Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 


Raising Questions About Politics and the Mass Media

Raising Questions About Politics and the Mass Media

By Walter Brasch

It’s the first week of January and the election returns are starting to trickle in. It’s not for the rich Democratic white Hillary Clinton who captured the popular vote, nor for the rich Republican white Donald Trump who captured the electoral college and became the next president. This vote came from the campaigns of Clinton and Trump, and the beneficiaries were the TV media in select markets.

The Clinton campaign and the groups supporting her spent about $1.4 billion, most of it for TV ads. The Trump campaign raised about $932 million. The only reason Trump didn’t match Clinton’s total was because he didn’t need to—the TV and social media were so intrigued by his tweets that they gave him more coverage than any other candidate.

Overall, spending for all major races was about $6.9 billion, including $228 million on the Bernie Sanders campaign. About $226.6 million of that total was from individuals, most of that from $27 donations from about seven million individuals. Sanders had rejected contributions of lobbying groups. The highest total for Sanders was a paltry $15,000 from the American Postal Workers Union.

The Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1974, sometimes known as the McCain-Feingold act, placed limits on candidates. In March 2009, the Supreme Court opened up political spending in its ruling in Citizens United v. the General Elections Committee. The Court, in a contentious 5–4 decision, primarily along party lines, declared caps on political restrictions violated the First Amendment. The result of the ruling allowed a significant increase in spending by lobbyists. Democrats saw this as an erosion of fair campaigns; Republicans generally praised the ruling.

If even half the $6.9 billion raised in this year’s campaigns would have been applied elsewhere, it could have supported medical research, aid to wounded military personnel, housing for the homeless, better roads and bridges, and numerous other domestic programs. But the money was spent on a presidential race that pays the victor $400,000, and members of Congress $174,000.

The candidates often blame the media for all kinds of sins, with the conservative candidates calling the media “the liberal, lying media.” But, they use the media to get their word out, saving advertising dollars.

The TV media have been beneficiaries—and this raises an ethical issue. Although there is an invisible wall between the news and business division, just how flimsy is that wall? News Media corporations make contributions; candidates accept the media; the corporations then receive significant income from advertising funds.

More important, how resilient are news directors from not giving significant coverage to following the money because their stations are benefitting?

[Dr. Brasch is an award-winning journalist. His latest book is Fracking America: Sacrificing health and the Environment for Short-Term Economic Benefit. Rosemary Brasch assisted on this column.]


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On War Crimes And The Afghan Insurgency

Mapp’s attempted defence of the SAS on RNZ this morning unintentionally indicated that collective punishment was baked into the planning exercise for the raid, and also into how the raid proceeded on the ground. More>>

ALSO:

Howard Davis: Unpresidented?

Casanova on Cagliostro - "This is a man whose partisans think him wise because when he speaks he seems ignorant. This is a man who is persuasive because he masters no language. This is a man whom people understand because he never explains himself … " More>>

HiveMind Public Engagement Report: NZers Want Stronger Action On Sugar

Over December 2016 and January 2017, Scoop hosted a trial community engagement exercise on the issue of Sugar and Public Health on our new HiveMind platform... Most promising was the fact that there was much agreement from across a wide range of participants from different backgrounds and perspectives on potential solutions to some of the accepted public health challenges we face around sugar. More>>

ALSO:

Branko Marcetic: Land Of The Long White Egalitarian Myth

New Zealand has earned its reputation. Its quality of life is consistently ranked among the highest in the world... New Zealanders themselves report extreme satisfaction with their lives. All of these accolades cover up another truth, however: New Zealand hasn’t been a social-democratic paradise for a long time now. More>>

Alastair Thompson: The Role Of A Free Press In Defending & Fostering Democracy

The arrival of Trump is a wake-up call – not just to the Anglosphere and the developed world - but to our entire planet: Democracy, it turns out, is much more fragile than we thought. More>>

OPENING THE ELECTION:

Related:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news