The media’s role in the 2016 presidential election

by Jose Eduardo Freitas Pereira

We are at the end of what is arguably one of the ugliest presidential campaigns in American political history. The media has played a controversial role in that ugliness.

According to Carl Cannon, executive editor of US political website RealClearPolitics “the 2016 election will be remembered as one in which much of the mainstream media all but admitted aligning itself with the Democratic Party.”

The US public believes that 75.9% of mainstream media would like to see Hillary Clinton elected. Associated Press GfK polls indicate a whopping 56% of voters believe the media has been biased against Trump throughout the campaign.

International Journalism student, Alyssa, 21, says “I feel like I know more reasons not to vote for either…the media has covered both the candidate’s gaffes, scandals and reasons why they are unfit“

International Journalism student, Alahna, 21, says “I do think there is some subjectivity in the media when it comes to this election. But at the end of the day Donald Trump brings it upon himself. He says ridiculous things and makes accusations, so naturally he will get torn apart. Hilary is a “polished politician” so she knows to watch her words.”

With the growing mistrust in US media and journalists, social media takes on an important role in the election. The candidates have both used Facebook and Twitter to attract new voters, advertise rallies, spread news and reach out to the public.

According to Dr Heather Yates, a political science professor at the University of Central Arkansas, “the direct contact on social media has a substantive impact in terms of getting out the vote efforts. That effect is amplified in the digital space compared to the traditional ground game where canvassers go and knock on doors.”

Dr Yates talks about the filter that Facebook friends create.  “While online contact by campaigns is effective, contact with your friends has an even larger impact. If a post originates from a campaign, there is some substantive effect, but if it originates from your friends, there is twice as much impact.”

Regardless of who ultimately wins, media has made its voice heard in this election.


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