A Media Feeding Frenzy Against Trump
If you advocate your viewpoints candidly without demonstrating sensitivity to the feelings of others in 2016, you run the risk of violating established social norms in the United States. Billionaire real estate mogul Donald J. Trump, the Republican nominee for President, has discovered this hard fact of political life.
Members of the media have responded to his frequently insensitive or rude remarks by dissecting every statement he utters in public, parsing statements for implied content. This situation fosters biased media coverage in which “the Donald” can say nothing without incurring a backlash of hostile commentary. Some pundits portrays him as a laughable caricature, a buffoon, and not as a serious candidate who won millions of primary votes.
Just last weekend, SNL mocked Trump relentlessly while giving Hillary a free pass. While still funny, it was obvious which way NBC was leaning.
A Double-Edge Sword
Of course, the public has come to expect partisan bickering. As a nation which prides itself on its diversity and untrammeled support for the valuable First Amendment right of free speech, the American public tolerates bombastic election rhetoric. Governments elsewhere sometimes fear hurtful speech. Try speaking your mind freely in North Korea or Cuba, for example. You would likely discover yourself facing a prison sentence (or worse!).
Yet every election cycle, American candidates disagree vehemently with one another about numerous issues of public concern. Democrats Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton this year contended politely about many subjects during close primaries. The press corps did not single out their comments for ridicule. Not so when rowdy Republican primary debates led to a series of personal attacks by candidate Donald Trump and others against one another. Mr. Trump’s words offended numerous reporters and some hold grudges against him.
Through a Lens, Darkly
Yet does a candidate’s lack of tact warrant a constant barrage of negative media attention? Americans deserve a higher level of press integrity. Voters, not members of the press corps alone, ultimately decide how much (or little) political correctness should enter into a Presidential debate. Caustic press coverage may have indirectly inspired some recent physical attacks on Trump supporters.
When Donald Trump delivered a nomination acceptance speech calling into question candidate Hillary Clinton’s leadership abilities and expressing his positive view of the United States as a great nation, members of the press corps immediatelydecried his “dark” vision. Reporters apparently slept through large sections of the address.
Mr. Trump indeed did discuss nationalism, patriotism and bedrock American vitality and enterprise in positive terms. His blunt comments simply did not depict Mrs. Clinton as presidential timber.
Biased Media Coverage
Candidates who express themselves honestly ultimately promote a free society, but also risk hurting the feelings of others. Not every person will always agree with everyone else all of the time. The media needs to remember that freedom isn’t invariably polite (or even sensitive)!