It has been said by that Conservative Fox and Liberal MSNBC have become evil twins that offer counterprogramming. In my opinion this is true. The two frame the information they provide in order to reinforce their viewer’s opinions. Michael Goodwin, a Fox News Contributor/New York Times Columnist was interviewed this morning on Fox on the topic of this year’s election. He stated that when Barack Obama ran for election in 2008 he promised to unite the country with a hope for change. Goodwin argued that because President Obama could not provide hope to the country and because the past 4 years were arguably very partisan, he will not vote for Barack Obama again, but will vote for Mitt Romney.
Arguments like this one, found on both Fox and MSNBC, based explicitly on opinion can be misleading to the uninformed, undecided voter. Goodwin’s argument is focused on how President Obama did not provide the sense of hope that was expected, but how can you base your vote on such an abstract idea? Furthermore, programs that interview people about their opinions and frame questions the way the interview was framed lead to biased answers posed as facts.
Likewise, the two networks framed their coverage of Hurricane Sandy in support of the candidate they prefer. Today Fox said that President Obama is skipping his scheduled campaign rally in Orlando this morning in order to head back to Washington due to the storm. When Fox reported on the Romney Campaign doing the same with Governor Romney’s Tuesday night rally in Milford, NH they reported that he cancelled and rescheduled Ann Romney’s events. According to the argument The President will have to juggle the responsibilities of being president and a candidate implying that he is not competent enough to do so. The wording of the report of what the Obama Campaign did has a negative connotation and the report of what the Romney Campaign did has a positive connotation implying that the Governor is more responsible even though they both did the same exact thing.
Over on MSNBC the reporters decided who would be able to get the most advantage out of Hurricane Sandy’s coverage. They claimed that President Obama will be able to benefit from coverage of the storm because he will have the chance to be the president and not just a candidate. He will be able to show how he is capable of handling a crisis. They claimed Governor Romney is in an awkward situation because “The President is doing what presidents do; What does Mitt Romney Do?” They claimed he will have a hard time campaigning during the storm because you shouldn’t look too political and the President will be able to do better because he won’t look too political, he’ll look like the president. This whole argument is in favor of Obama only because he is the president. However, the only argument against Romney is that he can not handle the situation because he is not the president. The only argument against him is that he is not qualified to handle the situation properly, but simply because he has not been president.
If any of these arguments was heard on its own and used as a basis for who to vote for then there would be a clear choice of who the president should be. Voters must become informed on both candidates and choose not to rely solely on the biased opinions of either conservative or liberal news networks.
Electronic campaigning refers to the use of electronics during a candidate’s political campaign. This includes blogs, websites, email, social media (Facebook and Twitter, ect.), YouTube, text messaging and internet advertising. E-campaigning is used by candidates to fundraise instantaneously, to communicate and interact with the the public, to persuade us on their appeals, to give general information, to provide a biography, to receive voter’s opinions and feedback through e-polling, and to gain campaign volunteers. There are many benefits to e-campaigning rather than traditional campaigning, but there are also downfalls as well.
The benefits of e-campaigning vary. One benefit is that online users are more active participants in public conversations. In this day and age, citizen observations, experiences, and concerns are expressed over the internet. Because these views are shared on the internet they are accessible to politicians, who use these views to shape their agendas. Politicians also have more efficient means of contact with the public via such venues as text messaging and social media networks instead of the use of telephone calls as a means of contact with the public. Campaigns used text messaging to send thank-you messages and other related comments on a regular basis. The use of social media networks by candidates has provided another way for them to spread their views on important issues, and connect with voters.
While there are benefits of e-campaigning, there are also challenges associated as well. For instance, some citizens are doubtful of information they find on the internet due to how easy it is sometimes for people to upload whatever information they want. These doubtful people sometimes find it hard to trust the information they find about candidates. A different challenge comes from the ability capture candid recordings of the candidates and distribute them (Example: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/secret-video-romney-private-fundraiser). Another challenge candidates may face is that they must constantly update their campaign strategies to match the most popular medium. For example, the switch from Myspace in the 2008 presidential election to Twitter in the 2012 election.
Previously, e-campaigning was used by candidates so that they could seem as if they were up to date with the media of the times. Presently, with each new technology, politicians are quick to adapt their campaign strategies. Today the benefits of e-campaigning are so great that there will be a continued shift towards electronic campaigning. It is believed that there will be a greater convergence between online and offline activities.
