Democracy as a social and political system has not only allowed each citizen to directly influence the choice of the country’s leader, but also resulted in creating a huge and powerful industry of political advertising that in some aspects borders with propaganda and public manipulation. At the present moment the USA witnesses a race prior to 2016 presidential elections where Hillary Clinton is one of the most successful candidates. She is a candidate from the Democratic Party and one of her most influential rivals is Donald Trump from the Republican nomination. Clinton’s campaign is at the center of public attention, but different mass media opted to have different strategies as to the ways and methods of presenting such activities in the newspaper, magazines, etc. The current research paper will try to prove that CNN clearly favors Hillary Clinton and presents her in a favorable way highlighting her positive features.
Main stages of Hillary Clinton political career include, first of all, her role as the First Lady of the United States from January 20, 1993 to January 20, 2001, that she performed as a wife of the 42nd President of the United States Bill Clinton. However, a real political success came to her in United States Senate election in New York in 2000, when she became the first First Lady to ever become a member of a political office and also a first female senator from the state for next eight years from January 3, 2001 to January 21, 2009. She was re-elected in 2006 and run for a democratic nomination in 2008 presidential election, though losing to a would-be 44nd President of the United States Barack Obama. Later, from January 21, 2009 to February 1, 2013, she worked as a 67th United States Secretary of State in Obama administration. Leaving the office on February 1, 2013, she returned to partisan politics and only in 2 years she declared that she would take part in the 2016 president elections (Hillary Clinton’s Biography).
CNN is not totally objective in their analysis and media coverage of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. McChesney and Nichols argue that the huge inflow of capital into the presidential elections at all stages minimizes the amount of objective journalism, leaving almost no room for unbiased media coverage (59). The situation with CNN approach to creating articles and videos about Clinton is a very good example of such strategy. People used to call CNN ‘Clinton News Network’, and they argue that CNN clearly wants Hillary Clinton to win the presidency so that they can further strengthen their status. In fact, CNN has been publishing different articles to focus on who is endorsing Clinton to increase her favorable popularity.
Such situation proves that the ideas of McChesney and Nichols are, unfortunately, true reflection of the modern media business and its close ties with the political sphere. Dollarocracy is a very interesting concept presented by these authors. Closely related to a plutocracy, rule of the wealthy, this term turns democratic concept of one person, one vote into a grotesque one dollar, one vote system. Nichols and McChesney argue that lately money-and-media election complex leads to loss of trust to the media, depoliticization of lower classes, infusing them with apathy and to overall negating of self-governance (26). As politicians take more money from different organizations and corporations for their election campaigns they become debtors and tend to favor the laws that would be beneficial for their “investors”. Thus upper class receives more power and influence on how the country would look like and what course it would take in different aspects of domestic and foreign politics (Nichols & McChesney 81). In case of the campaign described in the paper, it can be perfectly related to the major financial donors who support Clinton’s possible presidency.
It is also necessary to mention that money-and-media election complex forbids many interesting and promising politicians to enter the race, because if they do not have financial support from any major political party or big corporations, they, most likely, will stay unknown to broad masses of people. Moreover, it is worth telling that the biggest part of election campaign budget is spent on political advertisements and over the last three elections the rate of negative attack advertisements rose from 58% in 2004 to 69% in 2008 and to unprecedented 86% of Obama’s and 79% Romney’s advertising at the last election in 2012 (Nichols & McChesney 121). Such elements are also present in the current 2016 campaign, as well. This tendency, along with inability of people to receive information by directing thought-provoking questions to candidates, leads to apathy among electorate. Therefore, it leads to a constant increase of power of money-and-media on each iteration of election cycle.
The relations between CNN and Hillary Clinton prove the above-mentioned ideas. Significant funds allocated for Clinton’s support in CNN devaluate the ideals of democracy and unbiased journalism. Many CNN articles highlight only Clinton’s “likability” and various positive features. A piece of video news dated February 25 is titled How Does Clinton Connect with Voters. Even the title of this video draws the attention of the public to the favorable aspects of Hillary Clinton’s image. The authors do not question whether Clinton has connection with voters or not – they ask how she does it. This approach is, to a certain extent, a hidden manipulation of the audience’s opinion as it makes people perceive some information as an undeniable statement due to the form it is presented. This piece of news is a live interview with Josh Kraushaar of the National Journal who explains some aspect of Clinton’s campaign. At first it may seem objective as the interviewee speaks about the failures of both Clinton and Trump, saying that both of the candidates have lost some point in their ratings. Nevertheless, later his speech and the questions of the hosts are centered on the features that may help Clinton to win the elections (How Does Hillary Clinton Connect with Voters). At the beginning they mention that Clinton has some problems with young women voters as they tend not to support her ideas, but all positive information about Clinton is put at the end of the news piece. During the last minute of the video the hosts accentuate on the advantage Clinton has with the minorities’ votes. According to many researches, people usually remember the last facts better than those given at the beginning of the news, so this video is clearly designed to make positive information about Clinton easier to remember.
