At this point, nearly everyone knows of WikiLeaks, a website created by Julian Assange to obtain and publish sensitive material, designed to protect whistle-blowers, journalists, and activists. Wikileaks itself has become a very controversial topic in the United States. Lately, though, the website has become a key factor in the presidential race based on its timing alone. What will it do next?
Unfortunately for Donald Trump, even the latest leaked emails involving Hillary Clinton could not beat out his headlines: moments such as his various leaked audio recordings, eleven accusations of sexual assault and his refusal to concede to Clinton if she wins the election. Unfortunately for the American public, many people are completely unaware that these e-mails have been leaked at all because of Trump’s much more obvious blunders.
In my opinion, it is a beautiful thing that the American people have equal access to Clinton and Trump’s past. What is not as beautiful is that while one has been largely glossed over by the media, the other has been inspected under a microscope.
As a reference, last week, there were more articles about Trump’s “locker room talk” in one day than were published about Wikileaks all weekend, despite the former being weeks old and the latter being a continuous issue. Stories such as these make it clear that equality of access is not the problem: it is equality of attention.
It is completely your choice whether or not you decide to see any legitimacy in Trump’s claims that the media is corrupt. Frankly, I’m skeptical to believe that even Trump actually thinks that this many people are conspiring against him. Yet, just because his claims are ridiculous, it does not mean that they are completely untrue. Of course, most of us can make no more than an educated guess on the topic, meaning we are unable to distinguish what is real and what has been fabricated.
It is important to remember that a few big names in media have put a lot of money into Clinton’s campaign, with Time Warner being one of the top contributors. This is, by no means, conclusive proof that the media is corrupt, but it should cast doubt. This could be the motivation behind avoiding focus on Clinton’s leaked e-mails.
I am in no position to publicly judge the actions of the media because I cannot present a realistic alternative to what they do. However, I am entitled to make observations based on what I see: a television media conglomerate with its hands tied because while it once built Trump up to what he became today, is now horrified that that very media attention may actually win him the presidency. They created a beast and now they are trying to destroy him.
How many times did the media ignore the words and policies of other republican candidates like Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Ben Carson, just to focus on Trump’s outlandish comments? Admittedly, even in the very early stages of his campaign, Trump was a media gold mine. The very fact that Trump was running for office created a buzz that the media was quick to tap into; it gave them the opportunity to cover celebrity and political news at the same time. Not only did viewership increase dramatically, ratings did, too. Alex Werpin of Politico reports:
“In total viewers, Fox News was the most watched channel in all of cable TV in both primetime and total day, for the first time since 2003, at the very beginning of the Iraq war.
“CNN finished a distant second to Fox News in total viewers, but its viewership was up dramatically year over year (in some cases more than 200 percent). Fox News was not far behind CNN in the demo, and also saw its viewership increase significantly year over year.
“MSNBC remained a distant third behind Fox News and CNN, in both total and demo viewers, in total day and primetime. That being said, MSNBC saw substantial growth in total day, even as it couldn’t quite catch up to its competition, both of which also saw substantial year over year ratings growth.”
The media believed they had something great going: they could cover this ridiculous “candidate” during the uneventful parts of the primary and once he lost, they could move onto the general election. This is where poor planning came into play.
With the media constantly making Trump the center of attention, he caught on. He was able to use his antics to get the spotlight time and time again, making other Republican candidates seem very insignificant.
Now, this does not mean that Trump is some kind of genius who can manipulate the media to get what he wants. If that were the case, he might still have a chance at winning the general election. No, Trump and his campaign team simply realized that free publicity was only a rude comment away. As we all saw, however, there was a limit to the effectiveness of that strategy. Fortunately for the media, the person who has done the most damage to his campaign has been none other than “The Donald” himself.
We have all learned at least one thing from Trump in the past year:
the media will pick up any story for the sake of ratings. However, until Election Day, that strategy will not work. See, if the media digs too deep into the information revealed through Wikileaks, they risk increasing Trump’s chances of becoming elected, despite all the people saying that nothing could save him now.
If this were not such a sensitive time, the media would be a lot more active in covering these mass amounts of leaked information. It is safe to assume that we will continue to hear talk of these events far after election season has ended; that may be when the public will start to gain a deeper understanding of who and what is involved.
For now, let’s strap in for another week of disorganized chaos and also prepare ourselves for any outlandish, last-ditch effort from our beloved Republican candidate.