How the news media is losing control of political coverage
Posted August 6, 2016
It's been a rough political season for media outlets.
The 2016 presidential race has been more rife than most with suspicion and dislike of the media, as the debate season highlighted. The CNBC-moderated debate in October reflected a particular public scrutiny of the media.
"On Twitter, four of the top five moments involved times when candidates criticized the moderators or the media. And on Facebook, the top social moment was an attack on the questions being asked," Politico reported at the time.
Candidates didn't shy away from the topic of media bias, either.
"The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media," candidate Ted Cruz said in the October debate. "This is not a cage match ... The questions shouldn’t be getting people to tear into each other.”
Cruz may have been right. A poll released in late June from Saint Leo University found that 86 percent of respondents believe that "news media have their own political and policy positions and attempt to influence public opinion," and Gallup has consistently reported a downturn in the public's trust in media organizations.
Now, that distrust is manifesting itself in different and problematic ways. The 2016 race has seen journalists pushed to the sidelines of events in unprecedented ways, most notably on Trump's campaign trail, where reporters were relegated to small corrals and given little information. Trump has changed the game of political coverage by being choosy about the terms of his interviews — seldom giving in-person interviews and dodging direct questions.
Now, the Democratic National Committee has stepped over the news media completely this year by hiring its own correspondents to produce exclusive behind-the-scenes coverage designed specifically for social media platforms.
"The creation of a team to produce original content that resembles news coverage is the latest attempt by a presidential candidate to bypass major news networks and speak directly to voters," the New York Times reported.
The question now is, with politicians controlling much of what is said about them on social media and disguising their message as news coverage, how informed will Americans be about the next president of the United States?
"By harnessing social media platforms to distribute hours of live video to hundreds of millions of potential followers, the Clinton campaign is poised to deliver a convention message more fully under its control," the Times reported.