The Wrestling Match with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton
July 4, 2016
The main stream media (MSM) regularly distort the news rather than reporting it with all of its ambiguities and perhaps tedious details. Decisions about what to report and how to report it are largely influenced by corporate financial interests. Rather than having a goal of presenting the facts of a story and revealing its broader meaning, the corporate goal is largely to appeal to the largest possible audience. Competitive corporate leaders demand that stories have excitement and suspense because it attracts the largest audience.
To raise the level of excitement and suspense in the election of the President of the United States, a complex and important issue, the MSM has vacillated between extolling the virtues of one candidate or the other. After singing the praises and touting the seeming inevitability of a Trump win following his apparent capture of the Republican nomination, the MSM has now fixated on the certainty of a Clinton victory.
In the last few weeks, Trump and his campaign team have made blunders, revealed organizational problems, seen waning poll numbers, and been criticized or dismissed by many in the Republican establishment. Some have questioned whether Trump is actually "in it to win it". His firing of his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, this week was intended to exhibit his commitment to the winning the election. While the reasons for Trump's demise all seem logical, the media are being disingenuous in suggesting that Trump's deficiencies are strongly predictive of a likely election loss.
It is a myth that Hillary Clinton is in a particularly strong position in her opposition against Donald Trump. Yes, unlike Trump, she has rationality, organization, money and supporters on her side. It is easy to see these assets as assurances of success, but so far, she has been unable to connect to young people and may be incapable of it. Her plan for "making college affordable and taking on student debt" offers little encouragement to the young who are saddled with education debt and little prospect of a career. Similarly, Hillary Clinton's message for Rust Belt voters does not provide a message that explains why the economy is so depressed for them and assures them that she can, in fact, make their life better.
The most fundamental truth about this Presidential election is lost when the probability of winning is presented as a set of candidate attributes. Hillary Clinton, even with all of her advantages, has a very steep hill to climb if she is to win in November. The U.S. electorate is essentially evenly divided. Most "Trump voters" will vote for Trump, regardless of Clinton's performance.
The MSM, seem to present this competition as a wrestling match instead of the usual tendency to present the presidential race as a horse race with the opponents seemingly equally posed to win (regardless of their standing), at this point. They have portrayed Hillary as the champ going into the ring with quirky rookie. They have contrasted the professional with the amateur to entice an audience expecting a show of domination. With either the horserace or the wrestling match style, the media's goal is to create a myth that will capture the attention of viewers.
The media may have turned the election narrative into the wrestling match frame. With a wrestling match, the excitement comes when the guy who is expected to lose does something surprising and turns it around. The MSM are ready for the point when Donald Trump kicks back and improves. How will their narrative of inevitability be cast then?
The habit of the MSM to distort the news rather than report on all of its ambiguities and details was also apparent in its coverage of the largest mass shooting in the U.S.: Orlando. Besides news of the victims and police efforts to secure the scene, the first reports about the shooting stressed the shooter's claim of affiliation with ISIS. Although some of the initial reports did identify Pulse, the night club where the shooting took place, as a LGBT club, later reports usually dropped that designation despite reports by patrons that they shooter was himself a patron of the club.
Moderating the ties of the shooting to the LBGT community also lessened the need to discuss the attacks by Republicans on the LGBT. CNN anchor Anderson Cooper's aggressive interview Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi is an example of the vulnerability that Republicans have. Most of the MSM, however, has been unwilling to exploit this vulnerability for fear of offending Republicans.
Other gay men reported that the shooter was gay and had propositioned gay men and used gay dating sites. Although the FBI has said it has been unable to verity the claims that the shooter was gay, some in the Gay community are suggesting a narrative other than terrorism. This narrative holds that self-hatred led the shooter to kill 49 people. His self-proclaimed allegiance to ISIS may have only been a ploy to make his actions a part of something larger than himself. A self-hatred narrative conforms to the shooter's seeming lack of ostensible links to other radical Muslims, Islamic practice, or knowledge of ISIS ideology.
The corporate media masters use entertainment and suspense because it works. We may be appalled Donald Trump may be appalling and infuriating, but we watch him because he is interesting, entertaining. Hillary Clinton may be more accurate and substantive, but she does not draw an audience by herself. When paired with Trump in a close but fluctuating contest, however, Hillary can be even more fascinating and suspenseful than either alone. Similarly, we may also be horrified by an ISIL terrorist attack, but we watch the aftermath because it fascinating and suspenseful. On the other hand, an attack by a self-loathing homosexual may not engender the same level of fascination and suspense as an ISIL attack.