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David Cain

Professor Mary Muesing

UWRT 1104

April 25, 2018

Opinion Editorial

The media is making people stupid voters. In our day and age politics moves only as fast

as the 24/7 newscycle, constantly changing focus and narrative. The coverage of the 2016

election is a monument to our sins as a society. As has become the norm the frenzied news

media and social media has dictated the outcome. The rise of sensationalist reporting and poor

journalism has created an ill informed, uninformed, and illogical american voter. Our society

has become a mindless slave to the news station we watch. It is this problem that I aim to tackle

today, by identifying the issue, my stance on this issue, and how I think we can solve the

problem of an illogical, incompetent, and emotional american voter.

America was founded on the enlightenment principles of logic, reason, a social contract,

and several more principles that are embedded in our constitution it seems that for the last few

years washington has been plagued by increasingly polarized opinions. The average american

would look at modern politics and assume that our founding fathers would be ashamed at where

their country has ended up but actually they are dead wrong. The political process was much

more volatile during their time, just look at the duel between Alexander Hamilton former

secretary of the treasury and the sitting vice president Aaron Burr in which Hamilton was fatally

wounded. This is just one example of many in which politics was incredibly volitie in the early

part of our country’s lifespan. There are many others such as the 1824 and 1248 Jackson adams

elections, the nullification crisis, and most important the civil war. These events are all
examples in which emotion dictated the outcome instead of logic. The early years of our country

was not pretty but it is history that defined our national identity today.

The next evolution in our democracy came with the progressive era that lasted from 1908

-1921. At the time most Americans were fed up with the government corruption and corporate

overlords of the gilded age. Their salvation came in a tragic way when Teddy Roosevelt became

president after the assassination of William Mckinley. Roosevelt set off with a campaign of

reforms that protected the rights of workers and consumers. This trend continued with the

following two administrations of Howard taft and Woodrow Wilson. The Progressive Era in my

opinion marked the true beginning for politics in the twentieth century.

The progressive era also marked the beginning of the somewhat modern trend in which

our society will elect someone new when there is an uncertainty among the people. Examples of

this trend are the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Ronald

Reagan, Barack Obama and most recently Donald J. Trump. For the most part this has worked

in our favor with the one exception being the Jimmy Carter election as he did not really change

enough for america to reelect him. The presidency of Donald Trump also has been viewed by

some as ineffective in creating a better America, that being said he still has 2 and a half years to

change their minds before he has to face reelection. I must also concede that for the most part

this idea of trying something new when times are tough is one of the few examples in which it

makes sense for the American public to act upon emotion in the voting booth. My rationale for

this concesion is that most of the time it is made with both logic and emotion in mind. The idea

that our society will vote based on logic, reason, and emotion is in a way beautiful. The thing is

the 2016 election was different in that while it was a landmark election, it was entirely based on

emotion with very little reason in the decision that our country made.
Donald Trump election and subsequent presidency has highlighted how manipulative our

news media has become. This manipulation coupled with the new digital media and social

media allowed the most unqualified presidential candidate in our history to beat the most

qualified presidential candidate in our history. The digital revolution gave rise to several new

news outlet based on the internet. An example in the power of the internet and mass media is the

Huffington Post. Huffpost was founded by 4 people in 2005 and is now one of the best known

digital news sites. What is interesting in the founding of the Huffington Post is that one of the

cofounders was none other than Andrew breitbart, the founder of Breitbart News. For most

people almost all of the news that they consume comes from the internet whether it be social

media or a digital newspaper. It was this new frontier of information was what gave Donald

Trump the edge to win the presidency. In regards to his use of persuasion he goes against the

ideas of using Logos, Ethos, and Pathos. He only uses Pathos in his arguments almost actively

goes against Ethos and Logos. He lies constantly, does not act in the manor that his position

deserves, and he attacks all opposition. Trump however is only a symptom of the problem, the

real issue is the hideous manipulation by the news media.

When television first became a major part of our society in the 50s there were 3 news

networks NBC, CBS, and ABC. These news channels competed against each other and gave

America only the facts and truth, they all were selling the same thing in practice. As time

progressed news changed and began to incorporate entertainment into its coverage of news in an

effort to increase viewers. With the rise of the internet the amount of news sources increased at

an incredible rate. Today every person has a favorite news outlet because of how those news

sources align with their political opinions. It was this atmosphere that Donald Trump trived in
creating a rhetoric that appeals to everyone on the spectrum but also consolidating a base that

would be incredibly diverse.

