There are numerous ways to gather information about the political candidates running for President in 2016, but media consumers may not be aware of the media bias that skews the information they’re receiving.
Whether Americans watched the Democratic Debate live on TV, caught it online later or skimmed tweets on Twitter to get the basic gist, that information was directly or indirectly subject to media bias.
Thankfully, many Americans are already mindful of media bias. According to a national Rasmussen survey, sixty-one percent of “likely voters” in the United States say they do not trust the political news they are getting.
When it comes to the 2016 presidential campaign, only 23 percent believe most reporters will try to offer unbiased coverage, 59 percent think that coverage will be slanted instead, with 36 percent who say most reporters will try to help Hillary Clinton during the campaign.
It’s no wonder that people surveyed believe that coverage will be slanted in Clinton’s favor. The recent Democratic Debate was hosted by CNN, which is owned by Time Warner – one of Clinton’s biggest financial backers.
According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, Clinton’s top 10 cumulative donors between 1999 and 2016 were, in descending order, Citigroup ($782,327), Goldman Sachs ($711,490), DLA Piper ($628,030), JPMorgan Chase ($620,919), EMILY’s List ($605,174) Morgan Stanley ($543,065), Time Warner ($411,296), Skadden Arps ($406,640), Lehman Brothers ($362,853) and Cablevision Systems ($336,288).
The data for Sanders goes back to 1989. His top 10 are, in descending order, Machinists/Aerospace Workers union ($105,000), Teamsters union ($93,700), National Education Association ($84,350), United Auto Workers ($79,650), United Food & Commercial Workers union ($72,500), Communications Workers of America ($68,000), Laborers Union ($64,000), Carpenters & Joiners Union ($62,000), National Association of Letter Carriers ($61,000), and the American Association for Justice ($60,500).
Data for the 2016 cycle is not available yet; these numbers are reflective of the donations both candidates have received up until 2016.
Since Clinton is backed by banks and media, while Sanders is backed by labor unions and doesn’t have a single super PAC backing him, most headlines after the debate read that Clinton won the debate in a landslide.
Since the debate was co-hosted by Facebook, CNN showcased a Facebook poll in its post-debate coverage that suggested Sanders won the debate: 75% of Facebook voters cast their votes for Sanders, with Clinton at only 18%. The poll has since been removed by the website and did not appear on CNN.
According to fortune.com, three additional polls also show that Sanders was perceived as the debate winner with over half the vote. Time had him winning with 57 percent, NJ.com with 71.71 percent, and Fox2Now with 80.72 percent, almost six times Clinton’s 14.09 percent.
The good news is that Americans are speaking out about media bias.
Media giant ABC News recently let host George Stephanopoulos off the hook for not disclosing important information that put his journalistic integrity at risk.
Stephanopoulos previously worked as top adviser and campaign manager to President Bill Clinton. It recently came to light that he hid his $75,000 worth of donations to the Clinton Foundation in an interview with Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer.
The content of Schweizer’s book explains “how and why foreign governments and businesses helped make Bill and Hillary rich.”
Politico senior media writer Jack Shafer said, “The donation corrodes much of the journalistic credibility Stephanopoulos has labored so carefully to build since joining ABC News as a correspondent and analyst in December 1996.”
Stephanopoulos’ collegues are not alone in critticizing his actions — Twitter was flooded with critiques of his lack of disclosure. Some are calling for his resignation.
Parents always preach not to believe everything one reads, but that piece of advice is pertinent to the 2016 Presidential election.
In this nation’s history, four Presidential elections have been decided by the Electoral College where the popular vote candidate did not win.
Many Americans already believe that their votes don’t count. If we are to remain a true democracy, the media cannot continue to sway voters and influence what little power we perceive we have.
If we are to remain a true democracy, we must hold our journalists and broadcasters to the highest standards of integrity.