Staff Editorial: Skewed media coverage of candidates detrimental to electoral process

Journalism, media and politics have always been dangerously intertwined. The current presidential race is a perfect example of how journalism and the media greatly influence the reputations of political parties and political candidates.

When Donald Trump first announced his campaign for president, the real estate developer and host of “The Apprentice” was not initially taken seriously. It seemed doubtful that he would gain any political traction. His reputation of being a celebrity with bad hair seemed to fuel more jokes than campaign support.

But media coverage of Trump does not need to support or denounce him to be any more or less significant. CNN reported that since the first Republican debate, Trump has received more media coverage on major television networks than all 16 other Republican candidates combined.

This editorial is written tongue-in-cheek. By writing about Trump, The Lamron is, in theory, contributing to the problem. The issue at hand, however, is the boost that mainstream media coverage is giving Trump in the Republican primaries.

Trump currently leads the polls for the Republican candidate. The Washington Post suggests his heavy media coverage is responsible for his growing popularity. When all presidential election coverage centers on Trump, it becomes more difficult for any other candidate to win over voters. No amount of commercial airtime can replace in-show coverage on a major news network. This is not a campaign finance issue.

Even when websites like Huffington Post mock Trump and put him in the Entertainment section, they are still giving him the attention that his campaign is after. If a certain media outlet does not support Trump, they should focus on putting the spotlight on other positive attributes of the other Republican candidates instead of mocking Trump’s negative qualities.

When we receive information about campaigns and candidates almost exclusively from newspapers, television and the Internet, we must question the media’s actual influence. Trump’s campaign has transcended the line between reality television and reality. A recent SurveyUSA poll revealed that Trump would beat top Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton or United States Sen. Bernie Sanders if they were matched up in the general election.

This isn’t a matter of whether or not Trump is a suitable candidate for presidency. This is an issue of media being an influential force that can seriously alter election results like a form of propaganda. People won’t support candidates they know nothing about and, unfortunately, the media are doing a fairly effective job of throwing the other candidates into the background by focusing primarily on Trump—whether in a favorable or a harsh light.