During my senior year of high school I took the class AP Government and Politics. I did

not know it at the time but that class would come to be one of the most important experiences in

shaping my opinion on government and politics in my adult life. The first thing my teacher said

on day one was “ so I know most of y’all have opinions about politics but in reality they are all

bastards” the teachers name was Misty Leclerc, a former washington insider who fed up with the

system decided to become a high school teacher in an attempt to inform the next generation

about what is really happening in washington. In my opinion the way that this story

contextualizes our politicians is the same way we should view our media outlets. The biggest

issue plaguing our society is the empathy wall that has been created by the polarized atmosphere

in which we refuse to have a dialogue with people of differing opinion because we believe

ourselves as infalial and them as wrong in every way. In short I believe that america as a society

fixates on the struggle between “them” and “us”. Walter Cronkite, perhaps the most

recognizable journalist of the last century once said “in seeking truth you have to get both sides

of a story”, this quote is an embodiment of what is missing from journalism today.

The root of this problem is most americans are unknowingly conforming to the idea that

they are getting the full story, and this is simply not the case. The lack of the full picture coupled

with the empathy wall built between our two parties is what in my opinion allowed Donald

Trump to flourish. As a disclaimer I need to state that I dislike the Trump administration. That

being said it is not for the same reason as everyone else. I personally dislike him for his

manipulation of the public, I believe that he is in fact a very smart business man who understands

how to appeal to masses of people. The way a good businessman can find good opportunities to
make money, Donald Trump saw an american public that was angry enough to follow his

message. I believe that the public was not smart enough to see through the rhetoric and instead

saw Trump as a god like savior. The media allowed Trump to inspire his base to hate and attack

the democrats and made the democrats angry enough to no longer see trump supporters as people

but instead a mass of racist bigots. If Trump ironically the lasting wall that Trump has built is

that of an empathy wall. During the campaign Hillary Clinton played into this with her comment

calling Trump supporters a “basket of Deplorables”. It is my belief that the Trump election

victory was entirely based on the combination of a business understanding, media

sensationalism, and Good timing. The take away from this that needs to be understood is that

Trump is not the issue but merely a symptom instead the media must be held at a higher

standard. People can’t have opinions shoved down their throat anymore. The American public

needs to think for itself and not be so emotional. There needs to be a return to the rational

thinking that our country was founded on.

The greatest ideal that america stands for is Freedom, and if Americans truly want to be

free they should want to be freed from the shackles of misinformation. The media companies

seek to enslave our minds to their narrative. While there are many companies that attempt to

give purely objective reporting they are simply overshadowed by the mainstream media. The

issue of anger and emotion driving the political machine must be eliminated and its elimination

starts with a return to unbias analytical reporting. This return to rationale begins with properly

and completely informing the public. Also as a society their needs to be more of an effort to

think for ourselves. Every decision our leaders make should be questioned. Each party should

hold its leaders to a higher standard and not excuse hypocrisy. We have let the news companies
run wild for two long but our country for the first time in its history has the intelligence to think

for itself but we must hold the news companies to a higher standard.

About The Editor

My main goal in writing this paper was to attempt to highlight the way that the media is

irresponsibly manipulating the people of this country into hating one another, with a secondary

objective to make the reader at least contemplate the idea of thinking for themselves. My

rationale for writing three whole pages of history of emotion in politics is to allow the reader to

have context before they would even hear my argument. I believe even if the reader believes I

gave a poor argument in this paper I hope that I at least allowed them to make that conclusion on

their own. It should be stated that I have an unorthodox political stance in that I was raised as a

democrat minority in a republican state. In high school I took both AP US History and AP

Government and Politics, both taught me to inform myself when it comes to Government. It was

these two classes that taught me the importance of making you own informed opinion. I now

identify as an independant. I don't believe anymore in the idea of political parties but I do

acknowledge their importance.

Sources Cited

Tyndall, Andrew. “Tyndall Report | Year in Review 2017.” Tyndall Report , Tyndall Report, 1

Jan. 2018, tyndallreport.com/.


The Tyndall Report is a source that I found in the research stage that is basically just data on

what topics are being reported in the news.

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “HuffPost.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia

Britannica, Inc., 25 Apr. 2018, www.britannica.com/topic/The-Huffington-Post.

This is just the history of the Huffington Post in order to gain context as to the origins of degital

news sites.

Boundless. “Boundless US History.” Lumen, Lumen,courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-

ushistory/chapter/from-roosevelt-to-wilson/.

This site was to help refresh my historical knowledge of this time as I have forgotten some of my

US history.

History.com Staff. “Theodore Roosevelt.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009,

www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/theodore-roosevelt.

This also acted served to give context to the history of the progressive era.