Media, parties misrepresent campaigns

Grace Marion, Editor-in-Chief


A September Gallup poll showed that just four in ten Americans trust the mass media to report news fully, fairly, and accurately. This rate ties the historic lows set in 2012 and 2014. In 2004, Pew research showed that 70 percent of Americans believe that there is a great deal, or fair amount, of media bias in news coverage- and they’re right.

Since the announcement of his candidacy, Donald Trump has had a total of 212,090 mentions total on Al Jazeera America, Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN, Comedy Central, FOX Business, FOX News, LinkTV and MSNBC. Clinton has had 141,917 mentions in the same bases, Bush 80,136, Sanders 41,538, Carson 37,066, Rubio 36,898, Cruz 25,256, all the way down to Jim Gilmore at 416, according to a data compilation started by The Atlantic in August. Lawrence Lessig’s mentions were not enough to tally.

With Trump consistently polling over Cruz and Rubio, according the RCP polling average, it makes sense that he is mentioned much more often in the media than they- but it seems there is no other correlation in coverage. Cruz and Rubio are both polling far ahead of Bush and Carson, but have received leagues less airtime than the two. These discrepancies go far beyond airtime.

Minutes after the January Iowa town hall meeting, headlines such as “Sanders: Bill Clinton’s scandals ‘totally disgraceful’”, and “Sanders attacks Clinton on sex scandal,” were strung up across every Twitter feed in America. These headlines were based off of Sander’s response to questioning about the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and make it appear as if Sanders had been quite disrespectful towards the Clintons.

“Look, Hillary Clinton is not Bill Clinton. What Bill Clinton did, I think we can all acknowledge, was totally, totally, totally disgraceful and unacceptable. But I am running against Hillary Clinton. I’m not running against Bill Clinton.” Sanders said. In this case, it may be argued that the headlines were at least somewhat representative, but in most others that argument is unavailable.

The American public, as shown above, understands that bias exists within today’s media, there is another group that effects the elections- political parties.

Sanders Campaign employee Josh Uretsky, in December, violated protocol by crossing a firewall that had been lowered by NGP VAN, the independent polling company used by the DNC, to access Clinton Donor information.

Following this, the DNC imposed strict consequences on the Sanders campaign. They would not be allowed to access any voter or donor information, even their own. Sanders sued the DNC for access the next day and demanded a full investigation into the matter, as Uretsky had been recommended to his campaign by the DNC and NGP VAN. The head of the DNC at the time, Debbie Wasserman Shultz, contributed greatly, in a financial sense, to the Clinton campaign. She has stepped down from her position in recent weeks.

In September, polling at over 1 percent according to Daily Kos reports, the level at which a candidate was required to meet to participate in the first Democratic Debate of this election cycle, Lessig raised $1 million dollars in under 30 days, directly after announcing his candidacy. The DNC, thereafter, refused to include Lessig on any polls, to publish his press releases, or to allow him on debates.

Perhaps it was how Lessig planned his Presidency that led the DNC to reject him. He would enact finance reform; criminalize the bribing of government figures, which is currently legal in the United States; work to repeal the Citizen’s United ruling; then resign. This was basically a long-form plan to rid the country of Super PACs. As a result of his exclusion, after several months, Lessig dropped out of the race.

It appears from this that the more money a candidate has, the better represented they are in the media, and in that, the less they threaten the wealth of their party, the better they are treated by said party.

With the ruling on Citizen United, in which corporations were deemed ‘people’, and the removal of donation caps to campaigns through yet another Supreme Court ruling, it has become easier and easier to corrupt electoral systems.

Because of this, it seems that Lessig was right, after all- for money is power, and power corrupts.