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Clinton was involved into a scandal concerning her e-mails during the recent months, so her ratings slightly decreased making it crucial to strengthen the image of her trustworthiness. This word often appears on CNN news, for instance, in the title of the article called Hillary Clinton on Trustworthiness: ‘I Understand Voters Have Questions’ (LoBianco). The given article was written after Clinton won the elections in Nevada and the reporter acknowledges that the victory was not easy. He writes that it is essential for Clinton now to prove people that she is worth their trust and support and offers readers one of Clinton’s quotes – “I’m going to demonstrate that I’ve always been the same person, I’ve always been fighting for the same values, fighting to make a difference in people’s lives” (LoBianco). These words create a very positive image of the politician highlighting her sincerity and reliability. In this article she is also contrasted to Trump in terms of their attitude towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The author draws attention of the readers to the fact that Trump wants to remain neutral, whereas Clinton has a clearly articulated and firm position that has been formed over the years. She says, “I support a two-state solution, that’s what I’ve worked on (and) I tried to move forward when I was secretary” (LoBianco). Both quotes taken as examples show that CNN includes only those Clinton’s phrases that form her positive image.
Clinton’s trustworthiness is also highlighted with the focus on the stability of her views and the quality of her education. The article Clinton and Trump: A Tale of Two Corinthians starts with a focus on the mistake that Trump made. The authors write, “He drew chuckles from the audience when he referred to “two Corinthians” instead of “second Corinthians.”” (Merica & Wolf). Then the authors describe Clinton’s good knowledge of the Scriptures in a very detailed way. They draw the public attention to the fact that she quotes the Bible and does it in a proper way. Afterwards, the authors give a detailed account of Clinton’s meeting with a pastor she met at a bakery. Their conversation is presented as an exchange of opinions between two educated people who have a profound knowledge of the Bible. It creates a huge contrast with Trump’s mistakes. Moreover, this article also highlights that Clinton is not likely to change her preferences or ideas. At the beginning of the text the authors clearly state that she is a “lifelong Methodist”, which proves that stability is one of her features in contrast to Trump who has been reported to have been a Catholic, a member of the Dutch Reformed Church and most recently a Presbyterian (Merica & Wolf).
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Moreover, CNN is more likely to support a well-established candidate. In addition, Bernie Sanders has been against using too much money in this presidential election, which is something that CNN might not like as it would significantly decrease the profits from the media coverage of political campaigns. Although Sanders is also a Democratic candidate, CNN tends to overlook his activities and, in some articles from the end of February, they started writing about the shift in preferences from Sanders to Clinton. For example, in an article titled Will Ferrell switches support from Sanders to Clinton, the author highlights that such shift is occurring not only in the voters’ sphere, but also among the celebrities who support the Democratic candidates (Merica & Diaz).
A very interesting situation is observed with CNN media coverage of non-Caucasian voters and their attitude towards Clinton’s possible presidency. There are two major social groups of voters that should be taken into account besides the white Americans – African Americans and Latino voters. Clinton has a great support of the first group and it is highlighted in many CNN articles. When CNN authors compare Sanders and Clinton, they tend to give very detailed information proven by figures that cause higher levels of credibility. For example, they write, “Clinton claimed the support of 76% of African-American voters on Saturday, according to entrance polls” (Kludt). However, Clinton does not have strong support of the Latino voters, although this fact is presented very mildly in most of the news. Moreover, such articles are, in most cases, are finished with some positive information about Clinton. The authors tend to focus the public attention that despite the fact that Clinton’s campaign has faced some difficulties, “the CNN/ORC Poll in South Carolina showed Clinton’s margin even larger among self-identified Democrats” (Agiesta).
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However, it must be also mentioned that despite the fact that presidential candidates always deny the bias of certain media channels and editions that support them, they tend to blame other media that support their rivals. Analyzing various presidential campaigns, D’Alessio writes, “Harry Truman was not the first candidate to complain, nor will Hillary Clinton be the last. It is simpler to believe (and to act on the belief) that “the media are out to get me” than to believe “I am wrong” for many candidates (16). Therefore, the media controversies and biases have always been a sensitive issue and it is almost unlikely that there is any effective way of completely eliminating dollarocracy elements from the American politics. Nevertheless, it is extremely important to raise public awareness about such issues as media bias, which may have a great influence on the formation of the political preferences. Moreover, taking into account the fact that biasness is usually caused by the financial inflow of the sponsors who wish to control the political candidate in the future, these aspects become even more topical and important.
To conclude, the ideas of McChesney and Nichols about the power of dollarocracy in the US politics seem to be supported by numerous evidences. CNN obviously favors Hillary Clinton as a candidate for presidency. The current media in most cases highlights only positive aspects of Clinton’s personality and accents on the success in her campaign. CNN also tries to create strong contrast between Clinton and other candidates, such as Trump, by adding extra focus to her “likability”, education, reliability as a politician, etc. This situation reflects strong financial ties between certain political forces and media that ruin the ideals of true democracy.
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