Reading the Carlin & Winfrey article provided me with the opportunity acknowledge that the media identifies candidate’s perceived shortcomings and magnifies them to the point that some voters cannot see past them. The article briefly explained why the 2008 presidential election was so historic before describing how sexism was demonstrated in the election towards Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. Definitions of gender stereotypes were given which include sex object, iron maiden, mother, and pet/child.
The sex object stereotype is the most prevelant in my memory because during the 2008 campaign I was around 13-15 years old it was difficult for me to discern what the candidates were saying and what it meant to me. This resulted in a lack of interest in politics on my behalf. Therefore, the easiest gender stereotypes I could understand at the time were those that referenced the candidates in terms of clothing and appearance
In the media, emphasis is placed on appearance, clothes, size, and emotional state. For example, in 1984 Tom Brokaw announced Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman on a major party ticket, to the Democratic National Convention as ‘Geraldine Ferraro … The first woman to be nominated for vice president… Size 6!’ During the campaign she was asked if she knew how to bake muffins and was described as fiesty and “pushy, but not threatening. Furthermore, during the 2008 election emphasis was placed on Palin’s attractiveness/sexiness due to her ”beauty queen background, her youthful appearance, wardrobe, and her unabashed feminine nonverbal communication such as winking”, while Clinton was viewed as not feminine enough because of her pantsuits.
Sexism obviously still exists in the country and definately in the media’s portrayals of women in politics. Women candidates and their campaign staff’s need to address sexism persistently like President Obama addressed racism. Sexist views will continue to exist until the United States sees political offices as a gender neutral.
During a campaign, candidates communicate with the electorate in many different ways throughout the four Political Stages. During the first/surfacing stage candidates work on building a political organization in each district, state and region (depending on the office being sought). They do this by speaking to the community at different gatherings in an attempt to capture attention and they conduct polls to assess their visibility to the public. During this stage they are attempting to communicate their fitness for office to the public. They want to show that they have what it takes to be in office. Through a candidate’s communication with the public via press conference, announcement of goals, potential programs or initial stands on issues, the electorate is given the opportunity to form opinions about the candidate.
Primaries are the second political stage. During this time, there is a full-fledged intraparty election with the purpose of choosing a single candidate from each party to run in the general election. The electorate’s votes provide a source of feedback to the candidates. The voters also get information as they get the opportunity to hear from the candidates as they campaign, as well as receiving information through discourse with other voters, interaction with messages heard on the radio, read online and in print, and seen on television. During the second stage candidates attempt to gain votes through communication with the public about promises that they will keep once elected.
The third stage involves nominating conventions, which have become a means of pragmatic communication held for symbolic purposes. With the help of campaign specialists, the candidate attempts to plan the best show possible to keep previous supporters and to gain new ones. The nominating convention has become a means of communicating party unity as well as the candidate’s campaign themes and issues.
Finally, during the fourth political stage/the general election, the electorate is attempting to gain as much information on the candidates as they can through communication with the media and peers. Once an official is elected they attempt to communicate to the public that they will keep the promises they have made as a candidate through debates, rallies, door-to-door volunteers, buttons and election specials.
In the Gerard A. Hauser article, Public Judgment, distributed in class the author spoke of the public in a manner that distinguished them from a public. He cited a quote form John F. Kennedy to aid in his explanation of the difference which said, “…We now face technical problems… they deal with questions which are now beyond the comprehension of most men.” Hauser explains that some public problems require a specialists knowledge to resolve them and the average citizen is reduced to a “silent and often befuddled observer” as participation in public discussions requires competence in information sciences and technical expertise.
Specifically, the public includes all citizens regardless of whether they are concerned about a problem or not. A public is an organized group of citizens that exhibits three broad rhetorical characteristics, according to the article.
The author’s distinction between the public and a public is important because it distinguishes between two groups. According to Publics Theory, we assume that for a democracy to work we, as citizens, must form as a public and express a public opinion that should inform public policy. I believe that the distinction is made between what a public is and the general public because not all citizens are informed on all topics. We cannot all form an opinion on every single public problem that exists and form a public surrounding that issue. I think that the author makes it clear that publics are informed groups that work to persuade others of their opinions and that we all are not apart of every public, therefore we cannot all inform public policy on those problems.