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How the Media Affected the Election’s Outcomes and Why It Matters

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(Source: Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons license)

(Source: Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons license)

November 9th, 2016: The atmosphere was tense when I walked on the school campus, almost as if students were mourning over the loss of one of their fellow peers. Perhaps, the majority of students did lose something within themselves. All I could hear throughout the day was “Could you believe he won?” or something of a similar nature. The consensus among the murmurs I heard was that America was doomed and I couldn’t understand this sentiment at all, at least not in so many people. It seemed only me and a few of my friends were the only ones glad with the outcome. Donald Trump was our president.

I questioned myself before writing this article, whether it was worth it for me to share my personal beliefs and I almost backed down, thinking it would not be relevant (I usually write for A&E).  Except, this election had everything to do with the media and the aftermath continues to be a product of the media.

The Mainstream Media:

Why did Donald Trump win? Because people were sick of getting called a plethora of buzzwords! After a while, it gets exhausting having to explain to people that you’re not a bigot or a sexist or a racist or xenophobic. When the media pushed the idea that Trump supporters were these things, you could see it everywhere. Trump supporters were “hateful.” If you supported someone and were constantly called hateful, you’re going to get tired of it. Similarly, there were obviously people who were in the middle of this issue. When you’re stuck with two horrible candidates (as South Park says, we always are!), who are you going to pick? Now, at the start of this election cycle, if you’d told me to choose between Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, I would have said Hillary, but this cycle was a whirlwind and exposed many things to me. Through the course of this cycle, my views changed rapidly that I could only be Never Hillary by the end of the cycle (thanks to the mainstream media). When the media is not subtle about their views, is it really the news or propaganda? I saw so many popular media outlets not only on TV, but also online, defending Hillary even when she was in the wrong. It was so obvious this outlet meant to be objective, had become the most deceptively subjective thing throughout the past year. They did everything they could to make sure Hillary Clinton would look good while demonizing Trump at every chance they could get. Stories were made out of context, not only about the election, but also events going on during the election cycle that were hot topics. There was an obvious agenda behind what the mainstream media was doing. How can anyone trust them now?

With all of this in mind, doesn’t Trump’s win signify something? I woke up on Nov. 9, to see a text that gleefully stated, “Trump has won, my friend. We are free!” What were we free from? The lies the mainstream media told us. Donald Trump won despite the fact that at every point in his campaign he was bashed by the mainstream media. Whether or not you supported and/or wanted him to be president over Hillary, means nothing to the significance of his victory. People saw through the lies and the result, his win, is a reflection of that. Donald Trump as president is not that important—only time will tell what is in store for us—what is more important, is that the mainstream media is either going to die out if it continues to lie to us or real journalism will revive itself. We won’t always have to question ulterior motives of corruption behind the news we are provided. When the media is so biased, and maybe you wouldn’t think it was biased if you didn’t like him at all, but for someone who was in the middle for the majority of this election cycle, I could definitely see all the bias that was loaded on news articles, tweets, YouTube videos, and television. Obviously, half of the country sees one way and the other half sees another way, but regardless of these views, those who noticed the bias, are going to worry. An echo chamber in the media will drastically influence others and alienate them with distrust as the result. I hardly trusted the news before, but now, I take everything they say with a grain of salt. When did the reliability and ethics leave news outlets?

Also, keep in mind, the fact that Donald Trump made for such great headlines. Much of what came out of his mouth was absurd! Of course, the media’s going to report on it, who in their right mind wouldn’t?! The media focused on him so much that people loved him! He was larger than life! As so many people have stated, they loved him because he wasn’t afraid to say certain things. The mass publication of “Donald Trump this” and “Donald Trump that,” surely added to his appeal in some ways.

Ultimately, no matter what the case may be, the mainstream media held the largest part in giving Donald Trump the win without even knowing it. Whatever they were trying to do backfired, and that’s probably the most valuable thing the American people have gained from this election.

Social Media

The man, the myth, the MEME! This election cycle was already a joke, but all these tasty memes made it so much funnier. There were memes for everyone and I think the 2016 presidential election will go down as the most meme-tastic if things don’t get worse (who am I kidding, they will! In the election of 2032, the contenders will probably debate over memes). If you don’t think memes hold enough power to influence an election, trust me, they do. Using Photoshop to add “Make America Great Again” hats onto anime characters, Pepe the Frog memes, vines of Hillary Clinton saying “America is great, because America is good” or Donald Trump talking about his “small loan of a million dollars,” Schmoyoho videos (as seen below!) using clips from the debates, and much more. Everyone thought this election was quite frankly, the biggest joke ever. I half expected Ashton Kutcher to jump out at the end of the whole thing to say, “AMERICA, YOU’VE JUST BEEN PUNK’D!” Sadly, Ashton Kutcher was nowhere to be found.

