The results of the recent presidential election have left a lot of Americans- and indeed, people across the globe- completely befuddled. Many people from both sides of the aisle scoffed when Donald J. Trump first announced his candidacy- and now here we are, trying not to grimace when we hear the phrase President-Elect Trump.
Since the election, Trump’s opponents and critics have been asking: who’s to blame for Trump’s rise to power? A lot of fingers have been pointed. Some at Hilary Clinton for being a less-than-desirable alternative, some at third-party candidates who divided Trump’s opposition, and some at the voters themselves.
All of these may well have been factors, but perhaps the most important factor is the role that the media played in Trump’s campaign.
The success of Trump’s campaign can be attributed, at least in part, to media manipulation. Today’s online media seems to be more concerned with what generates site traffic and ad revenue than what is important for readers to know.
“When the news is decided not by what is important but by what readers are clicking; when the cycle is so fast that the news cannot be anything else but consistently and regularly incomplete; when dubious scandals scuttle election bids or knock billions from the market caps of publicly traded companies; when the news frequently covers itself in stories about ‘how the story unfolded’—media manipulation is the status quo.”
The media decides what news we are exposed to- and the more we are exposed to something, the more likely we are to view it as important. And because the media is primarily interested in what will attract the most clicks- things like political scandals, for example- we get more exposure to those things.
That is why we spent months listening to people talk about emails. Clinton’s email scandal attracted interest, so the media reported on it more and it ended up being one of the biggest issues of the election.
At the same time, the media’s coverage gave Trump’s campaign much more legitimacy than it had on its own. Of course, the media wasn’t exactly favorable to Trump. But, as they say, there’s no such thing about publicity.
For months, we could not go a day without hearing about Trump’s latest insult or twitter war. All of this exposure put him in the public’s eye and essentially turned him into a legitimate candidate.
If so many media outlets had not latched onto Trump’s outrageous statements and scandals, and instead focused on his policies, perhaps his candidacy would have died in its infancy.