Media bias can be described as the prejudice of news producers and journalists in selecting stories and events to report and how they will be covered. Political bias has been a standard feature since the inception of mass media and the invention of the print press. Historians explain that publishers primarily serve the interests of powerful social groups or politicians. Same as the newspapers, broadcast media, television, and radio have been used as propaganda tools from the earliest day. The practice was even more profound during the initial ownership of broadcast platforms by national governments.
Tim Groseclose and Jeffrey Milyo’s media bias perspective demonstrates that media impacts in the United States play a critical role. The authors lament that media and journalism in the country tend to manipulate the thinking of ordinary Americans since they are more liberal than conservative when it comes to politics. Furthermore, their political bias is outrightly visible, and it shapes the nation’s politics by pushing further an average US citizen to the left. They highlighted two scenarios when the media and journalism had a political undertone during the election of George Bush senior in 1992 and Barack Obama in 2012.
I am afraid I have to disagree with this statement by Groseclose and Milyo since several incidences show that the media outlets try to inform the public of what happens in American politics. There is also a more comprehensive coverage and exposure of any issues that happened to candidates even during the times they were not in the limelight. Somehow by the end of the 2016 election pitting Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, more people alleged the media were biased against their political side (Goidel et al., 2021). In most instances, people feel there is bias when their candidate or the political side supports negative media coverage or is exposed in a bad light.
Negative Ads in Politics
Mudslinging or negative campaign is spreading negative information concerning an individual to damage their public image. Deliberate spreading of negative information may be motivated by either an honest desire to warn the public or just for competition to win the seat. Various methods are used in the negative campaign, such as advertisements that attack the opponents, record, personality, or opinion. The most common types of ads used in the negative campaign include contrast and attack. The rising intensity and volume of negative ads reflect legal deviations in how campaigns are funded.
Distortions, negative ads, and insults in politics may not go anywhere soon, but I would not use them as a candidate due to personal moral obligation. The human mind is wired to remember and seek out negative information; however, it is essential to change the narrative now. Somehow, candidates and parties excessively use negative information to boost their winning chances (Haselmayer, 2019). In the 2016 US election, an ad circulated of a candidate collapsing on the dais, which was purported to be a lack of stamina. The ideal is wrong since it also touches on ethical issues where health matters should be treated in privacy. That is why I would not run negatives ads, especially on opponents’ health issues.
It is tempting for a candidate to reply after being on the receiving end of the negative political ads. In light of global proliferation and heightened public dialogue about potential adverse effects on democracy, the negative ads have flourished in the past decades (Haselmayer, 2019). Nonetheless, as a responsible candidate, I would not retort to negative ads on my competitors, as I elaborated earlier, due to moral and ethical obligations. On the other hand, I would use damage control strategies to discredit the misinformation.
An election exit poll can be described as a survey based on interviews with voters as they are exiting their balloting locations. A sample of a small voting unit commonly known as polling locations or precincts is drawn to estimate the results of an election in a specific constituency. After that, an interview is assigned to a sample location during Election Day. A fundamental exit poll question mainly collects three types of data including:
- How respondent has voted,
- Attitudes held by the voter on essential issues,
- Voter’s demographic, such as gender, age, race, and education level.
Exit polls have their advantages and disadvantages, and every political side tries to utilize them to capture the voting intention of the undecided voter. Reporters usually strategically stand near the polling stations exiting doors and ask voters directly whom they have just voted. The answers received are calculated and fed to the live broadcasts to inform viewers where the race is headed since there is a constant flow of information ahead of the count. Exit polls are most likely to be accurate if there is a clear leader. They can also help in detecting fraud and attracts scrutiny.
On the flip side, exit poll cannot rely since sometimes there are improperly used to discourage undecided voters from voting. They are also less predictive and inaccurate when the race is close, leading to manipulation and bias (Iqsresearch, 2021). Exit polls are not suitable for democracy as they have been constantly used to make a biased opinion on an individual candidate or party. They also intrude on individual voters’ privacy, whereby voting decisions in a secret-ballot system should remain confidential.
Reasons Why Americans Are not Better Informed about Politics
American citizens consume and preserve the political news differently, and it has an impact on how they behave, think, and vote. Most conversant voters are in the age group of 50-70 years old, and educated white males above 47 years old are the best informed, while the least informed are young voters and low-income minority women (Somin, 2016). The enormous scope, complexity, and size of the current government make it hard for a relatively informed voter to know small fractions of issues. The other reason is that politically apathetic individuals do not bother what the government or politicians are doing.
Basic political knowledge is a fundamental variable in the United States political research. Ideally, persons with higher political knowledge show essential behaviors to a well-functioning democracy. Informed people hold better political opinions, they exhibit excellent ideology constraint, and they know more about politician seeking the elective post and are likely to vote appropriately. There is a generational variance between citizens raised during the broadcast era and the present ones during the internet era (Kleinberg & Lau, 2019). Most young generation relies on the internet to store and retrieve information.
A positive correlation between political participation and conceptualizations of politics suggests that when there are more issues that individuals perceive as politics, they will be involved. Nevertheless, differences in the knowledge available to the population hinder people’s participation in political matters. Levels of political knowledge impact democratic principles while also affecting political participation and attitudes toward particular issues. Evidence demonstrates that political participation is partly shaped by educational attainment (Kleinberg & Lau, 2019). Moreover, traditional classroom-based civic education may critically enhance political knowledge.
Goidel, K., Davis, N., & Goidel, S. (2021). Changes in perceptions of media bias. Research & Politics, 8(1), 205316802098744. Web.
Haselmayer, M. (2019). Negative campaigning and its consequences: A review and a look ahead. French Politics, 17(3), 355-372. Web.
Iqsresearch. (2021). The pros and cons of relying on exit polling in elections. Iqsresearch.com. Web.
Kleinberg, M., & Lau, R. (2019). The importance of political knowledge for effective citizenship. Public Opinion Quarterly, 83(2), 338-362. Web.
Somin, I. (2016). The ignorant voter. Forbes. Web.