November 8 marked the start of what some people are calling “the apocalypse”. In more formal terms, Donald J. Trump is President-Elect of the United States of America. It seems that half of the American population are calling the results a miracle, while the other half are in such disbelief they have already started to protest in the streets. One thing both parties can agree on is the unexpectedness of this event. Who would have guessed a year ago that a reality show host would become the 45th US President? In search for explanations, fingers have started converging towards one of the key perpetrators: the media.
Donald Trump has made a career out of plastering his name everywhere his small hands can reach. He has buildings, steaks, wine bottles, and even a university with the letters “TRUMP” all over them in an authoritative and grandeur fashion. For his campaign, however, he barely had to raise a single finger. A couple of controversial remarks in his speeches and Trump had his own printing press in motion. The media rolled out article after article, post after post for weeks at a time. Trump is everywhere, and there is no doubt that it had an influence or, possibly, pushed him into the White House. Most of the media coverage on Trump has been negative, demonizing his acts and character. However, as Trump states in his book Trump: The Art of the Deal, “bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity at all.” Even if the media painted him as the reincarnation of Hitler, by talking and writing about him, they kept him constantly roaming inside people’s minds. Some companies can only wish to get that amount of “free advertising”. It was not only his name that media outlets constantly kept on people’s head, but also his policy plans and ideals, whether it be the “huge” wall or the ban on Muslims entering the country. People that didn’t have the time or were not bothered enough to research further could be easily influenced by this.
It’s unfair to talk only about Trump in this debate, when the name Hillary Clinton was equally as prominent in most media outlets throughout the race. The media coverage of independent parties, their candidates, and policies, on the other hand, was almost nonexistent, and this rendered the independent parties negligible. People were provided with minimal knowledge regarding these parties, meaning that they missed on the opportunity to vote for a candidate that best represented their views. Whole groups of voters who share the same values and ideals were ignored and disregarded in the two-horse race the media created as they were compelled to vote for a candidate that mediocrely represented them as they didn’t want to “waste” their vote on a likely defeat. And it is when not all of the people’s ideals are represented equally that you have a failed democracy.
While to what extent the media influenced the results is debatable, there is no doubt that it did sway the results. The government should act in order to keep media outlets in check and encourage them to provide a balanced coverage of all candidates. While it might seem like censorship, it is the media’s responsibility to well-inform their readers and the government’s responsibility to guarantee a well-informed democratic process. It is when these responsibilities are guaranteed that the US will see a truly balanced and fair democracy.