FTC Record

HOW Media Coverage ImpactED VOTING IN THE 2020 ELECTION

By Amber Hubenschmidt

The 2020 election was talked about on almost every website, social media app, and news channel. One of the biggest topics in relation to the election was the media. Questions like “is it fake news?” and “are certain channels biased?” were frequently asked by Americans.

Longtime Republican voter, Lucy G., said she was voting in person due to mail fraud rumors she heard about on social media, “Trump said to vote at the polls, so that’s exactly what I’m doing. I also saw a bunch of talk on Facebook about voter fraud by mail and early voting, so I wanted to wait until Election Day to vote in person.”

First-time voter, Larry Downs, also heard rumors about voting by mail, but felt the opposite way:

“I heard the rumors about mail fraud, and I think that’s just a manipulation tactic by Trump because he knows a lot of Democrats will be voting by mail, which is exactly what I’m doing since I’m a college student living out of my registered home state. I wasn’t going to let my vote not get counted, especially since it’s my first time voting.”

According to a 2017 study by the Brennan Center for Justice, the rate of voter fraud is less than 0.0009% in the United States. Americans are actually more likely to get struck by lightning in 2020 than to commit election fraud, according to Business Insider.

Independent voter, Tara J., said she didn’t vote at all this year, “All I saw on social media and the news was Trump and Biden, and I don’t like either, so I didn’t feel right voting for a third candidate that I know nothing about. I feel like both the media and Americans are both to blame.”

A 2016 study even showed the difference in airtime between candidates, according to the Tyndall Report, which logged a total of 17 hours of airtime between ABC, CBS, and NBC. Donald Trump had gotten 327 minutes while candidate Hillary Clinton only got 121 minutes. Other candidates didn’t even come close, like Bernie Sanders, who got 20 minutes of airtime in the timeframe.

American’s trust in the media as a source for information, especially politics, has been lessening over the years. As of recent, nearly three out of four American adults feel like social media has too much power and political influence, according to The Hill. Throughout the 2020 election, Trump supporters have been gradually turning against Fox News, a Republican favorite and trusted news channel, and switching to other sources. Country singer Travis Tritt tweeted,“No matter what the final results are tonight, one thing is extremely clear. @FoxNews can no longer claim to be the fair and balanced network they once were. There are a lot of biased hacks there now and a ton of folks are noticing. It’s now @newsmax for me for election results.”

On November 7th, Biden was projected the winner of the 2020 Presidential Election though Trump has yet to concede. Even with mixed emotions about their relationship with the media, Americans will continue to utilize the many media platforms leading up to Inauguration Day on January 20th.

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