The Instigator
Pro (for)
4 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

The influence of the media is detrimental to the American political process.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/25/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,426 times Debate No: 44582
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (1)




"Whoever controls the media, controls the culture."
-Allen Ginsberg
It is because I agree with Allen Ginsberg, that I affirm the resolution, "RESOLVED: The influence of
the media is detrimental to the American political process." The value I will be upholding in this debate is democracy. As our political process is, with elections, a democratic political process, valuing democracy is logical.The resolution therefore implies this value, as the question is whether the influence of the media is good or bad for our political process, which is a democracy.
The criterion to achieve democracy is upholding the will of the people.
I offer the following definitions.
Influence: an effect of one person or thing on another (Collins English Dictionary)
Media: transmissions that are distributed widely to the public (
Detrimental: causing harm or injury (Merriam-Webster)

Democracy: a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting (Merriam-Webster)
So if in a democracy, the people choose leaders, upholding the will of the people must be the
criterion to achieve democracy. If I show that the influence of the media undermines the will of the
people, you can affirm, because this would be detrimental to our very democratic political process.

Contention 1: The media has the power to decide the candidates in elections. It is necessary to eliminate the candidates who fail to perform in front of a camera or look unimpressive because the television brings the image of the candidates directly into the homes of voters. An overweight William Howard Taft or a ivory-toothed George Washington would not have much of a chance these days. Favorable media reporting over a period of time can create presidential candidates out of governors, senators and other political figures. The media creates name recognition, which is the essential quality of a presidential candidate and the first step to a successful election. On the contrary, when the media fail to report on the activities of an aspiring candidate, they can completely ruin their chances. Once the media has agreed on one candidate as a winner from a party, this winner receives the majority of the media coverage, and all other opponents are sentenced to sink into obscurity. Financial contributions to
opponents begin to dry up because no one wants to patronize the losing candidate. In the 2000
presidential primary cycle, only candidates who were perceived positively by the public received
extensive media coverage. For the Democrats, the only candidate to receive media attention beside
Vice President Al Gore was former New Jersey senator Bill Bradley, who had been a star
basketball player before he turned to politics. The other candidates were felt to be unimpressive
and therefore unworthy of attention.
So the media undermines the will of the people by eliminating potential candidates, not because of performance or any reasonable qualifications, but based on superficial media concerns- meaning the media precludes the people from knowing who might be the best candidate, and so you can affirm.

Contention 2: Media front-loading is causing a shortening of the presidential primary process, leaving less time for voters to evaluate candidates. The phenomenon of states moving their primary or caucus dates forward to try to increase their influence in the nominating process is not new, but it did reach extraordinary levels in 2000. On March 7, 2000 eleven states held their primary elections and Democrats caucused in additional states, representing 26.8% of total Republican delegates and 37.2% of pledged Democratic delegates (30.3% of total Democratic delegates).
Frontloading is of concern for several reasons. First, and most importantly, front-loading gives less time for voters to evaluate the beliefs and character of the candidates. There is also the fact that the rapid succession of contests gives the frontrunner a distinct advantage in that only he or she is likely to be able to marshall the resources needed to effectively compete in a cluster of early contests. Alternatively, some observers have suggested that the short time-frame could create a situation where an outsider or longshot is able to pull a surprise showing in one or two early contests and then ride a wave of good press through the crush of primaries without receiving a thorough examination from media and voters. A frontloaded schedule likely contributes to depressed voter participation in later contests. Finally, presidential primaries do not occur in a vacuum but are often held in conjunction with state and local elections; moving the presidential primary can have downstream consequences.
So, the media undermines the will of the people by helping to shorten campaigns, meaning the
people have less time to evaluate candidates and determine which ones have the character and
beliefs to properly represent them, and so you can affirm.

Contention 3: Individuals can use the media to distort voting decisions. A major concern in many liberal democracies is the emergence of media empires, where a few individuals have managed to concentrate vast amounts of media assets and use them to actively influence political opinion. Thus, these individuals, from whichever point of the political spectrum, can deliver a powerful political message on behalf or against a political establishment through their respective media empires. This is especially damaging if parts of the general public are more exposed to one particular media empire either due to its high popularity or the lack of alternative media sources.
Furthermore, these individuals possess the ability to provoke people or interest groups into mobilizing, simply by highlighting a particular issue. For example, horrific images from the battlefield or a controversial medical study can invoke a massive response. Therefore, even if it could be argued that the media cannot exactly influence people directly, they can most certainly have a strong influence on what issues people are made aware of or exposed to. The danger in all of this is that it could distort the quality of information that people receive and that in turn could distort their decisions. If positive issues are reported in a negative manner then at least some voters will vote against them even if it is contrary to their own interests, and vice versa. This is made worse when there is a high level of voter apathy, which means people will be less interested in taking part or learning about particular issues that could affect them.
And so, the media can be manipulated in such a way as to overwhelm voters with one-sided information, leaving them uninformed and unable to make a good decision. Therefore, the media is undermining the will of the people, which is one of the principles for democracy, and so you can affirm.

