The Role of the Media in Politics
Previously published on May 10, 2010
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution clearly identifies the freedom of the Press. The Founding Fathers included this provision to ensure government action would be scrutinized and the People had a means to accurately monitor their leaders' work. In the modern age, mass media from newspapers to the worldwide web provide a constant stream of data on our leaders at most levels of government. While this transparency may have pleased figures like Benjamin Franklin, media plays both a positive and negative role in politics today.
When new forms of media access from the Freedom of Information Act to C-SPAN to twitter feeds arrive, the public gets a clearer view into the world of politics. Unfortunately, this can have some initial backlash when Americans first observe dealing making and prototype legislation that can contain confusing and sometimes frightening provisions.
For sophisticated subject material, which requires a certain degree of background knowledge to comprehend, convincing voters a legislative move is a good idea can be far more difficult when the world is watching every step of a debate.
Furthermore, media access also creates the opportunity for greater scandal. Although this factor certainly improves our political system by rooting out the bad behaviors of political leaders, scandals over ill-spoken thoughts and trivial matters undermine the legitimacy of our political system and can destroy the careers of otherwise good leaders.
Excess scrutiny can turn government into nothing more than a circus versus a body of respected leaders working to improve our Nation by freely exchanging even the most controversial of opinions.
On the other hand, media access has also given the general public and political experts greater opportunity to more accurately analyze the words and actions of leaders. While silver tongued politicians may be able to carefully craft political planks for constituents and spin little slipups, constant oversight means deceptive politicians will eventually betray their true selves to the attentive.
Certainly, some individuals will, and do, abuse the power of the Media by scrutinizing the actions of leaders until they find something trivial to create scandal over, because they dislike them and their policies, yet greater media access more or less helps the political system stay clean.
The Media plays a very significant role in politics as it is our window into the political world. In fact, our enormous democracy would probably cease to function as a democracy without mass media to inform all American citizens, who live in so many geographic regions, of what is our Government is doing.
It is also true bad media undermines our political system with inaccurate, distorted views skewed by bias, thus the watchers need watched. Just as the Media scrutinizes politics, the general public and media outlets need to scrutinize all forms of media to detect those who would use misinformation to push political agendas.