a tendency to portray Donald J. Trump as the undisputed front-runner of the Republican Party. Considering his background as a wealthy and powerful individual in the country, his statements have always been included in the newspaper with strongly opinionated views illustrating the perception that he is far much ahead and authoritative compared to other candidates in the presidential race. Ahead of every primary or after every primary, his advantage is being implied because of his powerful status as a wealthy and automatically influential leader and consequently presidential candidate. For instance, the 15th issue of the New York Times was titled “Donald Trump Escalates Rhetoric before South Carolina Primary” was mostly based on his reaction to former President George W. Bush’s presidency instead of highlighting Trump’s own agenda for Americans once he becomes president. For instance, Maggie Haberman’s asserts, “It is a vote that, if he wins, could erode the prospects of Republican leader’s stopping his candidacy” (“Donald Trump Escalates Rhetoric”). In this statement, Haberman typically portrays Trump as the mostly likely candidate to bag the Republican Party’s nomination for the presidency. In addition to this statement, she continues portraying Trump as a winning candidate when she writes “If Mr. Trump wins the primary on Saturday, as every public poll shows him on track to do” and also quotes Tony Fabrizio’s comment “It could potentially bring down his margin, but when you’ve got a guy who wins by double digits, does it matter?” (“Donald Trump Escalates Rhetoric”). To a large extent, these statements are working to influence the New York Times reader towards forming a perception of Trump as a likely winner. Thus, this will in a way have a tremendous impact on the voting decision of readers. Therefore, though it may not be intentional, it can be concluded that this newspaper is in truth being biased as it is leaning towards Donald Trump’s chances of winning.
In addition to portraying Trump as the undisputed front runner for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, the New York Times has equally described the business man as a candidate that appeals to the people even despite the crude manner, in which he speaks. To put it more appropriately, Donald Trump is being portrayed as a person who can succeed in anything. He can say whatever he wants, and this will not be consequential to him as the public will still love him. This confirms the biased nature of the media. It has forgotten its duty to highlight the wrong in society including includes unveiling people in the poor choices they make or the wrong things they say, which has the potential to polarize the nation and making people hate each other as Americans. For instance, the New York Times news article “Michael Moore Says No, Donald Trump is Not Like Him” dated February 16th and written by Alan Rappeport highlights this tendency by the media. The author explores Moore’s reaction to being compared to Mr. Trump and in one instance writes about Moore’s opinion of the Republican Party presidential contender antics given his abrasive nature in regard to his words. He reiterates Moore’s words by saying, “Throughout history there have been populists who say a few things that appeal to the masses, especially the working class to get their support” (“Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton”). Moore continues to say, “But he’s in constant performance mode. That’s how you get good ratings” (“Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton”). Therefore, the New York Times contends that there is nothing wrong with Trump’s antics and that the public is charmed and accepts them. Once again, this demonstrates how the media is unfairly influencing the presidential politics.
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The media has participated in sidelining the civic minds of the people and the entire democracy by their continuous act of commercializing the elections into a horse race. Many news articles have more concentrated on the performance of the presidential candidates and in particular on who is leading and who is lagging behind. For example, the February 17th article by Alan Rappeport was entirely about the progress of Donald Trump in the presidential race. The article, which is titled “National Poll Shows Donald Trump with Big Lead and Democrats in Virtual Tie”, discusses how his popularity is continuing to rise nationally according to polls. He discusses the polls conducted by Quinnipiac University as showing Donald Trump to have doubled the support compared to his closest Republic contender (“National poll shows”). The polls showed that Mr. Trump had garnered 39 percent of Republican support across the country compared to Senator Marco Rubio’s 19 percent and Ted Cruz’s 18 percent (“National poll shows”). In addition, the article discusses the candidates making up the bottom tier, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, and Ben Carson. The author comfortably makes opinionated remarks such as “the polls illustrate Donald Trump with his highest level of national support” and “Trump is viewed as the most electable and best leader in the presidential race”. These opinionated views by the author of this article unfairly influence the presidential politics. They are making the public focus more on the race in terms of who is leading and who is losing rather than why they deserve to be winning or losing in the first place.
The 2016 presidential election have further been commercialized by the media and has been turned into a process that has become more of a spectacle than a presidential race composed of rhetorical contests and distraction. In the latest news article by the New York Times written by Alan Rappeport on the 18th February entitled “Donald Trump Calls Pope’s Criticism ‘Disgraceful’”, the author assesses Trump’s reaction to the Pope’s rebuke of his comment about building a wall on the Mexican border that would prevent illegal immigrants from Mexico from entering America. The Pope’s criticism of Trump was introduced during his visit to Mexico where he commented, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian” (“Donald Trump Calls”). Trump reacts to this criticism by portraying the Pope as ignorant with regard to American immigration issues and equally criticizes him for questioning his faith. Once again, the real issues of democracy have been sidelined and instead replaced by matter that is not very significant to the elections. This can be viewed more as Donald Trump’s fighting his personal battles using the media, which has seem to be more than eager to be used for this purpose. Further, this article continues to demonstrate the media’s failure, especially with this presidential election, which is showing it to be more of a drama rather than democracy enthusiast.
