It would be ignorant to believe that the media doesn't influence people and their decisions. Regardless of an individual’s right or left leaning, it’s clear that today’s media influences the majority of the populous. How does a political host and news network influence politics?
You either love them, hate them or just check them out to kill time, but political hosts sway public opinion by their tone of voice, facial expressions and sometimes, simply by their name behind a political candidate. We are becoming increasingly similar to sheep; unable or perhaps even unwilling to think for ourselves. It was clear how former President Barack Obama felt about conservative hosts during the 2016 general election.
During a fundraiser at the White House, President Obama stated that people are misinformed by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. "If all you're doing is watching Fox News and listening to Rush Limbaugh and reading some of the blogs that are churning out a lot of misinformation on a regular basis, then it's very hard for you to think that you're going to vote for somebody who you've been told is taking the country in the wrong direction."
That wrong direction he referenced, though, depends on who you talk to on the streets. If you are conservative, the answer is "no." While the left calls Fox News the "Trump Network." Since we can't read people's minds and know if Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, host of the Fox News show "Hannity", are influencing policy in Washington, we must assume that their voice carries more weight with voters than the average Joe.
Media historian Brian Rosenwald explained in an interview with "Here & Now" if Hannity was tougher on Trump, the now president might have been picked off during the Republican primary in 2015.
"I don't think talk radio has a huge influence in presidential general elections for that reason, but in this case, insomuch as the key to the election, or one of the keys, was getting conservatives who had misgivings about either Trump's morals or his qualifications, or some of what he said, or some of the policies he supported, to go out and vote for him," Rosenwald said.
President Trump pretty much praised the Fox News and their talk show hosts. He quoted them as being a source for his accusation for recently released of wiretapping allegations. The president defended his Tweet about an alleged wiretapping his predecessor perpetrated at his campaign headquarters prior to Trump’s election to the presidency. Trump Tweeted: "Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!"
In an interview with Tucker Carlson and as reported by US News, Trump said that another Bret Baier at the network reported on wiretapping. “I watched your friend Bret Baier the day previous where he was talking about a certain very complex set of things happening, and wiretapping," Trump told Carlson. "I said, wait a minute, there's a lot of wiretapping being talked about."
Since many conservatives want to believe this narrative, before the facts come out, they assume this assertion is true. The media influencing or shaping politics is nothing unique. Years ago, the media's main function was to keep elected officials accountable.
Not today. The two entities are too cozy.
The famous "Fireside chats" by President Franklin Roosevelt was used during the Great Depression. He spoke to an ailing nation through radio. President Bill Clinton used his charm and became a powerful persuader to talk to the people through the media. Despite the swagger of candidates--the media can sway votes and it is substantial. Obama was still venting after Hillary Clinton's loss on Nov. 8. He again blamed conservative media. Fox News in every bar and restaurant in big chunks of the country was a big part of the reason democrats lost the White House.
Clinton’s loss is clearly evident, but contributing her loss to Fox News is feeding the power of the media’s hold on the American public. Without a doubt, the Fox News network has influence. Since Fox was pro-Trump, well… you get the picture. He received fewer bruises from commentators on that network than others. Whereas the left-leaning news outlets, in a polar opposite stance, couldn’t find anything good about Trump’s qualifications but backed Clinton all the way.
Blaming conservative media is getting monotonous and blaming left-leaning news outlets, just as obnoxious. Modern media is not balanced as everyone takes their own agenda and beliefs into the field. With political campaigns being so artfully orchestrated, the media plays into this--they choose the side. Yet, we can't forget the mastery skills for the politician. A good politician is not worth his weight if he can't master the media.
Who is to blame?
The media on the left or right notwithstanding -- decides what is more important. Is it healthcare reform or the elusive Russians who rigged an election? The headlines matter and generating false news stories are aplenty. Yet we the people, Americans by birth or by naturalization, are content to be swayed.
Stand idly by and let it happen. But yes, let’s continue to blame networks and political pundits like Limbaugh and Hannity, Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann for leading the lambs astray. We are becoming increasingly similar to sheep; unable to but -- more importantly -- unwilling to think for ourselves.