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Many people's attention has recently been drawn to partisan media, notably its potential involvement in socioeconomic and political polarization. The partisan press refers to media outlets that break standard media impartiality and balance by deliberately distorting facts to strengthen a one-sided factual presentation. Cable television networks comprised of talk radio anchors such as Rush Limbugh, Fox news, MSNBC, and internet websites and blogs are examples of biased press. Partisan media has a negative influence on public well-being for democratic progress since it feeds on skewed information aimed to suit the interests of a few at the expense of the masses. This paper will evaluate partisan media influence on democracy.
A lot of undertaken survey reveals that the numbers of people accessing partisan media are few, but their contents are spilled everywhere. The diffusion of their messages is attributed to the spread of the slanted information from the modest audience to unsuspecting public through the social network. Since the modest audiences for biased media are more informed as well as politically engaged, their interpersonal discussion can make major shifts in public opinion (Dilliplane 17). They are likely to exploit their vast knowledge and manipulation to draw the gullible public into believing the biased information as the ultimate truth. If for instance, they have a higher preference for one candidate or towards a particular policy, then there is a higher probability of success in lobbying for public support. And in the contrary, if a candidate or a policy is against their preferences, it surely will fall no matter the benefits that the public can achieve through ratification of the policy or the election of the individual (Dilliplane 17). Democracy in such an instance will be skewed to benefit few at the expense of ignorant multitude.
Secondly, the partisan media has the potential to influence other media outlets to adopt their partisan contents manipulating what other news outlet broadcast and the manner in which the overall news are broadcasted. A biased media can achieve manipulation of other media in two ways. They can promote and adopt a particular perspective (Levendusky 611). A case example is the 2009 healthcare debate where individuals at Fox News used the “public option” to connote a “government” option. Although the case example did not have a wider circulation-effect, in other related cases, there is a higher probability of a frame being adopted by multiple media outlets and thus reaching wider audience curtailing the freedom of expression and political choice in a democratic state. Secondly, the frame can also be adopted by other media as well as proliferate into the mainstream which can result in severe public access to slanted information promoting a particular socioeconomic agenda or a political stand. Another case example of frame is the public outrage from the Huffington Post that distorted President Obama’s remarks on “bitter” blue collar voters “clinging to religion or gang” (Levendusky 611). In a similar scenario, a Swift Boat Veterans for truth report was ignored by the mainstream media and their report was never aired. When the partisan media, Fox News to be specific, picked up the story, there was a massive public uproar with the findings hitting headlines of the major print media. It is justifiable to conclude that the partisan media are major opinion shapers and the people who were never interested in partisan media will develop some interest and thus a slave to such outlets who will grab the opportunity to brainwash its audiences. The people will depend on the media to shape their decisions, and opportunistic political class will exploit such an avenue to massage their ego (Levendusky 613).
The rise in the influence of the partisan media also shaped elite politics where the station widens the “narrowcasting” of messages techniques that involves tailoring message to suit a specified audience. The 2012 primary electioneering season witnessed a lot, if not all, of appearances of the Republican presidential nominees on Fox News. Peters (2011) found that Republican nominees made over 21 Fox News appearances with the same consistencies witnessed in the 2016 period (Prior 102). Many of the appearances are a speculation of a more comprehensive audience with fanatics as well as increase an individual’s social standing enhancing the theories of progressive ambitions. Proponents of such a theory allude that the more frequent an individual receives the attention of the intended audience, the more his popularity index to occupy higher seat increases. Consequently, people will choose a leader depending on the modest audience’s perception without undertaking effective prospecting of the individual.
However, there is one point that summarizes all the contentions raised in this paper in the context of partisan media. The partisan media is linked to the propagation of incivility that in the long run pilfers in the mainstream media affecting the audiences’ behaviors. The accumulations of uncivil acts result in a socially intolerant society, unconscious of the rights and freedoms of their fellow citizens (Prior 103). Democracy delineates from a lawlessness state and in place, anarchy steps in resulting into a mass civil unrest.
Dilliplane, Susanna. The impact of partisan news exposure on American political opinion and behavior: Evidence from the 2008 presidential election. University of Pennsylvania, 2012.
Levendusky, Matthew S. "Why do partisan media polarize viewers?." American Journal of Political Science 57.3 (2013): 611-623.
Prior, Markus. "Media and political polarization." Annual Review of Political Science 16 (2013): 101-127.
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