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Commercializing elections has caused the media to avoid asking questions that matter. Questions that are related to democracy comprise a significant part of American politics. These are the questions that will force the presidential contenders to highlight in detail their policies and plans for America. These questions will compel the presidential contenders to reveal to the public details about themselves that make them the best choice of America’s next head of state. In addition, these questions are critical in assessing the level of transparency of the presidential candidates. For instance, the question of Donald Trump’s finances is vital considering the financial downturn he has undergone over the years. Most significant are the number of times he has filed for bankruptcy. It is quite unfortunate that this issue is not being covered by the media perhaps because it is too busy sensationalizing the presidential elections. When the issue is raised, it is done in a very unsatisfactory manner. For instance, the New York Times article “Donald Trump Says He’ll Release Tax Returns at Some Point” written by Maggie Haberman on the 19th February portrays Mr. Trump as a trustworthy and transparent individual even though this portrayal to an extent is not factual. The article shares the highlights of Mr. Trump’s interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, in which he insistently asserts that he will release his tax returns to the public soon (“Donald Trump Says He’ll Release Tax Returns”). This insinuates that he is as transparent as he is being introduced in the media and the reality may be that he is having financial difficulties.
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The media persists in its defilement of democracy and continues destroying America by commercializing the presidential elections in its portrayal of Donald Trump as a person with a fighting spirit who recovers and survives despite the obstacles in his path. In the 20th February article “Donald Trump Wins South Carolina Primary; Cruz and Rubio Vie for 2nd”, Martin Jonathan and Burns Alexander comprehensively cover Donald Trump’s victory in South Carolina primarily using opinionated phrases such as a commanding victory, solidifying his position, running ahead to describe the Republican presidential contender’s win. Martin and Burns affirm that Mr. Trump proved in South Carolina that he would not be easy to overcome despite his use of incendiary language and warning signs that showed that he may not receive the support of women and younger voters (Burns). In his win South Carolina, Trump received the support from the most unlikely sources. He won from the independents and self-described evangelical Christians. Thus, despite the fact that situation looked rather bleak, Donald Trump still won. This article shows the biasness of the media in their support of Trump’s candidacy. By highlighting Trump’s tenacity despite the challenges of the race, the media is influencing the presidential politics by indirectly pushing people’s attention and interest towards Donald Trump’s candidacy.
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In their continued agenda of commercializing and sensationalizing the entire presidential election, the media portray Donald Trump as a go getter, that is a person who knows what he wants and thus does not waste time mincing his words but rather goes ahead and says exactly what is on his mind. In Frank Bruni’s New York Times article written on the 21st February “Is there Stopping Donald Trump,” the victory of Donald trump is assessed and linked to his go getter personality. Bruni highlights the responses of some of Trump’s supporters, which he concludes to be the main reason why he is continuously leading the Republican Party’s bid for nomination as the party’s presidential candidate. According to Bruni, some of the people supporting Donald Trump are doing so because they do not care much for his ideology or consistence but rather support him because they want something different and utterly disruptive, which is what Mr. Trump provides. Others make the claim that they are supporting Trump because they want a leader that is fearless since such a leader is more likely to fight for them. However, this coverage of Mr. Trump is not expounding on any tangible democratic issue that will actually help the nation. Once again, the media has proven to be quite vague in its coverage of Donald Trump and overall the entire election process.
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The media continues to sensationalize presidential politics into sources of amusement for the public rather than a means, through which the future of the nation will be decided. The 22nd February article “Trump’s Remarks on Pigs’ Blood Elicit Challenge from Sister of Chapel Hill Victim” by Stack Liam completely covers a significant issue that is affecting the American people and makes it more of a spectacle rather than a serious issue. The issue, which has become one of the nation’s most sensitive topics, concerns the perception of Muslims in America. This topic is highly sensitive given the incongruent relationship, which has been cultivated by terrorist activities and attacks in the US. It has led to increased racial profiling and caused many American Muslims to fear for their lives since they have started to be associated with Terrorism. Liam discusses the story of Dr. Barakat, a Muslim in America whose brother, wife and her sister were killed by an American man Craig Stephens Hicks (Liam). The doctor was reacting to Trump’s comments of dipping bullets in pigs’ blood and using them to eliminate terrorists. Despite its seriousness, this issue is amusing to an extent and has captured public attention as a result of how astonishing it is. Thus, according to this article, despite the author’s intention of highlighting an issue that is significant to America, the response of Donald Trump has derailed this goal. What it has achieved is covering another Donald Trump’s abrasive moment.
In conclusion, Nichols and McChesney’s assertion that the media has commercialized elections is right. This is supported by the fact the media has become preoccupied with the horse race and has as a result become a distracting form of entertainment instead of a tool that is meant to safeguard democracy by asserting its significance, especially during this election time. The media’s portrayal of Donald Trump as an undisputed front runner, a go getter, survivor, and the people’s favorite transparently demonstrates this notion. This further illustrates media biasness towards Donald Trump as it fails to discuss many of his failures as a presidential candidate. In addition, the media has placed more focus on the antics the presidential candidate is doing in his campaign rather than real issues that deserve attention such as his policies for the country once he becomes president.