US Elections: Televised

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My boyfriend is a news junkie. He is obsessed with checking BBC News; he always asks for people’s opinions on politics and he is constantly asking for my thoughts on the US election. 

It’s addictive, there’s demand for a 24-hour news cycle and Trump helps to provide. Ultimately, cable news is now competing with the internet, so all of Trump’s scandals are perfect for the sound bites that the networks need to rival the meme culture of social media. Whether its Donald Trump dancing to YMCA, the presidential debate itself, or Trump’s offensive tweets – all of them dominate my social media feeds, and they dominate the TV. 

There were 73 million viewers for the Trump versus Biden Presidential debate and although it’s a 13% decline in spectators from Trump vs Clinton it’s still the third most-watched Presidential debate of all time. The Presidential debate is now comparable to the Superbowl, and it has the same ad space too.  

The more that the news is made into entertainment … the more our lives are going to become satire

The dangerous thing about news coverage like this, and what has changed my overall perception of 24-hour reporting, is that the more that the news is made into entertainment (with no fact checking and no integrity) the more that our lives are going to become satire. Ultimately this mocking of Trump on the news is what gave him the election because it made the Democrats secure in the knowledge that they were ‘better than’ and it made those who enjoyed the conservative values of Trump angry because they were being mocked by the media. 

In Grayson Perry’s recent documentary series, ‘Grayson Perry’s Big American Road trip’, he visits the liberal elite, on their literal island of knowledge and money, and interrogates them about their ivory towers. The documentary explores this new brand of neo-liberalism, which in effect shows that many Democrats in America condemn Republicans for being crazy conservative but are doing very little with their own wealth to affect any real change. The news cycle undoubtedly contributes to this trend of saying a lot of things and feeling like we’re creating change when in actuality we’re doing the bare minimum. 

However, where previously the media were weak in the face of Trump, now the news cycles have chosen to report that Trump is making claims without foundation about voter fraud. This U-turn has also been reflected in Twitter’s use of disclaimers on Trumps tweets. Perhaps, both have realised their culpability in creating a post-truth America and are doing their best to rectify. 

I’m sure there are many more examples of tragedy

But the malign power of the news cycle doesn’t just extend to politics. O. J. Simpson’s acquittal, the suicide of Caroline Flack and the death of Jeffrey Epstein, all arguably have the 24-hour news cycle to blame, and I’m sure there are many more examples of tragedy that has sprung from the demand for constant headlines. 

Personally, I’m pessimistic about the Biden presidency, because I know that the beast of the 24-hour news coverage is still waiting to be fed. Even with the election of a different candidate all the fundamentals of news coverage in the US are the same. And although me and my boyfriend will most likely continue to gobble up every news story, I’m definitely starting to become aware of the calories.

Image: heblo via Pixabay

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