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The Manipulation of The General Public Through American Media During The 2016 Presidential Elections

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American media is probably one of the most influential means of determining public opinion. This can be said for a variety of different topics, from entertainment to politics. This last presidential election was no exception. The race to presidency between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was one of the most passionate ones in our nation’s history, leaving voters of all demographics with a passionate opinion of some sort. Depending on the individual views regarding each candidate, people were left either ecstatic, enraged, afraid, or anything else in between. Thanks to the media bias of American journalism, the opinions of the general public were more easily manipulated. Two of the main media theories that were used in doing this were the agenda setting theory as well as media logic.

It is no secret that the majority of mainstream American news sources demonstrate some form of political bias. For example, CNN clearly demonstrates a favoritism towards liberals whereas Fox News leans more towards conservative ideations. Because of the biased views that many mainstream news mediums possess, this makes politics much more entertaining for the American people than it should be. They clearly abide by their own political ideologies. This can be noticed by the way that anchors, interviewers, and other news reporting personnel articulate themselves while they are on the air. This is a clear example of the agenda setting theory.

When news sources report according to their own beliefs, they strive to influence other parties as well (Altheide). This is precisely what agenda setting theory is. While this is considered unethical in terms of journalism, it is, unfortunately, a practice which many journalists and news mediums are allowed to get away with. It is a matter of using the correct words as to make their bias more well-hidden in order to influence the third parties, which are also affected by the political figures and ideas that these news mediums support (or oppose). Such parties can include external organizations, individual citizens as a general population, and political figures themselves. One example that stands out the most has been a recurring one, especially in the early stages of the election. The example that I speak of is the constant mutually disdainful banter between President-elect Donald Trump and Fox News Reporter Megyn Kelly. Kelly clearly had distaste towards Trump, and never ceased to take an opportunity to bash him. In like fashion, Mr. Trump would typically respond with some sort of condescending and politically incorrect remark of his own.

After the first couple of instances, it was plain to see that Ms. Kelly was clearly trying to get a rise out of Mr. Trump. She seemed to know that he would lose his temper, and would respond in ways that would hurt his own image. As to why a reporter for a conservatively biased news source would do this to a candidate of their own political interest is anybody’s guess. What can be inferred, however, is that this was clearly the direction that Fox had intended to take. Media logic was also demonstrated in these instances. Americans digest their news more effectively if it is entertaining and in alignment with their own beliefs (Brown and Deegan). While argumentative rhetoric can hardly be considered professional, especially in terms of politics, it is what the American people crave. In the United States, biased media logic is what hooks many of the viewers, which in turn influences their own individual beliefs. The agenda setting and media logic theories are a couple of the most widely implemented concepts in American news and politics because of this. Since Americans love controversy and feeling superior, they are more inclined to follow news mediums that practice these.

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The Manipulation of the General Public Through American Media During the 2016 Presidential Elections. (2018, October 02). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 8, 2022, from
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