Another part of social media that held huge weight during this election was Twitter. On Twitter, I saw so many sides of the spectrum. Stupidity was rampant, intellectual and open conversation was rare from users! The majority of celebrities were on Hillary’s side and I questioned this many times, because these people are influential. Was there something more behind their support? Did Donald Trump’s tweets, hurt or help him? No, I think they were…entertaining for the most part. You either agreed with him or you didn’t.  Likewise, Hillary Clinton’s tweets were only a form of entertainment, where you were either in agreement with her statements or you weren’t. This is only from my perspective as a user; however, when I did see a tweet from either candidate on the news before I saw it on Twitter, I definitely assessed it differently than if I had seen it on Twitter beforehand. If I saw it on the news, I analyzed it more closely. In contrast, when I saw the candidates’ tweets online first, they did not really change my opinion that the two were both quite laughable to say the least. For everyone who did pay attention to this cycle I’m sure the questions, “What is each candidate going to say about an important event (i.e. the Dallas police shootings) that occurred, and what does it mean to me?” went through their head a few times. Twitter, along with other forms of social media, did help people question themselves when they weighed the pros and cons of a Clinton or Trump presidency, and this type of mental stimulation is definitely one of the positive outcomes from this election cycle. However, the most important thing Twitter did, was show us something that was right in front of our eyes in a more defined way: how divided America is. That’s definitely something that needs to be worked on, immediately.

Lastly, and in my opinion, the biggest one, was YouTube. I was practically glued to YouTube during the entire election cycle. I live streamed the debates, the RNC and DNC (all 4 days of the latter), and I watched various YouTube celebrities, all with differing views, discuss their opinions on what was going on and how it translated to the future. Some of these people have tiny audiences, but others have very large audiences, and so I’m sure a few votes turned from Hillary to Trump, or vice versa, because of them. Once you fall down the rabbit hole, it’s hard to stop and pretend like you weren’t there. The commentary and uncovering of information, in some cases, is intriguing. The counterculture of political commentators with controversial views is growing and I only see it growing more by the time it’s 2020 and we have to vote (some of us for the first time!) once again.

Wikileaks:

Now, it’s debatable if Wikileaks influenced the election drastically or if they did not, but for the most part, that wasn’t the significance of the information uncovered by Wikileaks. It ties back to the whole mainstream media argument I made at the beginning of this article. I undoubtedly believe the mainstream media, if they were to find out information on this first, would have twisted it, briefly covered it as to not seem biased, or not covered it at all. Once Wikileaks dumped all this information on us, it was impossible for the media to cover its eyes and deny it existed. It had to be reported on. This is just another part of the victory against corruption.

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Aftermath:

I can’t say I wasn’t surprised with the aftermath of the election, especially the riots throughout the country and the protests on college campuses. I predicted and anticipated this reaction the moment I heard Trump had won. I only hoped it did not lasted as long as it did. The division in the United States seems to grow day by day and things like this only hinder the progress to mend a broken country. The media affected so much of this election that the perceptions people had in their head about a Donald Trump presidency being the equivalent to the fall of America were so deep-seated that they could not be changed. The media is to blame for much of this, because they pushed that type of sentiment consistently. The media outlets, celebrities, etc. put their support behind “Love Trumps Hate,” but when did they preach that during the non-peaceful riots and protests? It seems that mantra did not hold up, because the media brewed this frenzied paranoia within people who were either Hillary supporters or were a part of the Never Trump crowd, and on November 9th when the result went the other way, the paranoia went out of control and it was all the media’s fault.

Conclusion:

Is the media to blame for the election’s outcomes and its aftermath? For the most part, I stand behind the belief that, yes, it was the media’s fault, but it serves a lesson for the media and anyone who wants to become a part of the media someday. The media has major influence and with this power, they cannot afford to become corrupt. In a world filled with hopelessness, the truth is our one glimmer of hope, and the people we thought we could get it from, have let us down.

Students, I know many of you are sad about the outcome, but most of us didn’t have a say in this election, so if you want to have your voice heard, the next election will be a great time to do so, but always remember whether the outcome is in or against your favor isn’t always the most important thing. As someone who found both final candidates unfavorable, trust me, sometimes the significance of what occurs as a result of a certain person winning is all that matters and all that one can hold onto. Politics are significant, yes, but we must not let that overshadow other aspects of life we adore with all our hearts that play absolutely no role in politics.

Our happiness is determined by ourselves, not by who our president is or what laws are passed or what policies are changed. I leave you with a quote from author, Laura Ingalls Wilder, as a reminder to everyone about what matters: “It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.”

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How the Media Affected the Election’s Outcomes and Why It Matters