Recently there have been many allegations towards the media, namely, the backlash of the Republican presidential candidates after the GOP debate October 28. The moderators of the debate, which was aired on CNBC, were criticized by the Republican nominees for their constant “gotcha” questions, designed to make the candidates look bad. In addition, Sen. Marco Rubio stated, “…the Democrats have the ultimate Super PAC; it’s called the mainstream media…” Criticism comes not only from the Republicans, but also from many Democrats who argue that media platforms like Fox News and Washington Times are very far right in terms of what they choose to cover.
But more importantly, this begs the question, “What role should the media really have in politics?” The mainstream media today is the most powerful it has ever been. In addition to printed publications, we now have the great jungle of social media, a bandwagon most candidates are happily jumping on. There are also more media platforms and publications out now than ever before. As a result, the profession of journalism has become less about simply providing information and more about luring readers into a gossip trap, overhyped with controversial statements with a bit of truth accidentally mixed in. This disaster of a recipe is unfortunately also backed by personal interests.
Of course, to say media shouldn’t be biased is ridiculous at the very least. It is therefore the responsibility of the reader to discern facts from fiction. But is the media making that unreasonably difficult for us? Are the presidential candidates making that unreasonably difficult for us?
None of the presidential candidates seem to have a clear agenda. Mainstream media is clouded with controversial topics of nothingness that, quite frankly, the candidates practically feed to them. An illustrious surgeon like Ben Carson made a statement saying he “would not advocate we put a Muslim in charge of this nation…if they are not willing to reject sharia…and subject that to American values and the Constitution…” Donald Trump (you knew this was coming!) made comments about Mexican undocumented immigrants being rapists and bringing drug and crime to America. With statements like these, the media hardly has to put any effort into sensationalizing the election rat race.
But still, I firmly believe the media should maintain as neutral of a stance as they can and only cover relevant news. Talking about the aforementioned comments is no doubt important, but giving them more attention than necessary is irritating. Contrary to what most presidential candidates believe, “gotcha” questions are imperative. It is the responsibility of the media to display a candidate’s character as truthfully as possible, not by means of speculation, but by good, intellectual questions that will differentiate a good president from a good manipulator.
Ask each presidential candidate where they get their own news from. Ask them specific questions about what issues are close to their heart. Ask them what they disapprove of regarding the current political situation of the United States, and how they plan to fix that. Ask them to discuss the pros and cons of their plans, and why they believe the pros outweigh the cons. These seemingly sensitive questions are the only relevant ones. It is important to note that “sensational” topics attract bored people, not intelligent ones.
Because of the great powerhouse mainstream media has become, it is important journalists take full advantage of that for the greater good. Reporters need to shift their focus to more relevant topics, and hammer down those topics as best they can. Their main goal should always be to present information as it is, with little speculation, and allow readers and viewers to make of that what they will.