Saturday, September 29, 2007

Mass Media and Politics

Nowadays politics is sport; very competitive in nature, strategic, and enough wins can get you to the next round. CNN, CSPAN, MSNBC have become the political equivalent of ESPN. Bringing us highlights of the latest political candidates, updating us on the latest polls (i.e. stats), and providing commentary and analysis. But while sports are meant to entertain us, politics are real life.

Mass media plays a crucial part in American politics. Because of the decline in newspaper sales, network news ratings, and more people googling Britney Spears than our presidential candidates, the media has been forced to change with the times, often featuring political stories that are more entertaining than substantial. The wealth of information we have at our finger tips is having both a positive and negative effect. We have the capability to research and study our political candidates and the issues, but there is also a plethora of misleading, distracting, and false information available as well.

Considering the current state of affairs regarding media and politics, some of the voting public knows more about American government than ever before, while others know more about John Edwards’s hair than his political agenda. I for one know that Ann Coulter allegedly called John Edwards a “faggot,” yet I don’t know his stance on abortion or his plan for health care.

In 2004 John Kerry’s stellar health care plan went unnoticed mainly because of the media catch phrase that he was a “flip flopper.” During that election year I specifically recall asking a few friends why they didn’t like John Kerry and they had no legitimate response except, “he’s a flip flopper”.

I love the mass media despite their influence on the voting public. Ultimately it is up to the American public to disseminate what sources and information is credible. Especially since the competitive nature of politics continues to promote the ever growing divide between Democrats and Republicans. The media has taken the concept of “Republicans vs Democrats” and ran with it. Hence the mudslinging and the pageantry that has become American politics.

Can we really blame the media for our lust of tabloid trash or our need for escapism? Their only feeding us what we want. You say your tired of Paris Hilton, yet 3.2 million people tune in to her first post television interview after jail.

More people watch sporting events than politics, so why not make politics look more like sports. Maybe CNN can become as popular as ESPN...

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