Contention 4: The media itself has been known to distort the facts of political events. In-mid May, new Obama scandals piled up at the White House. A portrait emerged of a president whose Internal Revenue Service was harassing his enemies, a State Department that lied to the world about the fatal debacle in Benghazi and a Justice Department spying on reporters who might leak anti-Obama information.
But several national journalists announced that Obama had been scandal-free for the first four years-and-change of his administration. On NPR"s "Morning Edition," anchorman Steve Inskeep asserted to Cokie Roberts that "this administration has been described " I don"t even know how many times " as remarkably scandal-free." On ABC"s "World News," reporter Jonathan Karl proclaimed "a White House that takes pride in being scandal-free has been hammered by a series of controversies." On MSNBC, Rana Foroohar of Time magazine lamented, "What"s so sad about it is the President has been very rightfully proud of the lack of scandal in his administration so far." These journalists suffered from complete, mentally paralyzing amnesia about the first term, with the deadly "Fast and Furious" gun-running fiasco, the embarrassing decline and fall of Solyndra and other solar energy companies funded by Energy Department loans and Benghazi-gate, to name a few.
Therefore, the media, if not being manipulated, can manipulate on its own. This allows misinformation to seep into the public eye, and causes those affected by the misinformation to make uninformed decisions, thereby not upholding the will of the people. So democracy is not upheld, and I can affirm the resolution "RESOLVED: The influence of the media is detrimental to the American political process."


The issue with saying the media has the power to decide candidates is that the media is only responding to the biases inherit in the people who watch their shows. The media is still a business and like most businesses the lesser performers or things which are judged as bad for their image overall get cut. This is why you can have a network like Fox News, which is a response to a slight liberal media bias. It started off with a large, isolated market and has become a swirling vortex of self perpetuating bigotry and hatred. They are just responding to the biases inherit within their viewers. Now to deny their influence on the selection process would be disingenuous. The media likewise is only responding to the candidates which their viewers like. So while they may give completely insane candidates airtime in the beginning(Herman Cain anyone?) they respond to and air the candidates their viewers respond to.

Your assuming front loading is bad. There is an entire debate to be had about how a shorter election process could actually be helpful. Take Australia"s much shorter elect ion process. You"re also not considering that many people enter elections already knowing who they want so a frontloading could actually serve to lessen media influence.

In the age of the internet I already question the lack of resources argument. I"d hazard I guess most voters under 50 get their news from the internet. Which is a haven of bias and which people must make deliberate decisions to go to biased websites, the exact same way that people already watch TV they agree with. So when they are overwhelmed with information it only affirms an inborn belief.

Again I"d say to look at how the different news medias covered it. The right wing media wanted to make them all out to be HUGE problem and make him the worst and most thuggish president ever. This fits in with the narrative which they already sell to their audience. The other outlets tried to play the events off, a narrative their audience would want.

Basically this entire debate rests on a couple. One with the definition actually :P. Anyway most of my stuff rests on the premise that most people have a bias which is a combination of both nature( and nurture(Parents political party is a significant predictor of child party affiliation). Which means this bias is passed onto their children who watch media which affirms their belief ad infinitum.

Also your definition of democracy is a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting. Using your own arguments, I could say that a handful of people at the top could be deciding the election and thus it would still fit the definition of democracy. That"d be boring though:):).
Debate Round No. 1


First off, thanks for taking the debate. First meet is next weekend, and this is great prep. :)

That said, in response to your refutation about how the media is simply mirroring their viewers, this is a straw man argument. The media clearly influences this process in a detrimental way, regardless of whether they deliver the killing blow or not. Is it entirely the fault of the media, ie Fox News? Of course not. But regardless, the media is still perpetuating this "swirling vortex of self-perpetuating bigotry and hatred".

As far as front-loading goes, you misunderstand my point. The states want to be the first to have their primary, because the earlier in the race that state's primary is, the more important it seems, meaning it gets more media coverage. So while the media may want a longer overall process, the states want more focus on their own primaries, so they get scheduled earlier and earlier, causing quicker decisions to be needed by the public.

Yes, the full election process takes two years, and that is a very large chunk of time. But front-loading can cause the election to be essentially over after four or five primaries, due to the winner getting all the benefits as mentioned in my case, and that is definitely too quick. And I'm not sure you can say that most people enter primaries knowing who they are going to vote for prior to the media coverage. Presidential elections, perhaps, due to party associations, but not primaries.

Being overwhelmed with information is still being overwhelmed with information, regardless of if you intended to be or not. It can also be difficult to tell fact from fiction on the internet, and oftentimes, it's difficult to tell which side of the argument is which as well. It's sort of like that commercial with the French guy, and the girl who says "they can't put it on the internet if it's not true." It may sound silly, but it is sometimes hard to tell reliable sources from unreliable ones, especially if you are new to or inexperienced in using the internet.

Once again, as far as the Obama scandal goes, the media was still covering it in a biased manner and affecting their viewers in the same way, whether they were doing it to please the target audience or not.

Essentially your entire refutation is saying that the media's bias is just a reflection of the people they are trying to cater to, right? And while I don't necessarily deny that, I don't think this is topical to the resolution because I can still clearly prove that the media is detrimental. Are they doing it to please audiences? Sure, but the detrimental effect is still clearly there.

And I completely agree about my definition, have you by chance found a better one? It would be good to get that straightened out. :)


judowrestler1 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Well, that's disappointing. Oh well. All my arguments carry over, etc.


judowrestler1 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Josh_b 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: conduct for no FF's Arguments in favor of Pro because it seems that the media reduces the need for individual research of candidates, but gives false information concering the candidates and influences toward a media desired outcome, not an individually desired outcome.