The Media And The American Elections By kelechi Deca - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE



Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The Media And The American Elections By kelechi Deca

Yesterday, I had a very long telephone discussion with a senior colleague who evidently got bamboozled by President Trump’s tweet, questioning the right of the media to call the winner of the US Presidential elections.

The media is not impartial, especially with the control of the big corporations and money bags buying into media across the world, which has made me to depend mostly on independent non affiliated media outlets like The Intercept to interrogate news. But even in their partiality, there is still a level of decency in reportage of facts. I would say that  the newswires I can say have been a bit above average on partisan influence than their broadcast and print counterparts .

I am sure my senior colleague will read this, and during our discussion, I did say that media practitioners should spend time to study media history, and especially in the United States because that shaped to a large extent media practice globally.

With an electoral system many outside of the United States view as complicated, in that there are fifty-one (51) separate elections — one in each state and one in Washington, DC, each with different rules and regulations, and no national elections commission to tell the world who wins. The media stepped in.

And this did not start today, infact, the first time the media took the responsibility of declaring the winner of the US Presidential elections was in 1848 that is 172 years ago when The Associated Press declared the election of Zachary Taylor as president.

Has the media got it wrong before? Yes. Hundred years later, precisely in 1948. A section of the media led by the Chicago Daily Tribune famously plastered “Dewey Defeats Truman” across the front page of its first edition when early numbers made it look like Thomas Dewey was ahead. But the tide turned, and President Harry S. Truman defied pollsters by scoring an upset victory. 

Also, in 2000, the major TV networks and the AP called Florida for Democrat Al Gore, relying largely on Election Day polling. As the votes were counted everyone reversed course. 

However, as I did tell my senior colleague, when a sitting President tweeted: Since when does the media “call who the next president will be”, it was not a question borne out of ignorance because he knows that that has been the tradition, even in his own election in 2016. 

Rather by constantly  putting a question mark on the elections, he is indirectly aiming at discrediting the integrity of the election and by extension  delegitimize Biden victory.

This point was properly captured yesterday by Psychiatrist Raj Persaud who explained that  President Donald Trump’s claims of fraud in the 2020 election could be a psychological strategy, deftly executed by a master manipulator. If so, the president may be paving the way to persuading large numbers of Americans to reject the legitimacy of his defeat.

It could be recalled that a Study, recently published in the academic journal Research & Politics, found that people who are exposed to conspiracy theories regarding election-rigging were less willing to accept the results of an election, and became less inclined to concede the outcome when the result threatened their partisan goals.

Sometimes, you may not know how accumulation of information and feeding on the wrong type of information over a certain period influences your ability to differentiate between facts and fables.

Something may be "doing you"....

- Kelechi Deca,  a journalist & analyst, lives in Lagos

No comments:

Post a Comment