Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Is a President Trump the Proof of a Fundamentally Biased and Elitist American Mainstream Media?

People surround themselves with other people who have similar views and opinions.  And people of certain views and opinions tend to refer to similar sources for information.  So when one looks for certain information, and go to their regular sources (whether it be friends' posts on SNS or news outlets), they see only one side of the story that they agree with.  Given the universally unanimous opinion expressed in their social cycles, they falsely believe that the views they agree with are shared by intelligent people and are definitely in the majority, while the radical fringe has some extremist perspectives.

And because those are the supposed "radical fringe," they might be loud, crazy, and highly visible, they are believed to be definitely in the minority and thus cannot see the light of the day in real, objective, fair democratic contests...so these self-proclaimed "intelligent" people thought, until things like Brexit and now, President Trump, happened.  The "intelligent" people are genuinely surprised.  They always thought they represented the majority, and in some ways, they are right.  The mainstream media, loathe to alienate the intelligent, have nothing but scorn for the supposed fringe extremists.

Why all the scorn?  Well, the media in the current form does not exist equally for everyone.  The media is a business and it needs to reflect the views of people who are most likely to pay for their content.  That means the educated, well-read, and the wealthy.  Sure, these people may have a spectrum of different political views, which are reflected in the spectrum of conservative and liberal publications, but one thing unite this diverse group of people: they are the "haves" of the society and to the people at the bottom of the social ladder, they are the elites, no matter what political views they deem to hold.

But unfortunately, democracy does not work the same way as the media.  Voting is free, and anyone, no matter how downtrodden, can have an equal voice.  The fact that the media they see on a daily basis does not broadcast views that they espouse only serve to galvanize them further, making them realize, in the harshest of ways, that to make themselves heard, they need to speak loud and clear in the polls.  The fact that the mainstream media, and their intellectual audience, dismiss their views as fringe, as minor, as fundamentally unwinnable only force them to act more definitely, in bigger numbers.

At least partially for this reason, America can have a President Trump today.  People should remember that this man, in the eyes of the mainstream media, is an outcast even in his own ideological camp.  A series of high-profile conservative publications broke sometimes century-old traditions of endorsing Republican candidates.  No big newspaper dared to endorse him, and not only him, but anyone who dared to endorse him, was ridiculed throughout the campaign across the entire spectrum of newspapers with supposedly different political views.  Their readers certainly did not disagree with such "expert opinions."

Statistic models and pollsters boldly predicted Trump leads and even victory.  Such studies are dismissed near-universally in media outlets as curiosities, wild heresy that are bound to fail at the end.  No one took Trump's ideas seriously in these media outlets, merely proclaiming his views as a crazy old man's fanaticism that are completely opposite to core values shared by the country's vast majority.  No one seriously analyzed how his ideas have appeals across half the electorate, or even who the supporters really are.  Trump supporters were often derided for their stupidity and lack of morality just as much as Trump himself was.

This post is neither supporting nor opposing Trump.  It is simply pointing out that many people falsely believed that Trump is not electable as a "real" presidential candidate because their favorite news sources and all their friends said so.  Nothing has been further from the truth.  Just because all the smart people, and all the media outlets says Trump is nothing more than a crazy man with wild ideas, does not mean majority of American electorate shares the view.  And just because all of one's friends speaks of President Trump as beginning of Apocalypse does not mean everyone in America thinks that way.

The author concedes that he himself has been surrounding himself with emotionally charged acquaintances who dismissed Trump completely without analyzing his views and their popular appeal.  These elitists, backed by sensationalizing media driving irrational fear of Trump, have given way to anger among America's less visible social classes.  After suffering months of derision by the rich, the priveleged, and the educated, these people finally have their revenge.  Ironically, with their enthusiasm for the democratic process that Trump is often said to disrespect, they surprised the elitists by showing them who actually is the majority.

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