It was the 2004 election season. I had attended two John Kerry rallies. I protested George Bush twice at his two local rallies. Stark County, Ohio was dubbed that year as the “bell-weather County” in a bell-weather state. Just mere months before Election Day, Kerry was leading the polls enough that it looked like he was going to win the election.
Then, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Remember them? They claimed John Kerry didn’t actually deserve any of the medals he received during his military service and served as a giant photo-op for no other purpose than to boost his political career. The media was seemingly consumed by this development. Suddenly, John Kerry’s poll numbers dipped and George Bush was re-elected to his second term.
8 months after W was re-elected, I distinctly remember the news reporting his approval numbers dipping. This happened even before Hurricane Katrina and the disastrous government response following the devastation. You’ll even notice in this gallup poll graph how things went down for him: http://www.gallup.com/poll/116500/Presidential-Approval-Ratings-George-Bush.aspx
2004 & 2005 taught me an important lesson I never realized before: The media plays an integral role in who gets elected not by reporting information and facts and simply broadcasting debating of the issues, but by influencing the uninformed with attention grabbing controversy and subsequent pundit commentary.
The reason for me bringing up this not so distant history is to remind everyone not to underestimate the influence of the media on this current election cycle. Many have noticed the near zero coverage Bernie Sanders is getting on the news as if he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning despite drawing thousands of people at every campaign event he has. Conversely, the media is lavishing all kinds of attention on Donald Trump. This isn’t just because he’s entertaining. Most of the commentary I’ve seen from my Democrat friends is rightful disgust. But they still hold the belief that he’s making a joke of the political process and also that there’s no way possible that he could win the election.
If there is anything I learned from the 2004 election, its that it’s a clear mistake to assume someone like Donald Trump couldn’t possibly win the election even with all the media coverage he’s getting. And the media coverage is paying off, with tens of thousands of people showing up to hear his racist xenophobic “Let’s make America great again” campaign rhetoric. I even listened to half of his interview with Sarah Palin and he’s even stolen some fake care for the middle class now. According to a Gallup poll in 2013, 55% of people still get their news primarily from TV.
Never underestimate the power of the media on the uninformed.