Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Media

Why the Media Cannot Deal Effectively with Donald Trump

A lot of people are upset at the media for facilitating the rise of Donald Trump by giving him so much coverage and attention. This coverage legitimized him as a serious candidate and frequently gave him a free platform, allowing Trump to market himself to voters without having to buy many commercials. But we are wrong to point the finger at the media–the media is subject to certain market imperatives that made it impossible for the media to handle Trump in a way that would have been better, and this will continue to be the case going forward. Read the rest of this entry »

The DNC Didn’t Screw Bernie–The Voters Did

The New York primary was an unmitigated disaster for Bernie Sanders. Polichart’s updated victory targets called for Sanders to win 54% of the vote and get 133 delegates. He got 42% and 108. This puts him 36 delegates behind schedule, and he still trails in the polls in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and California. Sanders failed to do better than the polling data in New York indicated he would do, damaging the comforting theory that polls in northern states underrate him. As regular readers know, I am very sympathetic to Sanders, but I cannot in good conscience mislead you about the realities of the political situation. In the last few days, many well-intentioned people have tried to make arguments that Sanders can still win or that Sanders would be winning if the DNC were not corrupt–I wish these arguments were true, but they’re not. Sanders is losing because most Democratic primary voters do not support him.

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What Really Happened on Super Tuesday

Unlike the British press, which openly acknowledges and parades its biases, many American news outlets like to maintain a pretense of objectivity. But this doesn’t mean that they’re objective, it just means that their biases are more insidious. Many media outlets clearly like Hillary Clinton and dislike Donald Trump, and these views have quietly colored their reporting on the presidential race. Last night Bernie Sanders won as many states as Donald Trump lost, but Clintonites will try to paint the democrats’ race as effectively over while anti-Trumpsters will look for excuses to say that the republicans’ race isn’t finished yet. These media narratives are used to give the press’ favorites “momentum”. If the public believes a race is over, it often is, regardless of whether or not the numbers really make it so. So by crowning a nominee (or refusing to crown one), media outlets exercise power to shape the races grounded in their biases. To understand what really happened last night, we have to look at whether candidates are meeting or exceeding their projected paths to their respective nominations.

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Why the Media Pays More Attention to Some Tragedies Than Others

On social media, the reaction to the Paris terrorist attack is steadily devolving into a compassion competition in which people try to prove that they are nicer people than their friends by parading how empathetic they are on the internet. They write sentimental statuses, they change their profile pictures to the tricolor, they send their “thoughts and prayers”, and so on. None of this does anything to make the world a better place–it’s all about using tragedy to self-promote. It’s just another way for people on the internet to say “Look at me!” But perhaps the most obnoxious form of self-promotion is when people claim they are too good to care about Paris, because they care about less mainstream tragedies, most commonly the recent Beirut bombing. These people are tragedy hipsters who engage in tragedy one-upping. They may be well-intentioned–these folks argue that the media fails to cover attacks like the one that occurred in Beirut because of systemic racism. But while systemic racism certainly is a significant problem in our society, their argument mischaracterizes the social forces that cause the media to pay more attention to some tragedies rather than others.

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Why Lazy Pundits Keep Comparing Sanders and Trump

In recent weeks, I’ve observed a troubling trend among America’s pundit class–the tendency to make really lazy Bernie Sanders/Donald Trump comparisons. You see, Sanders and Trump are both political outsiders, they both tell it the way they think it is, they both have experienced significant growth in their poll numbers in recent months, and they’re both causing problems for their parties’ other candidates. Revelatory, right? Pundit centrists love to draw strained equivalencies between the left and right in American politics and they love to focus on elections as narrative struggles between good guy centrists and bad guy extremists, so it’s natural for them to see these two figures as analogues. In truth, Sanders and Trump could not be more different–not merely in terms of their ideologies and policies, but in their whole approach, in their very attitude toward the public.

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