Media bias is nothing new – the term “liberal media” is thrown around regularly by conservatives, and Fox News has been crowned the face of conservative outlets.
We’ve seen obvious bias in our two-party political system, and the most recent headlines have largely focused on the petty comments and actions made by our presidential candidates.
This is questionable, as there is an abundant amount of material to cover in the upcoming election.
The material is entertaining enough, but what is most interesting is how different news outlets cover the same story.
A recently overlooked story is one of a hypocritical statement made by former president and potential “First Lady,” Bill Clinton. On the campaign trail with Hillary in Florida earlier this month, President Clinton stated that Republican candidate Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” is racist.
“If you’re a white Southerner you know exactly what it means, don’t you?” Clinton said. “What it means is ‘I’ll give you an economy you had 50 years ago, and I’ll move you back up on the social totem pole and other people down.”
While Trump has undoubtedly made many racist comments as well as countless other controversial statements, claiming that his campaign slogan is racist is taking it just a little too far on Bill’s part. Here’s why:
During his own presidential campaign, Bill Clinton used the statement multiple times:
- First, when announcing his campaign in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1991;
- Then, at a campaign rally in Georgia in 1992;
- Even in a political advertisement for Hillary’s first presidential campaign in 2008.
This is not about who said the slogan first (Ronald Reagan said it too!). The meaning of the statement itself, although quite hypocritical, is still not the most important factor in this story. Rather, the way some of the most popular media outlets approached the story – and many stories like it – is most concerning.
For example, NBC News chose to focus on who used the slogan first, while Fox News was quick to pick up on the hypocrisy of Bill’s statement. Both, however, dug back in time to uncover every political use of “Make America Great Again.”
Moreover, the Huffington Post failed to mention that Bill had used the slogan in the past, instead supporting Bill’s claim of racism and expanding upon Trump’s history of controversial statements.
The Huffington Post is a left-leaning outlet and does not claim to be otherwise. Since Trump blacklisted the outlet – as well as several others – from his traveling press corps, any story published about Trump has come with the following editor’s note:
“Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.”
This is a charged statement, and the Huffington Post is free to state their opinions. But readers should be aware of the bias that comes from their news sources.
The New York Post, which has been accused of having a conservative bias, posited that “if it’s a coded hate-speech message, it doesn’t matter who says it.” This implies that since Bill made the statement in his campaign as well as during Hillary’s 2008 campaign, both are as racist as Donald Trump.
Despite the clear tension between the media and this year’s election, journalists should at least attempt to remain objective in their reporting. There is definitely a lot of material to deal with for both candidates, which makes it hard to not point fingers.
Modern news outlets have become increasingly partisan on both sides of the aisle, creating multiple versions of the same story. Something as small as the meaning behind a campaign slogan has sparked a blame game, distracting from the real political issues at stake.
It seems as though political reporting has become more of a game of creating more controversy than uncovering the truth. Naturally, both parties will fight to the end to prove that their candidate is better, but the smarter way to do that is to fact check the small issues so they do not turn into bigger issues.
Opinions are more than welcome – the media thrives on them – but in a campaign season already ridden with some ridiculous lies and accusations, the only way to make sense of it all is through objective and factual reporting.
At the very least, readers should pay extra attention to the information in front of them so they don’t miss out on important facts. Even the smallest detail can change an entire story.