Monday, October 10, 2016


What we are now witnessing in the 2016 U.S. presidential
election is an unprecedented media coup d’etat as many of
the combined media forces (but not all of its members) are
attempting to determine the next president before the voting
takes place.

I want to make clear that I have not endorsed either Hillary
Clinton or Donald Trump, and that I have criticized each of
them on occasions when I thought it was fair and appropriate.
I found Mr. Trump’s  recently released video tape comments
to be crude and unacceptable, and I found some of Mrs.
Clinton’s comments in the release of texts from her speeches
to be inappropriate and seriously wrong-headed.

Those are only my opinions, and I know they are not shared
in many cases by partisans of each candidate. Nonetheless,
I don’t feel it is my job or prerogative to tell my readers how
to vote in this election.

Unfortunately, many newspapers, magazines, major and cable
TV and radio networks are  choosing to take part in an attempt
to influence the outcome of the election way beyond what I
think are the acceptable standards of the media’s role in a
presidential election. To be fair, it is not only the liberal media,
but some in the conservative media as well who have joined
into this endeavor.

This has taken the forms of days and weeks of one-sided
press coverage (I distinguish that from editorial opinion), hours
of relentless and repetitious broadcasts of the most salacious
material about Mr. Trump while downplaying equally serious
material from Mrs, Clinton’s hitherto unpublished speeches
and e-mails, obviously biased moderators of the TV debates
so far, and generally one-sided coverage of the campaign itself
once the primary/caucus season was concluded, Before that,
the media clearly overplayed its coverage of Mr. Trump, and
did so mostly uncritically, giving him an unfair advantage
against his Republican nomination opponents.

I make a distinction between opinion writing and reporting
journalism. It is understood that some are writing with a
partisan point of view. My attention here is directed to those
who presume to be addressing their readers and audiences
without unfair bias.

Media bias is nothing new. Polling of reporters show that an
overwhelming majority of them are liberals and Democrats.
(Decades ago, it should be noted, most in the media were
conservatives and Republicans.) Balanced coverage is perhaps
an unrealistic expectation, but the behavior of so many media
institutions in 2016 goes beyond mere bias. The front page is
not the editorial page.
No wonder all polls of public attitudes
show trust in the media to be so low.

It is understandable that much of Donald Trump’s manner, and
many of his words, turn off media and establishment elites in
both parties. It is fair to criticize him for his lapses. But Hillary
Clinton also speaks controversially and has made egregious
mistakes. To try to pretend that she does not have equally low
credibility is unjustifiable.

Fortunately, the final say in an election rests with the voters.
Donald Trump might well lose on November 8 because he was
not able to persuade enough voters that he should be president.
Perhaps he will make a comeback. It is not up to the media,
however, to try to predetermine that result by bullying the public
into their own way of thinking.

For whatever reason history has presented the American
electorate with two such flawed nominees, it is up to the voters
to sort this dilemma out on their own.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.


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