In democratic countries like the US, there are usually movers and shakers that manipulate political campaigns to get the outcome they want. They do this by using sophisticated methods to manipulate voters into voting for candidates or political causes they normally would not support.
The manipulation process that the movers and shakers use to get voters to vote the way they want them to is usually effective. Its effectiveness is primarily due to some voters treating elections in a subjective manner rather than an objective one. Voters who especially vote along party lines don’t evaluate political candidates or political causes objectively and so they are vulnerable to the methods of the movers and shakers.
With the 2016 presidential primary campaign under way, the movers and shakers are already busy devising schemes to give their candidate favorable recognition. Some of the schemes they have used are not new and include voter suppression, smear tactics, debates, polling, and large financial donations to candidates. So who is or who are the movers and shakers for the 2016 presidential elections? That answer is cable TV – specifically CNN, Fox News TV, and MSNBC.
Fox News TV and MSNBC has been a major mover and shaker in the political arena since their launching in 1986 and 1996 respectively. CNN influence in the political arena is not as noticeable as Fox TV and MSNBC because they cover politics differently than them. The difference is that Fox and MSNBC have political talk shows that serve as the mouthpiece for each political party – Fox TV defends conservative politics and MDNBC liberal politics.
Cable TV with their format and more freedom than traditional TV networks like ABC, CBS, and NBC has been able to manipulate politics by being able to conduct polls and debates. These two methods along with their existing talk shows give them an extraordinary ability to be a mover and shaker of presidential campaigns. Recently Fox TV introduced the first network debate for the 2016 GOP presidential candidates. Because of the large number of candidates, Fox set conditions to include two debates, one for the top ten candidates based on polls and the second for those candidates who did not make the top ten cut.
Donald Trump, one of the many GOP candidates and the current front-runner would not be in this position had it not being the selective polling and disproportionately excessive TV coverage. For a man who promoted the Birther Conspiracy about President Obama, is a political neophyte, and who makes controversial comments, no one believed that Trump would be leading the large Republican field that includes some veteran politicians.
After making controversial comments about Mexicans and Senator John McCain not being a war hero, the news media (and especially Fox TV) gave Donald Trump extensive coverage that no doubt was the envy of his fellow GOP candidates. MSNBCs Rachel Maddow on her show recently talked about the extensive coverage Fox TV gave to Trump. This coverage has obviously given him support from people who believe Fox TV is fair and balanced.
Polling of presidential candidates during primary season has become a cottage industry as evidenced by the number of polls conducted. The traditional Gallup, Pew, and other established polls tend not to cover the candidates this early in the game. The problem with polling such as the ones conducted by cable TV networks is that they chose the polling sample with perhaps little to no independent oversight. This is perhaps why Donald Trump is at the top of the polls. They are polling white conservatives who likes his anti-political correctness rhetoric and who buys into his derisive messages.
Another candidate given a boost by the polls and by cable TV is Bernie Saunders, the independent senator from Vermont who is running on the democratic platform. Ed Shultz formerly of MSNBC was perhaps the first to promote Bernie Saunders on his talk show. Since then MSNBC has given him extensive coverage, which has helped him in the polls.
Cable TV, polls, and debates have a synergetic relationship with respect to political campaigns. Polls and debates like the Fox TV debate enhance TV ratings and they can make or break candidates. Imagine then that if cable TV conducts their own polls and debates like Fox and CNN, the concerns about potential manipulation and unethical conduct is not irrational. For these reasons, cable TV or any news media for that matter, should not be conducting polls or holding debates on presidential candidates.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should look at the way cable TV is interfering with the political process and impose restrictions on them like they do for traditional TV stations. Having Fox and MSNBC use their talk shows dedicated to politics in a partisan manner is not beneficial to the country as it reinforces divisiveness, propaganda, and controversy. Allowing cable TV to conduct polls, debates, and use talk shows for political purposes will undermine democracy and weaken the integrity of political system.
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