How Does the Media Affect Presidential Elections?

The various forms of media affect presidential elections primarily by the slant each chooses to take in reporting about a candidate or party. The personal bias of a reporter or network often comes through in a news story, even when it is not intended.

Media plays an ever-increasing role in presidential elections. One of the first most obvious incidences occurred in the election of 1960, the first time television played such a major role. President Kennedy, with his youth, good looks and charm, appealed more to television audiences than then-Vice President Richard Nixon, who was said to look uncomfortable and, therefore, not as confident. Now that most candidates prepare themselves for television appearances, that problem is not as significant. News reporting, however, has become less objective. Whole networks are dedicated to more conservative or more liberal biases. Even networks that wish to appear objective do not always succeed. Newspapers and magazines endorse particular candidates, and their reporting often favors those candidates at least to a degree. The pictures used, the questions asked and the stories chosen for reporting all play a role in affecting the way a candidate looks to the American public. Most Americans do not get the opportunity to talk to a candidate, so what they know about him is what they hear or read in the media.