In this discussion I call upon two movies as examples and evidence toexamine the role of mass media in politics. The two movies I will use for thisbasis are The Candidate and All the Presidents Men. Today, the art of governing a society seems to be much dictated orprescribed by what the assemblage of the citizens of the United States say orexpress to the mass media. Thus, the government and politicians listening to and acting upon ourvery wishes and desires.
Or looking at this in another point of view; The massmedia relays to us as citizens the news or information about the administrationas conveyed or set forth by the administration as the “truth”. I believe thatthe majority of the populace would tend to agree more with this second point ofview. The government or politicians of this great country try to appear to havethe semblance of truth or honesty in all of it’s endeavors. And sometimes it does. However, on occasion within its own discretion,the media investigates and tries to inform us by the televised news, majornewspapers and (large) radio personalities of cover-ups, conspiracies and orwrong doings by our so-called leaders. Are we always told the truth by the massmedia? By the government? By the media speaking for or as directed by thegovernment? Or has the line between truth and lies been so badly blurred inpolitics that we will never know what truly goes on in our political system?The two movies examined, both play in some way on the function of themass media in American politics.Order now
We can see how much and how heavily we rely onour televisions, radio shows, newspapers and now the Internet to communicate tous the latest breaking news, political campaigns, slandering, commercials forpoliticians running for office, debates, presidential addresses, cover-ups,conspiracies and information that can take down an entire administration. Thisshows that in all the different aspects of politics that the media plays a verywide, varied and important role in letting us know what is going on. The Candidate tries to unveil how a political campaign for office is run. It tells the story of how an upstart uses the media and available resources inits televised form to try and convey his message and his beliefs to the masspublic on whom he will rely upon to vote and hopefully elect him into office.
As we see though, the people or elite’s who run the campaign, take what thecandidate says and dilute it, dissect it, take it out of context and rearrangehis words into what they think the public wants to hear. We see how elitistdecisions are made as to what we get to see, hear and digest on our own. How dothey know what we want to hear?(Maybe they would if they would go door todoor and take a legitimate poll on the issues and concerns that are the mostimportant to us today. ) What we do get to see in this example though, is abehind the scenes look at the candidate and how he differs from his real selfpersonae when not in the public eye and how he is skeptical at a lot of the waysa political campaign is run.
All the President’s Men shares the same theme and ideas as The Candidatein that the main link between the people and the politicians/administration isthe media. This story is based upon how the undying determination of a team oftwo reporters for a major newspaper, The Washington Post go at all costs to getthe truth out in their investigation and uncovering of a major conspiracy in theadministration. The reporters fact finding was hindered quite a few times alongthe way to discover and disclose the truth to the public, but their willingnessand determination to do so brought out the facts and allegations that crippledthe White House. This example shows how the media does play a crucial role inbringing out the truths and realities of what really goes on behind the closeddoors of the politicians who run our country. There are some things that separate these two movies in regard to therole of the media in politics.
They differ in the angles at which theyapproach their respective story. For instance in The Candidate, television isthe main means of communication to the public for the fresh upstart and theincumbent running for the office of senator. Television can give almost exactlywhat the two candidates want. Short spots in which they convey their beliefs,ideas and towards the end, slander for one another. Television provides to usup to the minute, flashy, visual, auditory messages and it has proven to be agood way in which to get a certain point across in a specified amount of time,for a price. The political role of the media has expanded immensely by means ofthe television set, in what media theorist Marshal Mcluhan called our planet”the global village.
“1In All the President’s Men the role that media plays takes a differentnote to reflect the hard hitting sword in the form of the printed word ofnewspapers. Newspapers are very powerful in the sense that they are print, andmost people still believe that what they read is true, instead of takingeverything at face value, gathering together several other sources ofinformation and then making the decision to agree or disagree. So withsubstantial evidence, newspapers can print stories and or allegations that bringabout many stirring revelations, as many citizens get their daily dose of newsby reading the lowdown that is delivered to them right at their front door everymorning. This points out that newspapers are still very much a major player inAmerican and political culture. Looking further into these films we can see that they make someassumptions about us as the mass public. The films themselves assume, thecharacters of the candidates running for office assume, the higher ups assumeand the media also makes these predictions of what the public wants to beexposed to.
In a general sense a couple of these at first glance would appearto be that we as a public do not care about some things. As in All thePresidents Men, when the two reporters first started learning of some of thewrong things that were going on in Watergate and they wanted to report on it,their superiors at the newspaper argued that it wasn’t news, “nobody wants toread about that shit”. Why do they predict these things, and what do they basetheir decisions on? Well, I believe that at first they just want to make surethey get the facts straight before diving in and printing some potentiallydamaging evidence, or one could also argue that they do not want to be the onesto diffuse the truth. I n The Candidate at the first banquet the new upstartattends, while giving a speech we can hear the reporter telling the cameraman,”OK, shut it off, we got enough”.
The candidate had not even spoken two orthree complete sentences before being cut off. Maybe a lot of people wanted tohear what he had to say, maybe not. But the media made a curt decision rightthere on the spot to cut short what they would show in their respective newscast. This clearly shows that maybe they are not playing favorites for the incumbent,who got just about any bit of airtime he wanted, but that the media sticks bywhat they know or believe. Always just a little hesitant to jump right in withsomething fresh, until the freshness turns into something tried and true. I offer some more assumptions or predictions that the media tends toappear to have about the citizens who soak up what they give to us every day;First they seem to be under the impression that we (the public) do not care.
Ingeneral I would assume that they might think that the majority of the populaceare dimwitted and muddleheaded about the politics that rule this nation. Thatwe are curious and want to know, but we take almost all things conveyed throughthe media as fact and reality, so they can spread just about whatever they wouldlike as the truth. A good counterpoint to this though is that in this day and age, it isgetting more and more impossible to hide or conceal what is the truth as we arebecoming ever more connected in terms of the Internet. Someone can publish adocument in Yugoslavia about anything and seconds later make it available toanyone with access to a computer and the Internet. Then it could be relayed tothe media as a great top news headline, but the media as always will have thatfinal decision.
These assumptions that the media makes in such an ever so lightly wayare very much consistent with what we know. These movies were filmed twentyyears ago, and yet we can still see that they shed some light on the media in away that we can compare them with the media as of today. Everyone is alwayslooking for the latest news, newspapers and TV newscasts are clearly biased inthe news that they report, and still, we do not always get told the truth. In closing, I offer the thought that the media should not be so criticalin what it reports to the population in the world of politics. If we are tocontinue to have the greatest country on the planet, we need to be informed ofall the facts that are readily available about our State Representatives,Senators and Presidents, so that we may make our own intelligent decisions onwho to vote for in our elections when putting these people into office.
Itwould be a shame to have to impeach or require a politician or administration tostep down from their position due to some news about wrong doings by them afterthey have been elected to office, especially if the information was availablebut never reported before the election took place. This country was built onhonesty and integrity and hopefully it will continue to prosper with thesevalues, but as in the past deterioration is sometimes inevitable in the bigmoney world of American political system.Category: History